Get to know Kunst Bros. Painting’s Christin Newton Kimball, winner of a North Bay Business Journal CFO award.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE ESSENTIAL ROLE OF A FINANCIAL LEADER IN THE CURRENT ENVIRONMENT?
Keeping the finances current, while also working closely with the owner to keep him informed on all aspects of the company. Coordinating with the owner in making business decisions that best benefit the employees and the company.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHANGES YOU’VE SEEN IN YOUR INDUSTRY?
I think with the increase of “Yelpers”, potential clients are better educated on contractors’ customer reviews & satisfaction. This is great for a business like ours, that has been in business for four generations with an impeccable reputation, and always provides excellent customer service.
TELL US ABOUT THE PARTICULAR CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES YOUR ORGANIZATION HAS MET IN THE RECENT PAST?
Our biggest challenge, as it was for most businesses, was to survive the economic recession. Painting can be considered a luxury, so when individuals are concerned about money, painting wasn’t a top priority. We paint a lot of houses before they go on the market, so with the downturn in the economy no one was buying or selling. We also had to figure out how to lower overhead without compromising our quality.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG EMERGING FINANCIAL LEADERS?
The future is unknown – and you don’t always see textbook scenarios, so learn to adapt to each situation & listen and learn from those around you.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE FOR WEATHERING TODAY’S ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT?
Live within your means. Know your financial situation, be realistic, make a budget and stick to it.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR BUSINESS WILL CHANGE IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
Kunst Bros. has been around for 145 years, so I haven’t seen or can’t envision too much change in painting itself. However, the back office has changed with many technological advances from the way customers book estimates, how we deliver estimates, how we communicate with clients, to how the financials are handled. In the future there will be continuous advancements in technology that will create even more efficiency, and thus increase business productivity.
WHAT IS A DECISION YOU WISH YOU HADN’T MADE? WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM IT?
There has yet to be a mistake that I’ve been unable to recover from. If I make bad choice, I try to not dwell on the situation, and learn from it and move on. The only mistake is a lesson not learned!
WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE BUSINESS EXPERIENCE?
When I was hired at Kunst Bros. 11 years ago my responsibilities were secretarial; answering phone, responding to emails, mail, filing, estimates, etc. I remember the day the owner’s wife finally handed over the bookkeeping and the office was all mine to run.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST BUSINESS SUCCESS?
Being the manager, Chief Operating Officer & Chief Financial Officer, I oversee the entire business,from project management to the benefits package we provide our employees so it’s hard to name just one success. But I would have to say it was being voted “Best of Marin” year after year and finally into the “Best of Marin- Hall of Fame”. This is an award voted on by consumers, so it says everything about our reputation. This starts with our image when a clean truck is seen driving through town, to the smile that’s presented on the estimate, to the amazing crew that arrives at your house to start the job. Nicholas Kunst, owner, has always treated all the employees with respect which has led to a crew of individuals who have been with the company for over ten years and no plans of leaving. These guys take pride in their work and we constantly receive compliments about them and their quality of work!
Christin Newton Kimball
Chief operating officer and chief financial officer
Kunst Bros. Painting Contractor, Inc.
76 Belvedere St., San Rafael, CA 94901
Professional background: She started her career at Kunst Bros. 11 years ago. She met Nicholas Kunst through one of his painters, and he hired her as a part-time office assistant and part-time nanny for his 2-year-old daughter. It only took her a couple of months to dive into the business. One of her jobs was filing, so she spent a lot of time organizing files to grasp how the business was run. She was trained in Intuit QuickBooks software and after only a couple years was able to run all aspects of the company. She said she continues to learn and advance all the time.
Education: A.A., Santa Rosa Junior College. B.A., sociology, Sonoma State University.