Central Valley Builders Supply's Bill Robertson wins North Bay CFO award
Bill Robertson of Central Valley Builders Supply in Napa wins one of North Bay Business Journal's CFO awards.
Professional Background: CFO – Central Valley; CFO - Spectralink; and CFO - Orchard Supply Hardware
Education: University of Southern California, MBA Degree; California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, BS Degree; and California CPA
What do you see as the essential role of a financial leader in the current environment?
The essential role of a financial leader is still to provide financial guidance, manage risk and be a trusted adviser to leadership/ownership. However, the role has also evolved into being a primary catalyst for finding and driving value creation through technology, operational change and efficiencies
What are the biggest changes you've seen in your industry?
We are seeing a greater focus on driving productivity through process improvement, analytics and leveraging new and existing technologies. Also, identifying new markets or product opportunities to grow. We recently opened our Pre-Fabricated Wall division, because we see a growing need from contractors who are also struggling to address labor shortages. They have the demand, but do not have the resources to fulfill it, so we build the walls for them.
Tell us about the particular challenges and opportunities your organization has met in the recent past?
Like many other businesses in our industry our biggest challenge lately has been the labor market. The economy is robust and the work force continues to evolve as millennials become a bigger part of it and they have different priorities. This has forced us to start to rethink our hiring practices, how we structure our benefits, emphasize a work-life balance and focus on more community involvement.
What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?
Definitely learn the basics as it relates to the financial aspects of running a business, but don't stop there. You need to learn to be a trusted leader that knows and understands most aspects of the business well, because you will be expected to drive change across the entire organization.
What's the best advice for weathering today's economic environment?
Probably the best advice is to be flexible and adaptable. The business environment changes fast and you can't become complacent or you will be left behind or miss critical opportunities.
How do you think your business will change in the next five years?
We see some consolidation in our industry in the upcoming years, which will change the players and competitive landscape a bit. Also, I think our industry will need to embrace more automation as we deal with workforce constraints and the continued need to optimize performance.
What is a decision you wish you hadn't made? What did you learn from it?
Like everyone there are many decisions that we would like to take back. For me, I think learning through various experiences that not every decision is a financial one. Being empathic and learning to leverage other people's perspectives.
What is your most memorable business experience?
Having been part of a leadership team that navigated a large retail organization through the worst of the Great Recession.
What is your greatest business success?
One of the things I'm most proud of has been the opportunity to build high performance teams. I've had the pleasure of working with many smart and talented individuals and it is always very satisfying to know I played a part in bringing them together, empowering and mentoring them.
What was your toughest business decision?
Having been a CFO during the Great Recession I had to take part in my fair share of tough decisions, many of which can impact employees in various ways. For me, it's always about being thoughtful and ensuring that you are making the most informed decision possible.
What would your friends be surprised to find out about you?