2012 CFO OF THE YEAR: John Smith

Sam Stall
November 28, 2012
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Honoree, Private Companies (revenue over $100 million)

Though he’s an accomplished numbers cruncher, Bastian Solutions CFO John Smith doesn’t have the greatest timing. He signed on with his Indianapolis-based employer—a family-owned material handling system integrator—just as the Great Recession began.

At first glance the firm seems uniquely vulnerable to a downturn. After all, it supplies products and software that help factories move product around their facilities—activity that was sorely curtailed during the dark days of 2008 and 2009. Yet Smith helped to not only preserve the balance sheet, but also the workforce by arranging managerial pay cuts and decreasing work weeks in some divisions to four days. When things picked up, the company grew 34 percent from 2009 to 2011, all while accruing no long-term debt.

john-smith03-1col.jpg (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Age: 50

Family: wife Susan, sons John, 20, and Michael, 12

Hometown: Lebanon, Ind.

Education: bachelor’s degree in accounting, Bob Jones University; CPA

Civic Involvement: Colonial Hills Baptist Church; financial consultant during formation of the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana; coached youth basketball and baseball

Hobbies: Sports, family time, woodworking, home projects

“When facing uncertain times, you must evaluate the situation, analyze the data, collect input from peers and associates,” Smith said. “But ultimately you must put plans in action.”

The company, with Smith’s help, is seeing a lot of action these days. He’s expanded Bastian’s presence by leading the team that set up new offices in Toronto, Sao Paulo, Sydney, and in Qatar and Saudi Arabia. All on top of his day-to-day responsibilities, including cash flow management, overseeing multimillion-dollar contracts, and managing risk.

“Bastian has opened several international business operations in the past two years,” Smith said. “Creating the financial and operational infrastructure to adequately support and make these units successful has created challenges at times. Along with the challenges, we have seen several of these businesses start to gain a foothold in their respective markets.”

One of Smith’s other talents is in explaining the company’s financial position, in plain English, to employees and other managers, often weaving in a joke or two among the dry numbers. And each year he works with Bastian’s department managers to produce new budgets. He must be an effective teacher, because in Bastian’s annual employee survey he’s always ranked highly in employee satisfaction.

Smith, whose former employers include Williams Comfort Air Inc., knows more than a little about running a family-owned enterprise. He started his own medical supply business, Smith Industries Inc., which he sold after two years for a profit.

While he’s “somewhat less optimistic” about macroeconomic conditions in 2013, he’s fairly sanguine about where Bastian is headed in the coming months. “Our revenues and loggings have been very strong for the first three quarters of 2012, and we are on pace for a record year.”•


Click here to return to the CFO of the Year landing page.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. The $104K to CRC would go toward debts service on $486M of existing debt they already have from other things outside this project. Keystone buys the bonds for 3.8M from CRC, and CRC in turn pays for the parking and site work, and some time later CRC buys them back (with interest) from the projected annual property tax revenue from the entire TIF district (est. $415K / yr. from just this property, plus more from all the other property in the TIF district), which in theory would be about a 10-year term, give-or-take. CRC is basically betting on the future, that property values will increase, driving up the tax revenue to the limit of the annual increase cap on commercial property (I think that's 3%). It should be noted that Keystone can't print money (unlike the Federal Treasury) so commercial property tax can only come from consumers, in this case the apartment renters and consumers of the goods and services offered by the ground floor retailers, and employees in the form of lower non-mandatory compensation items, such as bonuses, benefits, 401K match, etc.

  2. $3B would hurt Lilly's bottom line if there were no insurance or Indemnity Agreement, but there is no way that large an award will be upheld on appeal. What's surprising is that the trial judge refused to reduce it. She must have thought there was evidence of a flagrant, unconscionable coverup and wanted to send a message.

  3. As a self-employed individual, I always saw outrageous price increases every year in a health insurance plan with preexisting condition costs -- something most employed groups never had to worry about. With spouse, I saw ALL Indiana "free market answer" plans' premiums raise 25%-45% each year.

  4. It's not who you chose to build it's how they build it. Architects and engineers decide how and what to use to build. builders just do the work. Architects & engineers still think the tarp over the escalators out at airport will hold for third time when it snows, ice storms.

  5. http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/duke-energy-customers-angry-about-money-for-nothing