SHAUMBRA MAGAZINE: How and when did you find Crimson Circle?
STEVE: Well, that’s an interesting story. Mary Alyce Owens (previous CC Finance Manager) and I had both applied at the same time back in 2009, and I was supposed to have an interview with Geoff. But then he cancelled it, because he hired Mary Alyce. The reason I know that is because when I applied again in 2015, Geoff was looking for my information and found the email from 2009. Isn’t that a coincidence? They had put out another ad because Mary Alyce was retiring and knew it would take a while to train somebody (because Crimson Circle is more complex than people realize), so I applied again, and the rest is history. It was the first time that’s ever happened to me.
SM: What skills did you bring to the job?
STEVE: Well, I can definitely aggravate people.
SM: (chuckling) Did you bring that skill or learn it on the job?
STEVE: Some of that is my personality, but a bigger piece is the job itself. They call a lot of people in my position “controllers” and it’s not to control people, but it’s to control and monitor the assets of the business. I’ve got over 30 years’ experience, and I picked that up along the way. It’s part of the responsibilities to pay attention to what’s going on. Accounting has a set of rules and it’s to control and safeguard the money and other assets of the business. I have a different position than [other staff members], because I see the money and have to pay people. I’ve worked for several different industries and every different business has its own uniqueness, including Crimson Circle. For instance, our revenue streams aren’t like any other business I’ve been involved with.
I actually have three degrees – a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in social work, and an MBA in accounting, which I totally 4.0’d. But I still struggled with the writing, so I admire [others on the staff] because they can write and be creative, and for me it’s always been easy with numbers.
SM: Did you ever do anything with your other degrees?
STEVE: Yes. I worked in mental hospitals as an intern, in a locked ward with people who had major issues. Also, when I got out of college, my first job was administrative assistant to the executive director of a children’s mental health agency in Washington, D.C. That was an interesting experience, but it was my Navy experience that made me understand integration, getting along, living in close proximity of other people and being respectful.
SM: How long were you in the Navy?
STEVE: I joined at 18 and did active duty for two years, four months. I went to technical school and worked as a mechanic on aircraft systems, air conditioning systems, aviators, equipment, pressurization. I was stationed in Japan for almost two years and we cruised all over the South Pacific, and I loved it. That’s how I got my travel bug. Then I got out and went to college and started working. My family had a $50-million wholesale fruit and produce business in Washington, D.C. and I worked for them part time when I was going to school, and that’s where I began to see where my abilities really were. When I got out of the Navy, I thought I wanted to help people, which was the impetus for getting my MBA and degree in psychology. But after noticing my abilities in accounting, the CPA firm from my family’s business asked me to change my major from psychology to accounting.
SM: So, you’re really bringing a diverse kind of background to the Crimson Circle, not just the accounting. You have this other stuff that in some way kind of relates a little bit.
STEVE: Yeah, and I remember when I was in college, my parents had done this “est” training. I did that way, way back, and it was kind of – it was different. It was training not to make something into what you think it is, but “it is what it is.” So, I did that a long time ago, and I’ve always been more open to spiritual stuff, stuff that’s unexplainable, stuff that is just different. I’ve always been fascinated with it.
Plus, it’s amazing the kind of entrepreneur that Geoff is. There is a difference between entrepreneurs and people who manage companies. Entrepreneurs have this vision where they can make things happen, whereas managers do the day-to-day stuff and just manage things instead of developing stuff. He’s definitely a visionary, and it’s neat to watch it happen.
SM: What would you say is the worst part of your job?
STEVE: The most challenging part of my position is processing Accounts Payable. Accounts Payable is the process of paying our domestic and international vendors, paying employee expense reports, and other types of entities such as the Federal Government and State and Local Governments. To compound the complexity, we pay by wire, ACH, PayPal, credit card, and gift cards to our store. Each payment process has its own rules that I must follow, especially banking rules and regulations.
We process Accounts Payable on a weekly basis. Many companies do not pay that fast. I have seen in my career, some companies that pay not weekly, but up to 90 days after receiving an invoice. Crimson values each and every vendor that performs a product or service for the company. Crimson Circle also values its employees, and other entities and has made it a priority to pay promptly. There are times when a delay in processing happens such as when there are international events or other technical or logistical issues.
SM: What’s your favorite part of the job?
STEVE: Being in a successful company! I mean, from the accounting side, when we can pay our vendors and make a profit, it’s fun. I’ve worked in companies that have lost money and it’s really not fun to go to work when you’ve got to tell people, “No, I can’t pay you this week.” I’ve been in companies where they’re either dying, or the industry has shifted or whatever and they haven’t kept up with it. So, the biggest thing is that we are a well-run company. And Geoff and Linda are good to the staff including compensation and acknowledgment.
SM: What are your day-to-day tasks?
STEVE: Well, it’s different every single day. During the beginning of the week, I get the payables in order, which means I acknowledge them, review them and get them into the accounting system. You know, we get stuff in from Paymentech (credit card processor), American Express and PayPal, so I go in and process the daily batch of payments.
I’m also dealing with vendors. If we get a new vendor, I have to get the legal forms from them and set up their banking information. Also, depending on the time of the month, I reconcile all of our balance sheet accounts. There’s the income statement and also the balance sheet, which shows ongoing accounts, money coming in and out, receivables coming in and out, and other transactions, like when we pay stuff in advance. That’s continuous, whereas an income statement starts over from zero each month. The reconciliations can be quite lengthy. I also do payroll, refunds, and generate the financial statements.
Obviously, I have to be cognizant of Geoff and Linda, because I have their trust. I told them when they hired me, “I’ll treat this as if it was my own money, and if I wouldn’t do something with my own money, I’m not going to do it with yours,” so I take my job personally. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. Is it challenging? Yes, at times. It’s give-and-take, like anything else. I spend most of my time doing this, and then when I’m on my own time I really want to be off and do something fun.
The two major accomplishments in my life were getting that 4.0 when I got my MBA and also doing a bicycle ride in Evergreen called the Triple Bypass, 117 miles and three mountain passes in one day. It was brutal. Physically, it seemed to take forever, and it just beat me down, but those are two things I’m most proud of. I rode bicycles for 20-plus years and have ridden all over the country, as well as in Mexico, New Zealand and Costa Rica.
So, when I do have fun, I really have fun. I’m more of a risk taker than some people are. I feel good with my physical abilities. I do CrossFit three to five days a week, and I’m in there with 20-year-olds.
So that’s kind of in a nutshell what I do. Hopefully you get the idea that I’m safeguarding the assets of the company. That’s the most basic thing that I do.