[ INSIDE HAWAII INC. ]
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mike Hulser, who refers to himself as "the Biz MD," has joined Peter Vincent & Associates as its chief financial/operations officer. Seated on Thursday in the company's Chinatown offices, Hulser helps companies attain financial viability and success.
Hulser helps businesses take care of business
The turnaround artist is equally adept at maximizing the efforts of healthy firms
Question: Why is Peter Vincent hiring a turnaround expert, particularly during a construction boom?
Answer: Exactly. This is not a turnaround assignment. Turnaround is only a piece of what I do. I work with companies that don't want to get near a turnaround. Tabora Gallery, the Wedding Ring Shop and Peter Vincent don't want to need a turnaround.
New job: A local business consultant, Hulser has joined Honolulu architecture firm Peter Vincent & Associates LLC as chief financial/operations officer. He reports to owner Peter Vincent.
Profile: Hulser is a former General Electric executive who now does consulting and turnaround management. He first came to Hawaii in 2000 and has worked either as an executive or a consultant for Hawaiian Airlines, Pictures Plus, Local Motion, the Wedding Ring Shop, Tabora Gallery and computer-training company CTA.
Award: He won the Turnaround of the Year, Small Company award in 2000 from the nonprofit Turnaround Management Association for his work at metals manufacturer Starmet Corp. of greater Boston.
What is your assignment at Peter Vincent?
A: We have significant growth opportunities, so it's making sure we can manage the growth in a way where we can service the clients and make a nice reasonable profit and have a very solvent or liquid situation going forward.
Q: It is profitable now?
A: Absolutely. I've got a jewel there that I'm trying to grow and polish.
Q: What are your plans?
A: I'm pretty numbers oriented, so I have been teaching the management there about their numbers. One of the things that we're working on is making sure we do the best possible pre-contract estimating and diagnostic work before we put the proposal in front of the customer.
Assuming that we make a reasonable deal with that customer, I've put in place an ongoing management process where we are continuously looking at the numbers in terms of payroll hours spent producing revenue and average dollars of revenue per hour worked on a project.
If you've got 20 people on the payroll, how many of those 20 people do you have effectively applied to the projects?
Q: What were Peter Vincent's total billings last year?
A: I know that last year was about $3 million; this year the question is, how much of sharp increase it will be over last year's?
Q: How strong is the company's productivity?
A: By every standard in the industry, their productivity is right up against the ceiling; it will be tough to squeeze much more out.
Q: So what can you do for the company?
A: I can't remember the exact set of words when Peter first called me. He called me and said, "Mike, several people have given your name to me and ... No. 1, I didn't study architecture to become an architect to do management stuff. I'm sitting here doing my budget, and that's not very enjoyable to me."
When I heard that, I said, "Man, how quickly can we get together?"
I'm very excited about getting together with an architect of his caliber.
Q: How do you charge client companies?
A: The most prevalent is generally for a monthly retainer, and what I tell them is, we agree on a fee and I'm your CFO or COO ... except I'm not physically sitting in your office 100 percent of the time, but I'm available. My engagement or contract is a half-page long. I serve at the pleasure of the client.
Q: How much have you charged in the past?
A: I've had small companies that were a few thousands dollars a month and then I've had companies that were ten times that.
Q: What brought you to Hawaii in 2000?
A: Through our consulting company we came in as the interim financial leaders of Hawaiian Air while they ran a search for a permanent CFO. I had never been here before. The day my partner called and said, "You're not going to believe this," I couldn't believe it. And later my wife and I said, "Gosh we don't want to go back (to the mainland)."
Inside Hawaii Inc. is a weekly conversation with business and community leaders. Suggestions can be sent to email@example.com