The Hignell Companies

“Custom Fit” CFO for a Diverse Business

CLIENT:

"The Hignell Companies” had its beginning shortly after World War II.  A building boom had begun as returning soldiers came back to restart their lives; for many, this meant new families and new homes.  Business was brisk until an economic downturn in the mid 1960’s slowed home construction and the company pared down to owner Fred Hignell and one part-time employee. 

Doug Hignell joined his father in 1970, bringing new vitality and an expanded vision. Since then the company’s services have grown to include residential property management, commercial property management, remodeling and new construction, home repair and maintenance, homeowners' association (HOA) management, and an assisted living community.  The company now employs about 160 people.

THE CHALLENGE:
Morrison & Company was asked to help after the company’s CFO left.  Aside from a degree of experience with the variety of business lines in which it engages, Hignell also sought a CFO who fit the company’s culture.  While this is not an unusual need, Hignell’s culture is particularly important to both its business and its community-focused mission. 

THE PROCESS:
At the suggestion of the company’s president, we interviewed a current Hignell executive for the position.  While the candidate held an accounting degree, he had not worked in the field but rather had been focused on real estate and investments.

The candidate was forthcoming about his lack of experience as a CFO but proved savvy about the business and its strategies, its needs, and the vision for its future.  As with all upper-level financial candidates, we administered Morrison & Company’s proprietary online skills assessment; despite the passage of time since his college days and little direct experience, the candidate scored at a level we would ordinarily consider sufficient for the position.

“I had the confidence that working with a professional company such as Morrison & Company would allow me the time to continue to focus on running the business during this important transition of the CFO role. They provided everything I expected and then some. Thanks, Morrison & Company” –

Philip Larios President/CEO The Hignell Companies

THE RESULTS:
As important as technical skills are, we also know that cultural fit and a common vision is as critical or more, and the company decided to give the position to the internal candidate.  While recognizing his needs, Hignell also saw the candidate’s strengths, his global understanding of the business, and his demonstrated fit with the company’s vital culture. 

As experienced interim CFOs and mentors, Morrison was asked to serve as a resource for the new CFO while he settled into the job, then as needed going forward.  Regular meetings and conversations were scheduled, to be tapered off over time.  The outcome:  A dedicated CFO with a strong cultural fit and the resources to ensure that he will settle well into the position.

“Morrison’s guidance through the transition process provided me with reassurance to apply and maximize the skills I already possessed, while also instructing me on new methods for analyzing, improving and growing the various departments within The Hignell Companies.” –

Mike Rossman, CFO/The Hignell Companies