Howard Supply Co.
Michael Taylor has been described as having a “back to basics” approach to financial management, one where transactional accuracy and sharp communication are key.
“I emphasize that if we can get our initial transaction accuracy down, then the entire organization becomes a lot more functional,” Taylor says. “We have to operate at a very efficient level in order to provide the services we need at the cost level we need for our customers.”
Efficiency became crucial shortly after Taylor joined Howard Supply Co., a supplier to the well-servicing segment of the oil and gas industry, in 2007. When the economy crashed in 2008, Taylor helped maintain the company’s financial success by downsizing across all locations, but very carefully, he says.
“The economic downturn had a different rate for different markets. We didn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach toward addressing those challenges because a lot of those decisions were market-driven. We’re a very agile company, but even so, we were chasing a falling revenue line month after month,” Taylor says. “We had to rapidly downsize to fit the new market as we knew it at that time, but we knew if we sliced it too close to the bone, we would kill the company. But we were able to enjoy the lucrative months that followed after we climbed out of that trough.”
Today the company has 20 locations stretching from Williston, N.D., down to Alice in South Texas, and about 250 employees. With more than 10,000 purchase orders generated monthly, Taylor says, accuracy and attention to detail up front are crucial to avoiding costly errors. He also helped implement an electronic document system that helped cut down unnecessary email traffic, also leading to more accurate business practices and procedures.
“Someone once told me if you really want to understand how a business works, go into accounting. You can really understand how business decisions are made,” Taylor says. “I consider myself an active CFO. I like being involved in decisions.”
What is the best piece of financial advice you’ve ever received?
Cash is king. Your working capital is something you have to manage and forecast and take care of. Babysit the working capital portion of any business plan and you won’t run out of money.
What books/publications do you read to stay ahead in your industry?
I read an online publication called Well Servicing Magazine. It is the industry information pipeline that I look at and I know my customers are looking at.
Who would you say is your hero/someone you look up to, and why?
The president of our company, Wayne Moody, has been a great mentor over the past five years. He is a very compassionate businessman and he understands the business very well. Very equal to Wayne is that of which I get from the operations managers in our stores.
– Celestina Blok