Phil Castle, The Business Times
Rick Langley brings to his latest business venture nearly 35 years of experience managing companies in a wide variety of industries. He remains passionate about helping other business owners achieve success.
But he also offers what he considers another important attribute: integrity.
Along with running a startup personal computer assembly company and turning around a bankrupt shutter and door manufacturer he purchased, Langley was a key witness in bringing to justice a Grand Junction firm perpetuating a sham investment scheme.
“I am always open and honest with my clients,” he said.
Langley is one of more than 200 partners working across the United States for B2B CFO, the largest firm of its type in the country offering financial and management advisory services to small- and medium-sized businesses that need a senior financial advisor from one to five days a month.
B2B CFO has ranked among the 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies in the country for four straight years in a listing compiled by Inc. magazine.
B2B CFO partners are like chief financial officers, Langley said, in offering not only financial management, but also services that improve operational efficiencies and profitability as well as growth and exit strategies.
While B2B CFO partners work independently and personally for their clients, partners also can tap the resources of other partners to assist clients, Langley said. “All of our partners have a minimum of 25 years of experience, so there’s not a problem we haven’t faced or can’t solve.”
Moreover, B2B CFO partners work at the direction of their clients without any contracts, he said. “We do everything on a handshake. We don’t want clients to feel that they have to commit to a contract for our services.”
To promote new relationships with clients, B2B CFO partners offer what’s called a Discovery Analysis, which includes a confidential meeting with business owners to discuss their financial information and computer systems and benchmark their financial information against industry averages. “We want to demonstrate and provide real value to our clients upfront ,” Langley said.
From that starting point, partners and clients work together to develop plans for improving financial operations and processes that in turn increase profitability and company value, he said.
An exit strategy is also part of the plan to help business owners prepare for the time when they want to sell their companies, Langley said. Exit strategies are especially important given what Langley described as a”tsunami” of baby boomer business owners at or near retirement age selling their operations, creating what likely will be a buyer’s market for the next decade.
Preparing to sell a business is like a selling a house, Langley said, in that addressing and fixing problems beforehand can increase the price the owner realizes. B2B CFO offers proprietary computer software that guides business owners through the process, he added.
Unlike some consultants who’ve never managed or owned a business, Langley said he’s worked as a CFO and entrepreneur. “I can empathize with business owners about the challenges and difficulties of running a business.”
After earning an accounting degree and his license as certified public accountant, Langley’s first job out of college was with a regional accounting firm in San Francisco. Langley said he became an audit manager and also offered management advisory services to clients in a variety of industries during his five years in public accounting.
Langley later became CFO of a startup company that was the first in the United States to produce and sell a personal computer, monitor and keyboard for less than $1,000.
Only three months into the job, the president of the company resigned. The investor who funded the company put more money into the operation and hired Langley as president. Within two years, annual sales for the company topped $5 million, Langley said. Langley sold his interest in the firm to the investor when they agreed to move the mail order operation from California to Minnesota.
Langley then purchased a natural hot springs resort in a national park in Washington. The resort included cabins, a campground and RV park as well as a gift shop, grocery store and restaurant. While he initially knew nothing about running such operations, he said he turned the resort into the top destination in the park.
Langley sold the resort for a profit and returned to California to be closer to his father, who had been diagnosed with cancer.
Moving to Palm Springs, Langley purchased the building and equipment of a wood shutter and door manufacturer he said had a long-standing reputation for quality products — “it was like furniture for your windows” — but had gone bankrupt after 40 years in operation under the management of an aging owner with health problems.
Langley said he hired back a manager to oversee production and worked himself to re-establish relationships with customers and increase sales. The company eventually employed 23 people and was sold at a profit, he said.
Langley subsequently was recruited as a CFO for a large construction and real estate development firm in Southern California. But as the real estate market softened, Langley said he and his family decided to move closer to his wife’s parents in Western Kansas. Langley also said he wanted to live in a smaller town because his son was starting high school.
In 2008, Langley said he was recruited for and offered a job as CFO of Valley Investments in Grand Junction.
Langley said he soon realized the business wasn’t about real estate development and affordable home construction, but something far different. “They misrepresented the position and the company from day 1.”
Langley resigned after just a few months and subsequently decided to share his information with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and testified at court proceedings.
Valley Investments founder Philip Lochmiller Sr.; his stepson, Philip Lochmiller Jr.; and their employee, Shawnee Carver were sentenced on charges of conspiracy, money laundering and fraud. According to evidence presented at trial and other documents from the prosecution, Valley Investments received more than $30 million in investments between 2000 and 2009. But the money was used for purposes other than what investors were told, including personal and family expenses and other non-business expenses. Moreover, incoming investor funds were used to make principal and interest payments to existing investors to perpetuate a Ponzi scheme.
Langley said he faced a difficult and unsettling situation because he’d just moved his family to Grand Junction, purchased a home and didn’t know anyone in town. “After many years of doing business with integrity and honesty, I was faced with a very difficult situation that put me and family at significant personal risk.”
But he also knew what he had to do. “It was hard not to do the right thing to protect the community from a gross injustice and fraud.”
Langley still wonders if that’s what brought him and his family to Grand Junction. “Everything happens for a reason.”
Langley was recruited as CFO of an international construction company based in Montrose and worked there for more than two years. After spending the following 18 months as an interim CFO helping a business owner solve a system conversion problem in California, Langley returned to Colorado. He became a partner in CFO B2B in December.
In January, Langley was appointed to the Grand Junction Regional Airport Authority. He said he wanted to volunteer his time and expertise at a challenging time given the FBI investigation into airport operations.
Even after more than three decades of helping to manage and owning business, Langley said he’s still excited about what he does. “I have a passion to help companies be more successful and profitable.”
Integrity remains another hallmark, he said: “It’s all about honesty and integrity and serving the needs of my clients.”
For more information about CFO B2B, contact Rick Langley at 985-1683 or visit the website at www.ricklangleycfo.com.