Posted 10/26/2009 12:00 am
Updated 2 years ago
Harps Food Stores Inc.
At the age of 16, Jim Antz loved to run the family gas station during the summer. Little did he know that the cash-counting shifts would begin a love affair with numbers that would take him to the top of a multimillion-dollar firm.
Long before wielding the company calculator at Harps Food Stores Inc., Antz earned a bachelor's degree in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia and a master's in finance from the University of Texas at Austin.
After graduating, Antz went to work for accounting firm Arthur Anderson LLP. After completing a fortuitous job of installing computer systems for Harps, the grocery chain decided to scoop Antz up and make him management information systems director. Antz continued in that role for another 11 years until a promotion to vice president of information came his way. That position stuck for about two years until Antz returned to his roots in numbers. Harps named Antz chief financial officer in 2000.
Soon after, Antz helped undertake what would become the greatest accomplishment of his career. From 2000 to 2001, Harps transformed into an employee-owned company. Countless hours of negotiating with family members, management, attorneys, bankers, advisers and trustees finally resulted in a 100 percent employee-owned company. Antz is quite proud of the undertaking.
As if wading through millions of numbers doesn't keep him busy, Antz finds time to give back to his community. Antz serves on the boards of directors of the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank and the Arkansas Grocers & Retail Merchants Association. He also is a member of the John Brown University Parent Council and a small-group leader at Fellowship Bible Church.
As the head of finance for a 63-store chain, Antz said his management philosophy is to empower employees to do their jobs and trust them to do it.
Looking back over his career, Antz said he wasn't sure what attracted him to crunching numbers during summers at the family fill-up station in Long Island, N.Y.
"I just really enjoyed working with finance and numbers and money."