North Little Rock
Even in high school, Adam Kohler was interested in math and finance. He couldn't have chosen a better career to satisfy that interest.
One of the people he most admired in school was a friend's father who was a successful CPA. So off he went to the University of Arkansas, graduating in 1990 with an accounting degree.
His first job was with L. Cotton Thomas & Co., a Little Rock accounting firm, where he worked for eight years, picking up a broad knowledge of business and accounting for different industries. He then spent the next nine years at Arkansas Children's Hospital as vice president of financial operations.
Two years ago, Angela Harrison, CEO of Welsco, persuaded him to make another career switch to the distributor of welding supplies and industrial gases.
As a CFO, "it's important to know every detail," Kohler said. But, he said, he depends on the views of the good, experienced people with whom he works. The true teamwork of working toward a common goal has been a key to his success at Welsco, as well as the company's success, he said.
"I alone do not come close to having all the answers, but with the incredible support and insight of our management team, the right direction is identified and success immediately follows," he said.
When it comes time to make that hard decision, however, Kohler said he always asks, "What's the right thing to do?" and things usually will work out when he does that.
Kohler said the current economic environment has been the biggest challenge of his career, but the company is doing very well. Even though sales are down, he expects the bottom line to increase this year thanks to expense control and new revenue sources.
Kohler has served on the board of the Cathedral School in Little Rock and still volunteers with the Early Childhood Education Program at Trinity Cathedral. He is currently treasurer of the national board of Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY USA).