CFO of the Year Finalists (Small Private Company): Ron Faubion

CFO of the Year Finalists (Small Private Company): Ron Faubion
Ron Faubion
Chief Financial Officer, Keith Smith Co.
Hot Springs

Growing up in east Texas, Ron Faubion was fascinated with the terms his mother used such as “maintaining the books.”

Faubion’s mom was a bookkeeper for a chemical company in Texas, and the financial world appealed to him.

As far back as junior high school, Faubion loved keeping track of things and noting the results. “I find the interrelationship between financial and operational results intriguing,” the 50-year-old said.

Faubion majored in accounting and management at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and graduated in 1988.

His first job out of college was at Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems, which is now part of AT&T. He worked on the cellular side of the company, and in the early 1990s “it was like the Wild West.”

Faubion was in charge of the financial operations of six stores in the Dallas area and helped develop a software package that assisted with the tracking of cell phones and services.

He was promoted to vice president of finance for the Houston market.

After about a decade with AT&T, Faubion left to work for Dell Computers, where he was a strategic planning manager, and then went to the Little Rock law firm of Wilson & Associates PLLC, where he was a CFO.

In 2007, however, he started talking to the owner of Keith Smith Co. of Hot Springs, the largest independent producer and provider of broiler hatching eggs to the poultry industry in the U.S. and overseas.

The owner was looking for a controller but wanted to eventually upgrade that position to one with more financial responsibilities.

“It seemed to make a good alignment at the time,” said Faubion, who is now the company’s CFO.

He said he likes the challenge of trying to make the company run as efficiently as possible. That challenge is “how do we get our product from the production lines, which would be the farms, to our customers in the most effective manner while being able to track its movement through the information systems,” Faubion said.

Faubion said he had overseen the installation of a new accounting system, a new phone system and operational tracking system. As a result of the new systems, reports that used to take a week to 10 days to generate now can be ready in about two hours, he said.

Faubion’s moves are paying off. Keith Smith had revenue of $41 million in 2009 and is on pace to have $76 million in revenue this year, Faubion said.

He said his management style is to identify a problem and then get feedback from everybody involved. After the decision has been made, “I try and delegate and get out of the way. I’m a firm believer in letting … the employee have ownership of whatever it is they’re doing.”

Away from the financial world, Faubion is involved with St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock. He has taught a relationship-rebuilding course there and through the church has volunteered at Our House in Little Rock.