Michael Hawkins, Resonetics LLC
2012 Financial Executive of the Year winner
Michael Hawkins began working at Resonetics LLC as a consultant, contracted to upgrade the company's accounting and management information system.
"I helped them with that task -- recommending a system -- and as the old joke goes, then they hired me and it became my responsibility to implement the thing," he said.
Since joining the Nashua-based firm in 2008, Hawkins has made enormous contributions to the company, which specializes in laser micromachining products and services and has about 130 employees.
His first order of business - implementation of that new computer system - was a huge undertaking required to drive the growth of the company to $100 million.
As the company relocated to a much larger facility, he oversaw financial management of the move and negotiated its banking relationships to extend the firm's credit facilities to support the move.
During his tenure, he has also established a new reporting structure to give the Resonetics board access to timely information, resulting in a more than 50 percent growth in its medical business.
His most valuable contribution, though, "has been his ability to gain the trust of the operations staff," said Resonetics President Clifford Gabay. "The trust has resulted in operations looking to finance to help them fully understand the financial implications of their decisions before they are implemented, and margins have steadily improved as a direct result."
In his spare time, the Andover, Mass., resident uses his financial expertise to help his community. He has served as treasurer of his church for many years and treasurer of a nonprofit retirement community, which added a $40 million addition during his time on the board.
Q. How did you end up where you are today in your career?
A. I have an accounting degree from UMass Amherst. I was a practicing CPA with Arthur Andersen in Boston for 11 years, and in that capacity a number of my clients were manufacturing companies. In the intervening years, I've worked as a banker and as a manufacturing CFO and VP of operations.
I've done my share of consulting work -- I was a consultant for about five years, primarily for manufacturing companies. My introduction to Resonetics came when they were looking to upgrade their accounting and MRP system.
Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment during your tenure at Resonetics?
A. One was certainly bringing in the enterprise MRP (material requirements planning) system. We went from a very rudimentary internal ledger system supported by thousands of spreadsheets to an online system that does a lot to tie in the business and its information.
More recently, we implemented a cost accounting system where we're able to now use Epicor and other data from the manufacturing floor to get pretty much real-time job cost information. We actually report our key sales on a weekly basis, all of our activity on a monthly basis, so we know what our costs are, what our gross margins are, and what makes up our cost, including production metrics, the number of units produced per shift and per man hour, and that's helped us fine-tune how we're staffing jobs and processing jobs to improve the margins.
Q. What have been some of the biggest professional challenges you've faced in your career?
A. Certainly learning a new industry is always both exciting and a challenge, although they all have the common currency -- we're all in it to make money and provide good employment opportunities for our employees. It's always a challenge to learn a new computer system, and particularly to implement it from the ground up.
Q. What are your hobbies/personal interests?
A. My wife and I have one son, and he was a football player and baseball player in high school and into his early college days, so for many years I was able to go see virtually all of his high school baseball games, and that was a real treat to have the flexibility to do that and cheer him on.
At our church in Andover, I was involved as either the assistant treasurer or treasurer for close to 15 years, and I have been and continue to be a board member and the treasurer of Edgewood Retirement Community in North Andover.
Q. Looking to the future, what are some of the challenges and opportunities that you see on the horizon for Resonetics?
A. This is an investor-owned company, so our challenge is to grow and be profitable and create value for the investors, which is kind of a happy balance because it also creates opportunities for the professional managers here and it creates employment opportunities.