When Robert Paulson—Bob, to most—first started as Controller at Future Link IT in 2006, he found a common scenario for small businesses: consummate bootstrappers, owners Marty Mingl and Carl Roedel were up to their elbows in all aspects of their business. They had a bookkeeper, but little else.
Up until that point, there had been no one in-house to manage the accounting, plan and track cash flow, or report on how the firm was doing financially at any point in time. As any entrepreneur who has built a business from the ground up will recognize, it meant that they were, in essence, flying blind. And the business was growing rapidly.
It was a perfect opportunity for Bob, Carl’s brother-in-law, whose run as Assistant Controller at cable and wire manufacturer Dearborn/CDT was coming to an end. He had worked daily with the controller for 13 years, handling accounts payable and receivable, administering the 401k plan, and calculating commissions for the sales team, along with other payroll numbers.
In fact, he had always been “in” accounting. Growing up in Palatine, math came easy to him. Bob took an accounting class in high school, and it was a natural fit. He never wavered from that path, graduating from Western Illinois University with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting.
“The writing was on the wall at Dearborn,” Bob explained his departure from his first job out of college. “There had been merger after merger, including with Belden, a large cable manufacturer with a plant in Nashville. They did what we did, with a lot less overhead. It was just a matter of time before they moved operations.” Bob had no desire to relocate to Tennessee. True to his prediction, about a year after he left Dearborn, they closed up and moved.
Bob hit the ground running at Future Link, instituting sorely-needed accounting processes and systems. “There was an accounting program in place, but it was more a matter of getting to the place where the owners could get a handle on what’s going on.”
As a result, Marty and Carl were freed from being in the office all the time. It gave them peace of mind, knowing Bob had things under control and could keep them up-to-date on the financial side of business.
To this day, Bob remains the sole person responsible for all accounting responsibilities. And he wears a few other hats as well: “If it’s not directly related to fixing a computer or programming, I have a hand in it,” he chuckled. Bob is the primary buyer for supplies and equipment, supporting sales and service; a bit office manager; and the HR department, to boot.
On a personal note, Bob met his wife when they were both students in Palatine. She was finishing up her education certificate, and he was about to go away to Western Illinois. They now live in Fox Lake. They have two children, a daughter (21) and son (19). When he’s not working, Bob plays softball with a league; during the fall and winter, he plays basketball.
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