Tod Creech never thought he’d end up in an office job. Growing up in a small town in eastern North Carolina, Creech pictured himself as an engineer working on construction sites. But after landing a scholarship at East Carolina University, which didn’t have an engineering program at the time, Creech found he had a talent for accounting while pursuing a degree in construction management. He wound up in public accounting for 15 years.
One of his clients was general contractor Edifice Inc. One day, Eric Laster, the owner of Edifice, called Creech up to see if he could recommend someone to replace his chief financial officer, who had recently departed the company.
“I sent him several names,” Creech said. “The more I kept selling other people on this job — on how good of a company Edifice was and you really ought to go talk to this guy about this CFO position — I basically sold myself on it.”
Creech today oversees the finance department and the business side of Edifice’s day-to-day operations, often in partnership with Gary Creed, the company’s chief operating officer. One of Creech’s major roles is risk management. Creech has also taken on additional tasks such as leading several software conversions that have made daily tasks more efficient and streamlined, as well as restructuring job responsibilities in correlation with the company’s growth.
What are some goals you have as CFO for making sure things on the business and financial side keep up with Edifice’s growth?
As the revenue and volume grow, you’ve got to have solid balance sheets, so that’s part of what I try to keep my eye on — making sure we manage that balance sheet growth. A goal for myself is to make sure that I’m contributing positive change because you can’t be static.
The construction industry is one of the most visibly impacted by changes in the economy. As CFO, how do you work through the ups and downs?
We know that it’s not a straight trajectory, that there’s valleys and peaks, and we try to always make sure that we don’t grow our overhead out of proportion. Most of the costs we’re trying to keep as variable costs so that you can adjust up and down, as opposed to adding long-term fixed costs.
We (also try) not to focus on short-term impact. We’re not going to bid on projects for break-even. We need to have some margin of profitability on those jobs; we’re not taking that risk just to have work to do.