As part of the PE firm he started, Mike doubled a multi-million dollar logistics company, sold it to a competitor, and invested in a food startup as a minority owner. He has also led product development and pricing divisions for a major consumer goods company. As a freelancer, he has experience improving margins, seizing new market opportunities, and managing the M&A process of companies in a variety of industries and maturities.
Provided seed capital via a convertible debt instrument for a food delivery/prepared foods startup. Converted into equity in April 2017, after meeting construction budgeting and initial sales targets.
Worked actively during the startup phase to build out a three-year budget, market size analysis, and ROI calculations to understand the amount of capital and resources required.
Developed a pricing plan to match brand promise with competitive activity in a fast growing sector of the food business. Benchmarked the value offered by Rosedale's Finest vs. other high-end grocers like Whole Foods.
Led negotiations with several food and produce companies to get the best pricing and payment terms to ensure initial 60% gross margin and healthy cash flows post launch.
Sent out mail flyers, set up signs, partnered with established local businesses, and got a write-up in Globe & Mail to build initial awareness of Rosedale's Finest. We were not mentioned as a partner as the debt was converted to equity after the article was written. Link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/battle-of-gourmet-grocers-brews-in-rosedale/article34204685/.
Built a team of three angel investors (including myself) to acquire an underperforming food logistics company. Led the acquisition team to initiate an LOI, negotiated the sale of purchase agreement, and ran the due diligence. The overall process took six months after signing the NDA.
Refocused the product mix from low margin dry baking goods (e.g., flour and sugar) to higher margin/less competitive frozen foods. Included building out larger industrial freezers, developing relationships with new suppliers, and finding new channels to sell products such as mass grocery.
Raised margins by +2% during a period wherein SYSCO/GFS was involved in a price war by applying for rebate programs not being taken advantage of, pursuing truck load buys, increasing prices while improving service levels (which we rigorously measured), changing the product mix, and negotiating better supplier terms.
Achieved $2+ million in sales by executing on a new sales strategy: (1) implemented a frozen food pivot; (2) personally cold called chefs, adding new clients like the CN Tower and Hilton Hotels; (3) hired a sales director to increase the client base; (4) promoted an office manager to inside sales manager with the goal to sell more products through existing customers. We focused on adding new customers located on our existing routes in order to increase capacity, thus maximizing return on assets.
Developed a strict 20-, 30-, and 40-day collection policy managed by the inside sales manager, who spoke to customers on daily basis. Before, VanMar had a very lax A/R collection policy, putting strain on its day-to-day cash position and preventing the company from doing truck load buys.
Reduced overall expenses by 15% through lease contract renegotiation, preventative care on the truck/freezer, and upgraded inventory system, improving the efficiency of the warehouse. However, I did award all employees health benefits to increase morale and lower turnover.
Converted ConAgra from its "cost + margin" to a "Price to Value" pricing policy, bringing more data analysis in order to capture more consumer surplus being generated by marketing, in-store merchandising, and new products.
Led open communication with Walmart, Costco, Target, and other major retailers regarding ConAgra's pricing/promotion activities with theentire market. Proactively informing Target of what ConAgra was running in the future with Walmart allowed us to develop strong programs with Target (and vice versa), thus strengthening supplier/retailer relationships.
Built models and partnered with Neilsen to get real-time data on customer patterns when products were discounted at Walmart. The goal was to see what worked (e.g., 50% off, 2 for $3, in weekend flyers, buy space outside of aisle) and what retailers to invest in (Walmart growing quickly, Safeway declining market share).
Developed pricing ladders to see where market opportunities existed and to meet consumer demand (single beer cans to encourage sampling vs. 12 pack to reward loyal buyers with a price discount). For example, "to-go-snacks" in the $0.99 range were very popular at gas stations. ConAgra had no products to meet this consumer need, so we developed pack sizes to sell to this consumer/retail channel.
Led price increase inputs into the budget and had to develop new ideas when volume fell short or costs exceeded expectations. ConAgra would rely on pricing actions (price increase or better ROI for promotional activities) to meet shortfalls in actual vs. budget performance.
Led the process for licensed stores and food service (Starbucks sold outside of corporate owned stores); presented to the international team in Seattle. Involved in international budgeting and presented next step actions to C-suite executives. If budget growth targets failed to meet Wall Street expectations, I led meetings with key business leaders to brainstorm ideas on how to improve sales forecasts.
Developed the Excel valuation models to calculate $150 million intrinsic value of Seattle's Best Coffee in Canada. After purchase from WhiteFish Private Equity, involved with the Canadian leadership team to identify synergy cost savings and new sales channels (e.g., Burger King and Subway).
Developed Excel models and worked closely with the sales team to educate/collaborate on where to invest their annual capital budgets. For example, we invested in building out stores in Sheraton Hotels due to high potential ROA/brand match, but we rejected other major initiatives like partnering with airlines due to extremely low margins and the inability to deliver a high-quality cup of coffee to customers.
Presented year-to-date results to the president and leadership team every quarter. After collaboration with unit business leaders, calculated a full-year forecast and worked with the leadership team to identify the best course of action to bridge any gaps to budget.
Improved quarterly communication regarding the development of KPI's with C-suite executives who never looked at the balance sheet or operational metrics to assess performance.
Focus areas: Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A), Budgeting, Cost Reduction & Optimization, Ratio Analysis, Variance Analysis, Pro Forma Financial Statements, Profit & Loss, P&L Forecasting, Valuation Modeling, Equity Valuation
Meal Kit Industry Blues: How Can Blue Apron Lift Its Malaise? (Publication)
In the past five years, Blue Apron has brought meal kits to the masses and commands a 40% market share in the USA. Yet all is not rosy; its financial losses have continually accelerated and it has ceded 17% of its market share in the past year.
Amazon buying Whole Foods on the eve of its 2017 IPO could have just been bad luck, or prescient signs of what’s to come for Blue Apron. This article looks at ways that the business can get its house in order and win back the Millennial kitchen.