The Detective and
“Having our CFO has allowed us to excel and thrive so much more. If you’re thinking about it, it’s probably time for you to consider one.”
President & CEO
Justin Tomney is the founder and CEO of Ultra Bright Lightz, an online retailer supplying emergency vehicles with lighting and lighting accessories.
Before the company basically started in Justin’s garage, it started with his head and hands. Originally a volunteer firefighter, he saw a need for bright, affordable vehicle lighting. Affordability was key – volunteer firefighters have limited budget, but bright, dependable emergency lighting is critical for serving communities. Where previously $100 might buy one or two lights, Justin had a vision for outfitting an entire vehicle at that price. So he got to work. Literally, got to work – in the beginning he was manufacturing lights himself, soldering and assembling.
That was more than 15 years ago, and today Ultra Bright Lightz has more than 15 employees, including a leadership team under his direction. But that breadth of experience makes Justin an informed leader – there’s almost no role in the company he hasn’t filled himself.
Why Ultra Bright Lightz Engaged a Part-Time CFO
The decision to be a wholly online retailer was partly borne of Jason’s preference and business realities as a young upstart. Today it helps Ultra Bright Lightz serve a worldwide customer base with more manageable overhead. But supply, inventory, and customer concerns uniquely drive online business realities.
“Amazon has created this model of delivering things in two days,” Tomney says. “Ecommerce needs to have the product available in stock and be able to deliver it to any part of the United States. So carrying that inventory, managing that inventory, and cash flow to support that inventory is by far the biggest challenge.”
Enter Dan Bartley, CFO at ProCFO Partners. At first Justin was of a mind that he simply needed more expertise and guidance than his QuickBooks reports could offer. What he’s found in ProCFO Partners is a strategic complement to help shape the vision and future of the company.
The Value of ProCFO Partners to Ultra Bright Lightz
“Having Dan there to really get a better understanding of what’s going on with the business and the decisions I’m making and the effects that that’s having [has been critical]”, Justin says. “Having Dan here has been super helpful to really understand the finances and make sure everything’s staying in check. And we’re not overextending ourselves and we can afford that very expensive, but valuable inventory that I mentioned earlier.”
A case in point in the COVID era was skyrocketing shipping costs. Dan (“almost like a detective,” Tomney adds) realized the company was taking in a lot more freight via airplane, which is typically more expensive. Combine this with freight blockage in the Suez Canal, and with Bartley’s analysis, Justin was able to better understand what was happening, its implications to margin, and how to start course correcting. In other words, Dan Bartley helped put the financial functions of Ultra Bright Lightz in context.
“If You’re Thinking About a CFO, It’s Time To Get One.”
“If you’re running a business that’s complex in even the smallest way, where there are a lot of moving parts, inventory, a lot of transactions, you should definitely consider a (part-time) CFO,” Tomney advises. “Having our CFO has allowed us to excel and thrive so much more. If you’re thinking about it, it’s probably time for you to consider one.”