As an outsourced CFO, Randy Miller brings military-type strategy and tactics to turning businesses around.
Coming from a military family, Randy spent much of his childhood surrounded by veterans. Reading books and having deep conversations with his father instilled a love of military history.
Listen to Randy’s story here.
Click here for transcript
Intro Speaker 0:00
From Los Angeles, this is the Echelon Radio Network.
Jerri Hemsworth 0:14
So, this is Jerri Hemsworth. And this is the Echelon Radio Podcast. And I’m sitting here with Randy Miller. Randy, RMM Accounting, and outsourced CFO services.
Randy Miller 0:29
Correct. I was an internal CFO for 25 years, and went out in 2009 on my own as a consultant.
Jerri Hemsworth 0:38
Why did you do that?
Randy Miller 0:41
It was half forced, and half something I’d always wanted to do. The forced half was the financial meltdown.
Jerri Hemsworth 0:51
Yeah, that was a bad one. Yep.
Randy Miller 0:54
I was in mortgage banking and my company, we were doing fine. But our warehouse bank was not. So they took away our line of credit, and we stopped business. So.
Jerri Hemsworth 1:06
That’ll do it.
Randy Miller 1:06
That’ll do it. And I just said, you know, time to go out on my own. So I did.
Jerri Hemsworth 1:12
And how have you felt being on your own since then?
Randy Miller 1:18
It’s fun. But it’s also challenging at times, having to find new business and be a marketing person is new for me. I never thought of it that way. Never thought of actually being in sales.
Jerri Hemsworth 1:38
I don’t think any entrepreneur who starts their own business does think of that. I mean, unless they come out of marketing. Right? And that’s just a, it’s a new, I didn’t think about it when I started Newman Grace. And, and you’re just all of a sudden, you’re like, Ah!
Randy Miller 1:55
You find yourself wearing a lot of new hats. And you have to reset your mind really, to start saying, Okay, oh, I really did this before, I just didn’t think of myself as marketing. I would have to be the face of the company, I would have to talk to banks, I would have to talk to investors. But I never thought of it as marketing. Now I just had to reset to say, yes, that is something I do.
Jerri Hemsworth 2:19
And did you reach back to those relationships you’d had in the past when you were in house with clients, and let them know what you were doing?
Randy Miller 2:27
A few of them. Some of them had actually gone out of business as a part of the meltdown. So some of them weren’t there. And we had moved to Florida to start our new company, two years before the meltdown. So there was some coming back to LA and setting up again, there were some connections that were lost. But I was able to reach out to some of the attorneys I knew from before and some of the bankers and that kind of started it.
Jerri Hemsworth 2:59
And that had to be when you started networking pretty heavily.
Randy Miller 3:03
A couple years after that. I got very lucky when I first started, I got a client right away that ended up being very full time. So it was about three or four years into that. And that was a bankruptcy case. As that started to wind down, I realized, Oh, I need to find more clients. And I realized, I’m gonna have to go out and do this strange thing called network. Oh, how do I do that?
Jerri Hemsworth 3:40
And if you’re if you’re not an extrovert, which most people aren’t, it can be a little painful getting started until you know the people in the room.
Randy Miller 3:49
It was and I was very fortunate. Another Echelon member, Jim Cagle, who I actually was working with as part of my client. He was their CPA, for taxes. He introduced me to a networking group. And that’s how I got into doing that.
Jerri Hemsworth 4:07
That’s kind of cool. That’s very cool. So as an outsourced CFO, what is your purview, if you will? You just said Jim Cagle is doing taxes. But you don’t do taxes, do you?
Randy Miller 4:21
I do not.
Jerri Hemsworth 4:22
But you’re an accountant.
Randy Miller 4:24
Yes, as a CFO, when you’re working with businesses, and I work almost exclusively with family owned businesses, there’s a lot of nuances to not only the business taxes, the change around it on a regular basis, but also many of the business owners have their same CPA doing their personal taxes, and how that all fits together. There’s a lot of stuff in their personal life that I may not know about, we usually don’t know about. So it just became easier to say hey, I’m not doing this part of it, I’ll work with your tax CPA or your wealth manager or whoever you have. That had two nice little side effects to it. One, I didn’t have to learn to do taxes and keep up with them 24 hours, seven days a week. And two, I was no longer competition for the CPAs. So they felt a lot better about working with me, because I’m just going to make your life easier by referring to you. And by setting things up for you. And by coordinating with you. So that you can, you know, you’ll get the right information at the time you need it. And I don’t have to worry about doing taxes.
Jerri Hemsworth 5:44
That’s fantastic. Because taxes is a whole different ball of wax, like you said. So when you go into a company, you’re really taking over their financial side. And then many times, aren’t you helping them either grow or to build and to sell, get ready to sell?
Randy Miller 6:02
Yes. So and a lot of that is, in addition to many cases where I’m cleaning up the financial statements, and sometimes even creating the monthly financial statements and the reporting and everything. I also sometimes get involved in organizational management and helping them set up and then especially in a growth situation where they’ve gone to the point where they’ve outgrown the systems they have, or they need more talent than they have or their talent that they have needs more support. And that happens a lot, especially in accounting, because accounting is a cost center, and doesn’t bring in revenue. So it gets ignored. It just does.
Jerri Hemsworth 6:49
It’s just the way it works.
Randy Miller 6:50
And a lot of times the people there are overwhelmed and they know it but they just don’t know how to ask for help. And then there’s a lot of communication that doesn’t go on where I can help sales and marketing and production by saying okay, what can we in accounting do that will make your lives easier? And if you want that, here’s what you’re going to need to do for us. So you remove a lot of roadblocks in a lot of cases and people fingerpointing because you’re able to say, okay, we’re here to help you. But you need to tell us what you want. And you’re probably going to need to give us information too, about how you’re doing things so we can figure out how to make it work.
Jerri Hemsworth 7:32
It sounds like you’re a breath of fresh air that comes in actually instead of being fearful. People, when you go into a company, they shouldn’t feel fearful because you’re going to help them and increase productivity. And it’s it’s a two way street right in there.
Randy Miller 7:47
Right. You have to overcome that at first because they are thinking—
Jerri Hemsworth 7:51
Well, they don’t trust you. You’re gonna hack my job, or you’re gonna cut me or something. Right? You’re the hatchet man.
Randy Miller 7:58
Yeah. And I’ve never gone to, even when I was doing bankruptcy work, I’ve never gone into a situation thinking that I was a hatchet person. And I’ve only had to do that on one occasion. And that was when it turned out that many of the employees were involved in a fraud scheme.
Jerri Hemsworth 8:15
Oh, that’s not good.
Randy Miller 8:17
But usually I’m there to just build staff, create procedures, eliminate roadblocks, and get everybody so they have a clearer picture of where the company is. Have the owners understand what’s really working and help them get to the next level.
Jerri Hemsworth 8:33
That’s fantastic. I love that idea. I love that. So I’m going to switch gears a little bit. Where were you born?
Randy Miller 8:40
Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Jerri Hemsworth 8:42
How long were you in Ann Arbor, Michigan?
Randy Miller 8:46
We moved, my family moved out here in 1970. So I was there for 11 years.
Jerri Hemsworth 8:54
Why did your family move out here?
Randy Miller 8:57
My dad was working for the University of Michigan, He was in charge of all their risk management. And after 15 years just said I’m tired and wanted to do something else. So we moved to Modesto. He worked for the Gallo brothers for a year.
Jerri Hemsworth 9:18
Too much wine?
Randy Miller 9:19
It was his first foray into family owned operations.
Jerri Hemsworth 9:23
Ah, big shift.
Randy Miller 9:25
Yes. And said Okay, done with that. So, we came down here, and pretty much been here ever since.
Jerri Hemsworth 9:36
So he was a military man, wasn’t he?
Randy Miller 9:39
My dad and my grandfather were both career military.
Jerri Hemsworth 9:42
You are, and a lot of people don’t know this about you, but you are one of the greatest military historians I’ve ever heard. You know so Much. And is there something about military history that bit you early or that you just absorb?
Randy Miller 10:07
Coming from a military family, it wasn’t just my dad, my grandfather, my great grandfather, I have cousins. I was actually looking at going to West Point before I blew out my knees in high school, but it was always steeped in. It was one of the things my dad and I would spend a lot of time talking and reading books together about even from when I was maybe eight, nine years old. And part of it too, my grandfather was the commanding officer for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was in World War Two, the Japanese American EC unit that was the most decorated army unit in the history of the army. So getting involved with all that, and in having that background, made history, just something that we really could have delved into, and we would also do trips that wasn’t just World War Two. Sometimes in the summer, when my dad was off from the university, we would travel to battlefields, Civil War battlefields and things like that.
Jerri Hemsworth 11:19
Would you drive for the most part? Cross country?
Randy Miller 11:22
Yes, cross country, we did road trips back then.
Jerri Hemsworth 11:25
So and did you enjoy that? Was that just like the coolest thing, once you got to that battlefield?
Randy Miller 11:30
It was pretty neat. It was pretty neat. You could you know, with the reading everything, you can see how the battles laid out and progressed and and how terrain worked, and how also to what you don’t get from a lot of the books and everything. And even the movies, how close, especially in the Civil War, you know, you had battle lines that were 30 yards, 20 yards apart. And so it could also be a little, you know, it’s eye opening too for the amount of carnage that can be wreaked. A lot of damage and a lot of casualties and everything with because at that close quarters, it’s in many cases hard to miss.
Jerri Hemsworth 12:23
Did you did you enjoy the strategies that were going on there on the battlefield? Did you get into that part?
Randy Miller 12:30
A little bit. More now, I’m starting to do you know, in the last five or 10 years more reading on some of the strategies, especially I had a fair amount in World War Two. But I’ve been working into civil war and things like that. Not just the, you know, the strategies of a single battle, but the whole war. And how do you have Lincoln and the generals, and how they work together? Going back to the Revolutionary War. Washington and those guys in the Revolutionary War. And you know how with Washington, he knew he couldn’t really win. But if he could not lose for a long enough time, the British would eventually make a mistake. And then they could have the one battle they had at Yorktown with Cornwallis and all that. So his ability to figure out the strategic retreat, to save his troops and save his resources so that eventually the British would get tired.
Jerri Hemsworth 13:37
I have to say, Randy, from the outside, listening in what you do for a living, I see amazing parallels with strategy. You know, making sure things move the right way, in order to win. And if you need to retreat, you have a plan. Have you ever put that together?
Randy Miller 14:03
You know, I hadn’t really thought of it exactly that way. But you’re right. Because sometimes in working with a business, it’s like, okay, we need to slow down. We need to rethink. You’ve overreached. But, yeah. And there’s a lot of tweaking that goes on in what I do, too. Many entrepreneurs have great ideas. But many of them need to be tweaked just a little bit to make them practically work.
Jerri Hemsworth 14:29
And so they don’t fail or lose. It’s a long war.
Randy Miller 14:35
Right, and you can’t go in too many directions at once.
Jerri Hemsworth 14:40
And I have one more question for you. You mentioned somewhere in your life being a roustabout. What is that story?
Randy Miller 14:52
When I went to University of Southern California, and I started in petroleum engineering. I wanted to do that because my goal when I came out of high school was to get into the oil industry. Well to actually go to school, get a degree in petroleum engineering, then go to law school, then become a lawyer for the oil companies. I don’t know why I picked the oil companies, but I just did it. It sounded really interesting. So anyway, summer after my freshman year, I worked outside of Bakersfield, a town called Taft as rest about and the bottom level as the sudden summer hire college kid you know, they started it at 7 and ended at 3:30 because of the heat. But I pulled pipe, measured wells, became a welders assistant. Dug ditches. Yeah, yeah.
Jerri Hemsworth 16:05
And how fast did you realize, “yeah, not for me.”
Randy Miller 16:08
It was still okay. But then you know, I will say though, that the other thing I learned real quickly was like, the other guys on the crew said, you know, “you’re a college kid. So go home on the weekends, because if you stay in town, it won’t be good.” And a couple times, you know, if I if I said something they said, you know, “let the big boys figure out how this really works.” That was pretty good. No, what made me change my mind were 1) when I graduated, it was gonna be “we’re gonna send you to the swamps in Louisiana, more than likely for a couple of years.” That wasn’t a thrill.
Jerri Hemsworth 16:58
It’s not something they told you at the beginning.
Randy Miller 17:00
I was kind of thinking offshore, to go on one of the offshore rigs. But no, that was gonna be it. The other one was, they had a certain class that everybody had to take in petroleum engineering and physical chemistry. And I was sitting down with the dean of the school. The dean of the school, you know, is is my guidance counselor, and he said, Okay, so you’ll take this here in your junior year and then you’ll take it again and your senior year because nobody passes the first time. Everybody flunks.
Jerri Hemsworth 17:34
Oh, how wonderful.
Randy Miller 17:36
That’s how hard the course is. And by the way, this is a five year program. Oops. So I decided that business was a nice…actually, English was my second one. And then business was the way I ended up.
Jerri Hemsworth 17:53
Great story. Yeah. Petroleum Engineering to English. Yeah. I love it. So good.
Randy Miller 18:00
I actually really liked, I liked English Lit a lot. I spent a lot of time I did. Both in high school and in college. I took probably five semesters of English Lit just because I really liked it. I have no poetic skills at all.
Jerri Hemsworth 18:20
You don’t have to. You can appreciate it. Yeah. You’re not gonna write it.
Randy Miller 18:26
No, I was definitely not there.
Jerri Hemsworth 18:28
Okay, I get it. Gosh. See, I had no idea. There’s so many sides to you. I love it. You’re so well rounded.
Randy Miller 18:37
Jerri Hemsworth 18:39
Randy Miller, thanks for sitting with me today.
Randy Miller 18:41
It’s been very enjoyable. Thank you very much.
Intro Speaker 18:50
Presented by Echelon Business Development. More than just networking. Way more.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai