A Case Study in Future-Proofing a Local Health Facility

The Situation:

A community mental and behavioral health facility has been providing a wide range of residential care, counseling, and other community health services for youth, adults, and families since the 1960s. These programs represent Core Services, funded by public contract sources – 60% of its total budget, and Transforming Services, funded by donor contributions -less than 10% of the annual operating funds. The facility experienced a declining patient population due to state regulatory and procedural changes, and caretaker staffing difficulties. Despite new leadership in 2020 to initiate a wide-reaching plan to grow the organization and steamline its operations, COVID-19 and additional state regulation changes, forced the facility to reconsider its services and address operational inefficiences, while trying to maintain excellent patient care. In 2022, they enlisted DWH to assess and identify gaps between business best practices and its current state, and to provide recommendations to bridge these gaps to facilitate the improvement of the Organization’s operating and financial performance.

The Solution:

DWH developed an understanding of the facility by gathering qualitative and quantitative data through interviews with key employees and stakeholders; examining and understanding key assets (on- and off-balance sheet) and processes; and reviewing certain financial and non-financial information. DWH was able to identify and assess the facility’s current state, areas for improvement and provided recommendations that were divided into three main areas of (1) Leadership, (2) Finance and Management Information, and (3)Operations.

The Outcome:

DWH was able to identify gaps and make best practices recommendations to close those gaps. We developed and prioritized “Next Steps” for the organization including quick-win items to create momentum within the organization and longer-term projects to become part of strategic planning. Finally, the facility received a 13-week cash flow forecast summary to help with cash management, decision-making, and communication with key stakeholders.

 

 

As a group of financial and business professionals, DWH offers expertise and support so companies can embrace change for the better. Built on a core philosophy that every stakeholder matters, we listen to those who shape a business and guide that business to its best value, outcomes, and opportunities. All companies experience change. Plan for it with us.

 

A Case Study in Ensuring Financial Resilience

The Situation:

A Michigan-based manufacturing company specializing in assembling products in the industrial, automotive, office furniture, and commercial appliance industries is known for delivering precision-engineered manufacturing solutions for its customers. The company hired DWH as a requirement of its bank for them to engage a third party to evaluate current financial projections, perform a stress test on these forecasts, and assist with developing or enhancing tools and processes to support future growth.

The Solution:

DWH evaluated the company’s working capital model, annual budgets and forecasts, and a 13-week Cash Flow forecast by gathering underlying qualitative and quantitative data collected through interviews with key employees and stakeholders, examining and understanding critical assets and processes, and obtaining and reviewing certain financial and non-financial information. This data formed the basis for understanding the financial state of the business and allowed DWH to assess the company’s financial resilience by conducting a series of hypothetical scenarios simulating various economic and market conditions, using the financial information and models provided.

The Outcome:

After researching and collecting extensive financial data from the company and performing the stress test scenarios, DWH delivered detailed recommendations for the company. These recommendations include best business practice guidelines and future risk mitigation strategies based on an analysis of its current financial situation and projected growth in the future. The company now has a full understanding of its financial resilience.

 

 

Meet Our Newest Team Members

Lyndon Grooters | DWH Senior Financial Analyst

For most of his career, Lyndon has focused on costing, pricing, and analytics in manufacturing and family-owned settings. He has led projects that range from building highly interactive sales dashboards to overhauling quote models and methodology. He earned his BBA in Finance from Grand Valley State University. In previous roles, Lyndon has been responsible for researching, understanding, and summarizing costs, providing strategic price recommendations to leadership teams, and performing a range of financial analyses, including forecasts and sensitivity analysis. He improves decision-making and draws insights through financial modeling, KPIs, and dashboarding. At DWH he focuses on cost analysis, cash flow modeling, and data visualization. Lyndon and his wife, Mattie, live in Grand Rapids with their dog, Leo, and two cats, Merlin and Arthur. Find out more about Lyndon by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.

 

Andrew Knowlton | DWH Senior Director

Andy Knowlton has more than 35 years of experience in leading finance teams, managing the finance function, and serving as a trusted business partner to the executive management team.  As a seasoned industry CFO, he has worked in both private and public company environments.  Andy earned his B.S. Degree in Engineering from the University of Michigan, and an MBA in Finance from Michigan State University where he was a TA in accounting.  He continued teaching at the undergrad and graduate level during his working career.  He is a non-practicing CPA in the State of Michigan. Andy has spent his career in both privately held family-owned businesses and publicly traded multinational corporations.  He has led acquisitions, bank financing transitions, tax planning initiatives, family succession planning, and benefits strategy.  He embraces the challenges and opportunities in all of these disciplines. Andy enjoys working across functional lines bringing the finance perspective into all aspects of the business.  He has incorporated operational and finance KPIs to drive performance in a variety of diverse business units. Find out more about Andrew by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.

 

John Ashby | DWH Senior Financial Analyst

John focuses on financial reporting, cash flow modeling, budgeting, and forecasting in order to make recommendations to drive improvements. He also helps to identify key performance metrics and effectively communicates the data via clear visual presentations. Prior to joining DWH, John spent thirty-plus years in auditing, forecasting, project and product management, banking, and FP&A. He has a strong ability to identify actionable insights in business data, focusing on key drivers and indicators. John is also experienced in leading cross-functional teams and playing a key role in systems implementations. John holds a BA in Economics from Whittier College and an MBA with a specialization in Finance from the University of Notre Dame. Find out more about John by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.

 

Jonathan Coe | DWH Director

Jonathan Coe, Director, has more than 30 years of experience in finance, accounting, and management. He earned his B.A. in Accounting from Hope College and an MBA from Grand Valley State University. Jonathan’s career has spanned different value chains including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, telecommunications, and both OEM and aftermarket automotive. Throughout his career, Jonathan has specialized in FP&A, financial reporting (both US GAAP and IFRS), project accounting, and risk management.  Most recently, Jonathan was the CFO for SoundOff Signal, a mid-market private manufacturer of emergency lighting for first responders where the company more than doubled in size in his six years as CFO.  He is on the finance committee for Habitat for Humanity and has held different leadership positions at his church. He has also been involved with teaching various Junior Achievement classes. Jonathan assists our clients to optimize their organization’s financial performance via strategic planning, financial leadership development and coaching, due diligence, and profitability/cash flow improvement. Find out more about Jonathan by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.

 

Rob Heitmeier | DWH Senior Director

Rob Heitmeier has over 30 years of experience in executive leadership, financial and corporate management, strategy development, mergers and acquisitions, and business management. He has a bachelor’s degree in finance from Michigan State University and an MBA from the University of Detroit. Rob works with business owners to help them understand their businesses’ fundamental problems and helps develop and navigate a path to improved business performance. Find out more about Rob by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.

 

Brent Smith | DWH Senior Financial Analyst

With a distinguished career centered on M&A initiatives, Brent Smith stands as an expert in turn-around services, financial consulting, and commercial underwriting. His robust portfolio includes aiding companies in navigating growth through strategic acquisitions, meticulous succession planning, and optimizing operations for distressed businesses. A proud alumnus of Davenport University, Brent holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. His industry expertise spans a diverse range including manufacturing, logistics, and retail sectors. As a consultant, Brent’s proficiency particularly shines in the lower middle market segment, where he collaboratively works with businesses to amplify their operational excellence. Find out more about Brent by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.

 

 

Promoting Cultural Diversity During Native American Heritage Month

Powwow celebration with traditional Native American dance

November is Native American Heritage Month, which was created in 1990 through a presidential proclamation and has continued to be observed ever since. The month is dedicated to showcasing the immense importance of this group, as it represents the rich history, culture, and contributions of Indigenous peoples in the United States.

During the month of November, awareness is spread about Indigenous history, contemporary Native issues, and the accomplishments of Native Americans who have enriched our culture.

Why celebrate Native American Heritage?

As a tribally owned company, our team is passionate about protecting tribal sovereignty and growing economic prosperity throughout Indian Country. We want to share a few important reasons to recognize and celebrate Native American heritage:

1. Acknowledge the historical & ongoing contributions Native Americans have made to the nation.

From agriculture and medicine to language and art, Native Americans have made significant contributions to American society. Acknowledging and celebrating their heritage allows us to honor their achievements and recognize their importance in shaping our collective identity.

2. Foster cultural awareness and appreciation.

It allows individuals to gain a deeper understanding of Indigenous traditions, values, and perspectives, and this knowledge can lead to greater respect and appreciation for the diverse cultural heritage that exists within the United States.

3. Address historical injustices and promote social justice.

Throughout history, Native Americans have faced colonization, forced assimilation, and marginalization. Recognizing their heritage is a step toward healing historical wounds, promoting cultural preservation, and empowering Native American communities.

How to Celebrate Native American Heritage

Although it’s nice to have a month dedicated to celebrating and honoring Native American heritage, there are many ways you can continue acknowledging Native Americans throughout the entire year. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

Attend cultural events

Look for local events, powwows, or cultural festivals that celebrate Native American heritage. By attending these events, you will be able to experience traditional dances, music, food, and crafts.

Educate yourself

One of the best ways to celebrate Native American heritage is to educate yourself about their history, culture, and contributions. Read books, watch documentaries, or visit museums dedicated to Native American history.

Volunteer and support Native American organizations

Get involved with local Native American organizations. Offer your time and support by volunteering at community events, fundraisers, or educational programs that promote Native American heritage and empower Indigenous communities.

Support Native American businesses and artists

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, Native American-owned businesses contribute over $33 billion to the U.S. economy every year and employ over 200,000 people. We encourage you to seek out Native American-owned businesses and artists and support their work and help sustain their livelihoods.

Amplify Native American voices

Give platforms and opportunities for Native American voices to be heard. Share books, articles, art, and other resources created by Native Americans to promote their perspectives and insights.

 

We encourage you to approach Native American heritage with sensitivity and respect. We feel that engaging in cultural appreciation rather than cultural appropriation is crucial to ensure Native American traditions and identity are honored and preserved.

A Case Study in Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Culture

The Situation:

DWH partnered with the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP), a federally recognized tribe in western Michigan, to cultivate an entrepreneurial culture among its members. Recognizing the untapped potential within the community, NHBP leadership sought to empower its members with the tools, knowledge, and resources necessary to launch, acquire, or scale small businesses.

The Solution:

Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all solution, DWH deployed a nuanced, multi-phase approach tailored to the specific needs and aspirations of NHBP members:

  • Needs Assessment: We designed and circulated a comprehensive survey to gauge interest, evaluate current skill levels, and understand the entrepreneurial dreams of the community members.
  • Curriculum Design: Using the survey insights, we crafted a targeted curriculum complete with topics and training materials that addressed the unique needs of the tribe.
  • Educational Bootcamps: Quarterly full-day workshops were planned, offering structured learning experiences and opportunities for attendees to provide feedback.
  • Personalized Mentoring: For those who had successfully completed the educational sessions, in-depth mentoring opportunities were made available to provide hands-on experience and guidance.

The Outcome:

The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, disrupting our planned in-person educational boot camps. Undeterred, we swiftly transitioned to a remote learning model. Despite this pivot, we successfully conducted extensive surveys that gave NHBP an actionable roadmap to harness entrepreneurial talents and interests within their community. All remote training sessions were recorded and archived, serving as a lasting educational resource for the tribe.

 

 

Strategic Planning for Tribes

Strategic planning can be a vital process for tribal nations seeking to achieve economic self-sufficiency and long-term sustainable growth. The practice is utilized as a means to establish a clear vision for the future of an organization. It touches every stakeholder and creates alignment around shared goals — ultimately, serving as a detailed guide with actionable steps to achieve those goals.

Strategic planning is made to be realistic, providing a strong and healthy path to effective nation-building. Within Indian Country, there can be a myriad of offers and opportunities that come along — not to mention scams — with the execution of a strategic plan however, tribal leaders are better positioned to identify and manage such risks.

The makings of an effective strategic plan

Strategic planning is a process, not an event or stand-alone meeting. The process calls us to critically explore, redefine, adjust, or simply create approaches, outcomes, goals, and strategies that create pathways to an ideal vision. The creation of a strong strategic plan will accomplish the following:

  • Define the key values of the tribal organization
  • Identify the organization’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Create alignment with key stakeholders
  • Develop a vision to capitalize on the organization’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Honor the unique historical context tribal nations operate in
  • Determine the tactical goals and outcomes to support the vision
  • Set priorities by focusing energy and resources
  • Cultivate the right tools in order for the tribal entity to flourish
  • Recommend ways to strengthen the overall infrastructure: people, processes, systems, and property

Creating a conscientious plan

The impact of historical trauma can have ripple effects through various systems (governance, economy, community). This can impact diversification risk/return potential and the overall portfolio management approach for a tribal nation. Without the components of healing in the planning process, sustainability will be difficult to accomplish. Healing-informed strategic planning does not require consistent reminders of historical trauma, rather it requires mindfulness (the good, the bad, the ugly) of how historical activities have impacted the tribal nation’s well-being as it relates to economic development.

Additionally, it is good to understand the resiliency factors that have helped tribal nations endure and thrive within environments (albeit environments that weren’t created for tribal nations to survive). By focusing on unique stories and core values, tribes can find competitive advantages when it comes to economic development opportunities. A well-crafted and facilitated structure can guide participants through a common understanding of historical impacts (build contexts), connect to current realities facing tribal nations (barriers/opportunities) and build off resiliency factors (strengths/aspirations) can help create a well-rounded and sustainable strategic plan.

In conclusion

Tribal nations have always been excellent planners, evaluators, innovators, and visionaries — all the components needed to have a dynamic planning process. To help harness the vast strengths and resiliency of tribal nations, strategic planning processes should combine healing with planning. When these components are effectively mixed along with a solid facilitated structure, this can create space for the most effective and sustainable solutions. These solutions are already within the tribal nation, waiting to be cultivated; and when they surface, they’ll provide a clearer picture of where/how/when outside resources are needed to fulfill the healthy and ideal vision of the tribal nation.

 


 

How DWH can support your tribe

DWH supports tribal leadership with the development of their vision and what it will take to get there. We’ll help you clearly articulate your tribe’s goals and define the action steps needed to achieve your objectives. We believe strategy touches every stakeholder and serves as an actionable way to reach desirable outcomes. To learn more, continue reading about our strategic planning process. To have a conversation with DWH about how we can be of assistance, please reach out. As a native-owned consulting firm, DWH has extensive experience supporting tribes with their portfolio management and economic development objectives.

 


This post was written by Don Lyons
dlyons@dwhcorp.com | LinkedIn

 

Know What You Have Before Getting to What You Want

For most business owners, it is more exciting to think about “the next big idea” than to toil through fixing the current state of the business. The same applies to planning for a transition, whether a succession event or a sale of the business. We prefer to get to that “next step” once we can envision it. Yet most successful growth or transition plans are built upon first understanding improvement opportunities and blind spots.

Gaps and opportunities may exist in several areas: leadership & organization, operations, commercial and development processes, and financial information management. At DWH, we use a tried and tested Assessment protocol that is customized to client situations. Think of this as a multi-point inspection followed by iterative discussions on observed challenges, risks, and opportunities, which we contrast with best practices.

Remember to take inventory

With alignment on ‘what we have’, owners and leadership can better set expectations for their company’s future. That future could be growing the business, venturing into new markets, pursuing new business, transforming the business for the next generation, or developing individual team members.

A well-facilitated development process integrates planning between the ‘why’, the ‘how’, and the ‘what’. This should include an action plan both to address near-term gaps and to achieve mid-to-long-term objectives, as well as the resource support and experience to guide process improvements, capability development, and implementation of the plan.

 


 

To reduce risks associated with growth or transition, DWH helps clients with:

  • Understanding gaps and blind spots
  • Setting goals and objectives, including strategic planning
  • Creating alignment with key stakeholders
  • Planning for transitions of leadership, relationships, roles, and knowledge
  • Establishing meaningful controls and governance
  • Strengthening the overall business, including people, processes, and property.

If you would like to learn more about our strategic approach to growth and transitions, click here.

 

This post was written by:
Marcel van der Elst, DWH Senior Director
mvanderelst@dwhcorp.com | LinkedIn

 

A Case Study In Succession Planning

Overview:

The company was founded in the 1940s becoming one of the premiere mold-making facilities in the United States.  Eventually, they offered complete injection molding and product assembly along with other manufacturing support processes to their customer base which included the furniture industry. The company consists of two manufacturing locations within the United States and has approximately $15M in revenue.

The Situation:

  • Ownership had established a comprehensive estate plan but had not developed a succession plan.
  • The owner passed away leaving his beneficiaries without a clear path forward regarding the business interests.
  • Estate trustees were looking for a third-party recommendation on how best to maximize the enterprise value of the estate.

The Solution:

  • DWH performed a thorough assessment of the company’s leadership, financial and management information, operations, and marketing and sales to draw conclusions regarding the company’s current situation and future prospects.
  • DWH provided numerous recommendations which included a risk/benefit analysis.
  • DWH determined the best path forward was an expedited sale or a winddown and liquidation of the company.
  • DWH was hired to implement its recommendations which included facilitating an expedited sale of the company to a strategic buyer within 90 days of engagement to maximize value.

The Outcome:

  • The transaction was successfully completed within the desired timeframe.
  • All creditors were paid and the proceeds to the estate were double what would have been achieved through a liquidation.

 

Leading with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Successful leaders are undertaking initiatives to address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) within their organization to assess company culture, structures, practices, and policies – in particular, ones that create bias and an uneven playing field capable of causing damage to organizational health and performance.  The need for diverse talent in the workplace is evident with a clear correlation between DEI practices and organizational effectiveness.  Now, more than ever, it is necessary for executives to develop a shared vision, create learning environments, and embrace these initiatives – both for the sake of ethics and because this is what it will take to compete in the future.  Let’s discover more about DEI and why it is important to an organization’s health.

What is Diversity, Equity & Inclusion?   

  1. Diversity is about the presence of difference within a group. This is where differences of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender/gender identity, and religion should be considered for their presence at all levels within the organization.
  2. Equity is all about ensuring equal access to the same opportunities. This is the proverbial “equal playing field” and where barriers to opportunities or resources need to be eliminated. In order to achieve a fairer workplace, it is essential to observe unconscious bias in policies, practices, structures, and resources.
  3. Inclusion is about cultivating a culture that invites and encourages the feeling of being welcomed, valued, and incorporated into the workplace. Inclusion can be more difficult to address because the overall culture of the organization largely determines it. This means that discovering the root causes behind a lack of inclusion can be harder to pinpoint. 

3 Reasons Why Companies Should Embrace DEI 

Among the many reasons to address the issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (outside of the ethical perspective that it is the right thing to do) there are three that stand out:  

  1. “War for Talent in the Workplace”There is now, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, a war for talent in the workplaceThis has only been reinforced during the post-Covid “Great Resignation”.  DEI programs address bringing more diverse talented employees into the organization while also increasing retention as it makes it a more attractive place to contribute to and grow inA high performer is more likely to select an organization that has an aggressive DEI program and is more likely to stay because that program allows for them to make a significant difference and values their development.
  2. “Diverse Organizations Outperform Peer Organizations”There is ample evidence that more diverse organizations outperform similar, but less diverse organizations.  A recent McKinsey study found that diverse organizations outperform industry averages by 33%.  This Is because those organizations that can take advantage of diverse teams will have insights and opinions with that are more accurate and nuanced to the environment than ones from a more uniform perspective.  In addition, teams that can take advantage of diverse knowledge and experience are more innovative and creative as their diverse viewpoints help them come at problems and solutions from different perspectives.  Clearly, organizations that serve ever wider and more diverse consumers will be less likely to understand their customers’ needs and perspectives if those same demographics are not present in the organization serving them.
  3. Outside ExpectationsThere is mounting pressure for reporting diversity numbers and DEI programs with mandatory Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) reporting for the SEC.  In addition, activist investors are also demanding that organizations make significant progress in addressing inequity and lack of diversity in their investments.  There is also evidence that consumers are increasingly making buying decisions based on issues such as commitment to sustainability and equity. 

What should DEI efforts consist of?   

Diversity is perhaps the easiest concept to understand and measure as it can be accomplished by surveying the organization. Race and gender are typically easier to measure, whereas traits like identity can be more difficult, requiring a more nuanced approach with involvement from the broader organization (most importantly by those who are in those categories). Typically, initiatives include at least some of the following: 

  • Key Metrics – Identification of where they are on key metrics such as employee diversity, retention, representation in key leadership positions, and defining what they intend to achieve by instituting a program. 
  • Training – Global training on unconscious bias and its impacts on relationships, participation, and performance serves as a baseline for further efforts. 
  • Policies and Procedures – An assessment of policies and practices in the organization which might provide barriers for recruiting and retention, inclusion, and creating an unequal playing field should be conducted and addressed. 
  • Mentorship and Sponsorship – Another key element is the creation of mentorship programs that attend to the particular barriers that diverse employees face, including a special emphasis on diversity in high-potential programs. Sponsorship Is advocacy for Individuals to be Included In opportunities to gain experience and visibility. 
  • C-Suite Positions – A focus on ensuring a presence of diversity in the C-Suite and Board of a company is necessary from the start to show commitment and provide advocacy for the program.

Culture is Key 

A genuinely successful DEI program not only hinges on the design of the initiatives but on the culture that it is embedded in. Cultures emphasizing learning and growth far outpace organizations emphasizing authority, control, rules and tradition.  Leaders need to develop a shared vision to be a “learning organization” that provides the space to understand and accept the realities of the current state, then commit to finding avenues to change toward that vision.  The CEO and executive team have the most influence over changing aspects of the organizational culture. Truly, the executive leader must commit to exemplifying the change that is desired for the organization. Changing the culture is a long-term effort that demands that the Board support it and the leadership team must be willing to both embody the change and provide the Initiative to enact It. 

In Conclusion 

It is the primary duty of the leadership of any organization to create an overall safe, welcoming workplace environment for those of all races, creeds, identities, and ethnicities where everyone’s contribution is appreciated and promoted.  To do this the CEO and senior leadership will need to take that intention and do the hard work of actualizing this by uncovering implicit bias in practices, structures, and allocation of resources and create the platform for all to provide their contribution.  Forward-thinking leadership is now taking up this challenge and leading the charge. 

 


This post was written by Jeff Wyatt
jwyatt@dwhcorp.com | LinkedIn

All companies experience change.
Plan for it with us.

Meet Our Newest Team Members

Don Lyons | DWH Director

Don has over 15 years of experience in project management, executive coaching, organizational development, strategic planning, business development, research and evaluation, and facilitation. He has worked both domestically and internationally with governmental departments, private entities, and tribal nations. As an enrolled citizen of Leech Lake Band of Ojibway and a descendent of Six Nations Mohawk, he is passionate about working on projects that support strong and healthy Indigenous Nation Building. In a consulting role, Don is helping DWH grow its engagement strategy as it relates to economic development for tribal nations. In addition to obtaining his BA and MSW from Michigan State University, Don is also a master of ceremonies for pow wows across the country, an active pow wow dancer, and a student of learning Anishinaabemowin, the indigenous language of the Ojibway. He is also actively working with American Indian Health & Family Services as a Board Member. Find out more about Don by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.

 

Ryan Lapoe | DWH Financial Analyst

Ryan has spent much of his professional career in different aspects of Finance. This includes practices in wealth management, performing revenue cycle operations, and now working as a Financial Analyst at DWH. His background in financial modeling and data analysis helps him create understandable, actionable recommendations for business owners. He focuses on cash flow modeling and financial forecasts to guide these discussions. Ryan holds a B.A. in Finance from Michigan State University. During his time there, he acquired knowledge of GAAP, as well as financial acumen and best practices. While initially residing in Michigan, Ryan and his wife, Shannon, lived in Atlanta, Georgia for about 2 years where they enjoyed the warm weather and the extended golf seasons. They are now proud to call West Michigan their home once again. Find out more about Ryan by visiting his LinkedIn profile and the DWH website.