GROWING UP THE SON of a U.S. Marine, Jason Cherry’s leadership training began at a very young age. He and his brothers were held to high standards while learning the importance of honesty, integrity and accountability.
The lessons Cherry learned as a child have molded him into the business leader he has become.
“Leadership to me means being willing to fight for what is right, advocate for your team, be willing to make the hard decision even when it isn’t popular, and ultimately be an effective communicator so everyone is clear on both the ‘what’ and the ‘why,’ ” said Cherry, chief financial officer at information technology consulting, management and cloud services provider Carousel Industries of North America Inc. in Exeter.
Heading Carousel’s financial operations and security since 2018, Cherry puts his professional experience and commitment to excellence to use every day to guide the company in an often-challenging economic environment.
After 20 years working between General Electric Co. and Nielsen Holdings PLC, Cherry saw opportunity in joining Carousel.
“It is smaller, privately held, and in an industry that I didn’t have any direct experience,” Cherry said. “But what I did have was a strong financial management, accounting, process improvement and business process improvement background. I was able to put that to work immediately at Carousel.”
‘Leadership to me means being willing to fight for what is right, advocate for your team.’
Jason Cherry, Carousel Industries of North America Inc. chief financial officer
In the past year, Cherry led the company through several critical projects, all aimed at growing and strengthening Carousel financially.
First, Cherry said, was improving capital efficiency, in which he identified several opportunities to address, including the management of credit lines and accounts receivable, as well as looking at how and when suppliers were paid.
“We’ve had tremendous success here and I am really impressed with the team that responded to the challenge,” Cherry said. “In our first year, we reduced our past-due balances by over 50%, increased our cash flow from operating activities by $28 million and increased liquidity by three times, allowing us to de-lever the balance sheet.”
Cherry has also worked diligently on Carousel’s business operations and systems. He said that although Carousel already implemented best-in-class systems to manage customer relationship management and services, the area of enterprise resource planning stalled.
“My team was unanimous that our current path was not going to deliver the [return on investment] we expected, so I killed it,” Cherry said. “We went on a long pause, worked process improvements within our current environment, better aligned teams, introduced lean principles.”
In the fourth quarter of 2019, Carousel launched its new enterprise resource-planning efforts to drive control, consistency, productivity and speed into the business. The efforts will deliver new efficiencies and capabilities to more effectively run the company’s business.
“Jason has so many strengths, ranging from his passion to succeed, a boundless energy, a high degree of intellectual curiosity that goes far beyond the finance function, and an innate ability to focus on business drivers that support and dovetail with our value proposition,” Carousel co-founder and CEO Jeff Gardner said. “He is a quick study, a strong and active listener, and one who has great empathy for all he works with.
“After speaking with many of Jason’s direct [colleagues], they all share similar thoughts on how he has helped them to better achieve success in their roles.”
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Carousel’s business from how and where the company’s employees work to customer buying decisions being deferred, in-process project work being delayed and customers looking to conserve cash.
Cherry said Carousel understands the situation everyone is facing and is actively working with customers to help arrange financing or to reschedule work.
“Our ability to help them quickly deploy remote work solutions has seen an increase, as we responded quickly to help our customers embrace remote work models at the same speed as changing coronavirus guidelines,” Cherry said. “Internally, we are ensuring that our cash lines are sufficient, and our working capital generation is strong so we can continue to maintain business continuity for our customers.”