LogicSource’s Niki Heim on Cutting Costs, Not People, to Fuel Growth and Investment
CFO of the leading tech-enabled procurement-as-a-service provider shares how to drive growth by saving money, investing in people and fostering an entrepreneurial culture
LogicSource is the leading provider of procurement services and technology, helping some of the world’s largest brands optimize their spending on indirect expenditures. These are the goods and services required by organizations to operate day-to-day, covering marketing, IT, facilities, corporate services, packaging and logistics, which typically equate to as much as 20% of an organization’s annual revenue.
FTV invested $180 million in LogicSource in March 2022, just as companies worldwide were facing runaway inflation, increasing margin pressure and disruptive supply-chain issues. We saw how LogicSource’s procurement-as-a-service offering could help companies become more competitive in even the toughest business environments.
FTV talked with Niki Heim, chief financial officer and chief administrative officer of LogicSource, about her experience managing hypergrowth at LogicSource and tips for other business leaders on achieving breakout growth. Dive in to hear her advice to business leaders on choosing investors, growing your own way, controlling costs and fostering an entrepreneurial culture among employees.
You joined LogicSource in 2014, five years after it was founded, and became CFO in early 2020. Today, LogicSource customers include brands like lululemon, Titleist, Tractor Supply, and Rite Aid. What early decisions did the LogicSource team make to drive such robust growth?
One of the most important decisions we made was to partner with investors aligned with our vision for the company. Early on, we were funded by a private equity firm that had strong views about how we should be run. But those ideas conflicted with how our executive team, led by CEO David Pennino, wanted to grow.
After I became CFO in 2020, we brought in a new lead investor, Pegasus Capital Advisors, which allowed the team to regain decision-making. We immediately diversified into sectors outside of retail, including healthcare, financial services, consumer packaged goods and publishing. We also went all-in on our proprietary OneMarket software and started selling it as a standalone offering.
We decided to build our own platform based on the direct feedback and learnings from our teams, clients, and suppliers; built by practitioners, for practitioners. Having Pegasus, and now FTV Capital, as investors has been critical to our success. We really appreciate that FTV is a founder-friendly firm that believes in our vision and encourages us to try new things.
LogicSource has grown incredibly fast yet maintains a cohesive company culture. What should leaders do to foster such a culture and why is that important for growth?
LogicSource is a company with a truly great entrepreneurial spirit. Everyone has a passion for building a great company, and we give people a lot of freedom to run with their ideas and take ownership in their roles. When I came on board, I did a complete overhaul of accounting and financial reporting, and it was amazing how my colleagues just trusted me to run with it.
More times than not, when an employee raises his or her hand with a compelling idea, we tell them, “Go figure it out, test it, and let us know if it worked!” I highly suggest this approach for any company that wants to not just grow, but also to innovate. Being surrounded by people who push and challenge one another to be better every day is inspiring, and creates a proactive and inclusive work environment.
As a CFO, what advice would you give to company leaders on how to navigate the challenges of today’s market? What should every company be doing now to ensure financial rigor?
I have two pieces of advice. First, whether it’s a CFO or a delegate, finance needs a seat at the table. Finance should always be in the loop upfront and position the function as a strategic resource, responsible for managing the company’s investments and overall utilization and performance. Second, every company must know what they’re buying, who they are buying it from, what they’re paying for it and what contracts are in place and when they are due for renewal.
Based on data and learnings from hundreds of client engagements, only about a quarter of company spend goes through a procure-to-pay platform, so the other three-quarters is largely unaccounted for. To get your financial house in order, start by figuring out where every penny goes. You’d be surprised at how much money just flies out the door on products and services that are duplicative, extraneous or overpriced. By cutting costs on things like IT and facilities, companies can invest more into their greatest asset – their people.
What is one of the biggest challenges LogicSource has faced on its growth journey, and as a CFO, what role have you played in helping overcome this challenge?
As CFO, one of the biggest challenges is always resource forecasting and utilization. Since we offer professional services to execute on behalf of our clients, our people are our business. In the past year alone, we added over 165 new employees and now have over 315 total staff. As a CFO and a key member of our leadership team, I need to know how and where our people spend their time, so I can help them optimize their productivity and put them in a position to succeed.
I would advise any fast-growing company to look closely at how their employees spend time and where there are utilization issues. Growth happens when the workforce has the capacity to take action, is motivated by challenges and is engaged in the execution.
What’s next for LogicSource? Where do you see the company in one year and in five years?
We believe we have the right business model, especially in this economic environment. The core of what we do is optimize indirect spend and create real cash and P&L savings. We haven’t met a company yet that isn’t trying to become more profitable. The world has learned the last few years about the importance of cost reductions and process efficiencies across today’s disruptive and unpredictable supply chains – which really helps drive home our business model.
In one year and over the next five years, LogicSource will do more of what we’re aleady doing today: helping our customers find cost savings and drive efficiencies. But, we will do more of everything: more sales, more marketing and expansion into more vertical markets. For example, we see an opportunity in the healthcare space where there is a clear mismatch between revenue and cost inflation; in 2022, hospital costs increased about 10% while revenues increased about half of that. We can help healthcare companies rein in costs for non-clinical goods and services like marketing, IT and facilities, enabling them to reinvest into better patient care and outcomes.
Our business model rests on helping any company become more profitable by spending less on commodity products. That will never go out of style.
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