On April 30, Miami-based wireless distribution company Tekmovil named Juan Carlos Barreto its first CFO, after he'd spent six months serving in the position on an interim basis.
"Tekmovil has grown exponentially in the two years since our founding, including the recent and significant capital expansion from Grupo Financiero Inbursa that Juan Carlos helped secure," co-founder and CEO Oscar Rojas said in the release announcing Barreto’s hire. "His financial leadership has already positioned Tekmovil for continued success and sustainable growth."
Barreto brings over 25 years of financial management experience in the IT and wireless telecommunications industries. He arrived from telecom giant Phoenix Tower International, where he'd spent three years as CFO. During his time as interim CFO for Tekmovil, he helped secure a significant capital expansion from Mexican bank Grupo Financiero Inbursa.
"Becoming CFO during the pandemic has been a very rare situation, because we haven't had any face-to-face interaction," Barreto told CFO Dive in an interview Thursday. "I just use Zoom for my calls with our finance teams."
Tekmovil, which serves several Latin American companies, as well as South America, is expanding into the United States and Canadian ecommerce markets next month. To continue that growth trajectory, Barreto and his team have assembled a "war room," where they host an hour-long call every day to discuss market conditions, current projects, and government actions in each of the countries in which they operate.
"One of my priorities is keeping capital and cash," Barreto said. "We're a bit slow on sales. Some of the inventory we bought is not necessarily entering into the market right now. Stores are closing. We need to keep capital and reserve cash and funding for what I call the fixed expenses: our people."
Tekmovil, which is only two years old, has kept all of its employees on board, which Barreto says they aren't planning on changing.
Alongside the all-hands meeting, Barreto meets with his finance team every day as well. "We are in the middle of a 2018 audit, so we need to finalize that," he explained. "But additionally, growth in this company is exponential. Our sales in the first quarter were half of our total 2019 sales. We expect the second quarter to be a huge hit, but there's a big expectation of recovery. We expect to achieve our full-year budget."
Barreto joined Tekmovil on an interim basis in September to help Rojas form a strong finance team and "increase the possibilities of finance for the company." The company was just one year old at the time, Barreto said, and it needed to improve a lot of things. Once it was clear the company was on a long-term growth trajectory, Barreto agreed to come along full-time.
"One of the things I like a lot is that Tekmovil is opening in new markets right now," he said. "In the month of June, it’s opening in Canada and the U.S. through ecommerce. That’s a strategic shift, and we’ve continued hiring, because the growth demands it."
While many companies downsize to stay afloat, Barreto ticks off the ways Tekmovil is expanding.
"We needed a treasury manager. We hired her a month ago. We needed a finance director in Mexico; we hired him less than a month ago. We needed a resource for the South American region, in Colombia, and that person came on board a week ago," he said. "We've continued hiring, because we need to have finance controls to manage our growth. I’m talking with the CEO about how we need to hire in the U.S. now, and that will happen sometime in the third quarter."
Barreto recommends all CFOs check cash flow constantly. "You need to keep it positive in order to preserve the company’s costs," he said. "And seek out other avenues besides the core business that may get you more cash and revenues. Those can give you the breathing room until this wave passes."