Big Cheese: Suprema Hires CFO

Company's previous finance chief left after accounting flap. Also: racketrack operator hires former E&Y auditor to go over the charts. Plus: Heidri...
Jennifer CaplanJanuary 11, 2002
  • Suprema Specialties Inc., a maker of Italian cheeses, has hired a new CFO. Thomas Reed is to fill the position vacated by Steven Venechanos, who resigned in December. As reported earlier, Venechanos left Surprema shortly after the company announced that that it had hired an auditor to conduct a review of previous financial statements. Prior to joining Suprema, Reed in public practice working with several companies food and dairy companies. He holds a B.A. in accounting from Portland State University.

Last month, managers at the Paterson, New Jersey-based company said that first-quarter sales increased to $143 million, up from $89 million a year-earlier. They also maintained that earnings for the period rose nearly 80 percent. In late December, NASDAQ halted trading in the company’s stock until Suprema had fully satisfied the exchange’s request for additional information. The stock last traded at $13 per share

  • John Bittner is the new finance chief at thoroughbred racetrack and gaming operator MTR Gaming Group Inc. Bittner replaces Mary Jo Needham, who has resigned from the Chester, West Va.-based company.

    Prior to joining MTR, Bittner was a partner at Ernst & Young LLP out of the firm’s Pittsburgh office. While there, he provided accounting, auditing, and business advisory services to publicly held, privately owned and not-for-profit organizations. Bittner received a B.S. in accounting from Duquesne University.

    MTR’s racetrack and resort facility in Chester includes Mountaineer Race Track, 2,500 slot machines, a 101-room hotel, golf course, spa & fitness center, and a convention center. The company also operates the Ramada Inn and Speedway Casino in North Las Vegas, and the Ramada Inn in Reno. The publicly traded company reported a 24 percent increase in revenues in Q4 from the same time period the previous year. All told, the company recorded $61.5 million in turnover. Net income also went up: the $6.8 million in profits was a 36 percent increase from earnings in the fourth quarter of 2000.

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    “Although the events of September 11th affected our operations, the impact has been limited in comparison to gaming destinations,” said Edson Arneault, company president and CEO. The share price of MTR has been trading in a range from $4.37 and $17.16 during the past 52 weeks. The stock was trading at $16.54 per share on Thursday afternoon.

  • Executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles International Inc. has been doing some searching of its own. Company managers have been looking for a chief financial officer since October, when former CFO Donald Kilinski announced he was leaving the placement specialist.

    Yesterday, the search ended. Kevin Smith was hired to head up the company’s finance department. Smith joins the Chicago-based firm from True North Communications Inc., an advertising and marketing services company, where he was also CFO. While at True North, Smith helped restructure under-performing business units and improved operating margins. Prior to that, Smith spent six years at Alexander & Alexander Services Inc., an insurance brokerage firm. He also held the CFO post at Beatrice International Food Company.

    Smith earned an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.B.A. from Pace University in New York. “Kevin’s experience in both finance and operations, combined with his record with international publicly held companies, including service businesses, made him a particularly strong choice for CFO,” said Piers Marmion, company CEO in a statement.

    The timing of Smith’s appointment was not great. It came only a day before the company announced that revenues for the fourth quarter would come in lower than expected. The executive search firm has been hit hard by a broad cutback in corporate hiring. Managers now expect to post fourth quarter revenue between $85 and $88 million, down from more optimistic estimates in November of $95 to $105 million. In October the company announced plans to cut 335 jobs, or 16 percent of its work force, in addition to a job reduction announced earlier in the year. The company’s share price fell more than 7 percent and was trading down at $17.02 Thursday afternoon on the New York Stock Exchange. Company managers said they do not expect much improvement in 2002.