CFO, Performance Engineered Products Inc.
Ann Campbell, 53, is CFO of Performance Engineered Products Inc. (PEP) in Ponoma, Calif. She studied economics at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and is a certified public accountant and certified internal auditor (CIA), scoring in the top 5 percent nationally on the CIA exam in 1997.
Campbell worked in various fields, including medical and distribution, before deciding to round out her resume with a position in manufacturing. She took a job at PEP, a custom injection molder, in 2008. Although her career change coincided with The Great Recession, Campbell said, “Ironically, 2008 and '09 were some of our best years. We had a really successful consumer product line for one of our customers. It was priced right and manufactured right. They were extremely happy with us and they sold millions. That one customer with that one product saved us.”
In addition to financial duties, Campbell handles human resources and is proud PEP continued matching 401(k) contributions during the tough times and offers medical insurance even though it isn't required. She also encourages employees to take advantage of optional life insurance coverage. Her husband died when she was 38 and their sons were young.
“When we hire new people, I can't let it sit,” she said. “I say if you've got little kids, you've got to know what risks you're taking.”
Her sons are now 18 and 22 and Campbell is the proud mother of recent high school and college graduates.
Q: What was your greatest achievement?
Campbell: I'd say successfully steering the company through the 2009 downturn, deaths of the CEO and majority shareholder, then the subsequent buyout of silent partners by the widow of the majority shareholder. The company is now 100 percent woman-owned and both the plant manager and CFO are women.
Q: What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Campbell: It wasn't necessarily my “failure,” but when my husband passed away and our sons were 3 and 8, I struggled with being an instant single parent and working to provide for my family. Fortunately, we were somewhat prepared financially and legally. However, I learned that one can never be too prepared for catastrophes like this, particularly with young children at home. I make a serious effort to be sure all our employees understand the importance of our benefits offered, including life insurance, health insurance and 401(k) plans. I also use my personal experience of combating cancer to illustrate how one's life can change instantly.
Q: What emerging technology or market most interests you?
Campbell: I like the made-in-the-USA manufacturing revival. Our company has been in Pomona, Calif., since 1979. We have seen work go to Mexico and China/Asia, but now some companies wish to bring work back to production in the USA. One of the reasons why is counterfeiting. That's always been a big deal and that's one of our selling points. We're not only made in the USA but we're not going to steal your product and out it on eBay or Amazon.
Q: What about the plastics industry surprises you?
Campbell: How difficult it is for inventors/entrepreneurs to get something made and sold.
Q: What is the best advice you have ever received?
Campbell: Hire the best people to work for you and hope they are smarter than you!
Q: What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the plastics industry?
Campbell: Start at the machine operator level and work up as your education and experience permit. Knowledge of the part-making process in invaluable.
Q: What associations you belong to or actively participate in?
Campbell: I belong to some certified public accountant associations and the Wharton Alumni Club of Southern California.
Q: Who is your mentor, or someone you look up to?
Campbell: Porter Stansberry of Stansberry Research and related companies.
Q: What job do you really want to have in the future?
Campbell: I want to own a successful company.
Q: What do you do to relax?
Campbell: I spend time with family, read and exercise.