Numbers run in John Shay's family.
He said his father was his initial influence in what he wanted to do with his own life.
"My dad was an accountant, and I was good at numbers, so it seemed to be a logical career progression for me," Shay said. "I thought, 'This sounds like something I could use and enjoy.' The kind of work that he did was cost accounting, where he would actually get in to see how some things were made, the manufacturing process, and I thought that sounds like — there's a little bit of engineering in there, too — that would be kind of fun. I got into the [university] program and enjoyed it, so I stayed with it."
Shay, 55, graduated from the University of Dayton with his bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration.
Today, Shay is the current vice president of finance and chief financial officer of Tom Smith Industries Inc., where he has worked for more than 30 years.
He started at TSI as the general accounting manager, "taking care of profit and loss statements." The company's original owner, Tom Smith Sr., passed away in 2006. After some restructuring and Smith's wife, Annette, took over ownership and management of the company, Shay became vice president in early 2007.
"Tom [Smith Sr.] was the kind of guy who was very down to earth, and he had a good sense of self and said, 'What kind of an idiot buys a company at the height of the worst recession since the Great Depression?'" Shay said about TSI, which Smith bought in 1980 and started operations in 1981.
"And he said, 'Who in their right mind would borrow money at those kinds of rates?' But he did, and so they started by buying a company that had pretty much gone out of business and were able to use some of the contacts from the business," he added.
Tom Smith Jr. had a heart attack and died in 2014. His three children — Tara, Tyler and Tom Smith III — as well as Tara's husband and brother-in-law, are all involved in the business.
Based in Englewood, Ohio, the third-generation-operated custom injection molder has around 140 employees and annual sales of around $24 million.