ABC Financial Makes Multiple Management Moves

ABC Financial Vice Chairman Paul Schaller (left) and ABC CEO and President Bill Davis addressed ABC employees at a town hall meeting on July 17 to announce the management additions and changes the company has undergone in the past two months. The leadership team sat behind Schaller and Davis. (Photo courtesy ABC Financial.)

ABC Financial, Sherwood, Arkansas, has elevated Paul Schaller from CEO to vice chairman of the board and named current President Bill Davis as CEO along with adding six new people to its management team, the provider of technology and related financial services company announced on July 18.

Of the six new management team members, four are in newly created or previously unfilled roles, according to Davis.

Schaller has been with ABC Financial for 27 years, rising from a sales role to president and then CEO prior to being named vice chairman, a role he will serve in with Paul Zuber, operating partner at Thoma Bravo and chairman of the board. Thoma Bravo purchased ABC Financial in late 2017.  

Schaller will remain actively involved in the business, Davis told Club Industry in a phone interview.

“He’s revered in the marketplace as being one of the most thoughtful and influential leaders in the health and fitness industry,” Davis said of Schaller. “Through that, he has a tremendous network of relationships that gives us a unique insight to the developments and goings-on of the industry that we serve.”

The company plans to continue to leverage those relationships and insights to ensure it offers the level of client experience for which Davis said the company is known.

“We talk about this notion of promoting and retaining raving fans as our customers,” Davis said. “It’s something Paul is passionate about. It’s something that I committed to him not only that I would continue to promote but also to enhance. So he, through his relationships, really serves to be a barometer of sorts to make sure that we in fact deliver on that commitment.”

Schaller also will mentor Davis, who was hired as president in February 2017 and will retain that title with the CEO title. Davis was previously chief financial officer for Paycor Inc., a human capital management company.

Stepping into Schaller’s role is daunting, Davis said, and he only agreed to do it if Schaller maintained a role at the company, including the mentorship role to Davis.

“I am very cautious about wanting to do everything I can to ensure that what Paul has built and the way in which he has positioned ABC for success, that we take that, we honor that, we recognize it and we build on it,” Davis said. “The shared view that Paul and I have is that everything starts and finishes with our customers, and that is central to our decision-making.”

To do so, Davis will rely on the new management team, most of which he and Schaller put together since Davis’ arrival.

The official introduction of that team was made in a town hall meeting on July 17 at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas. Four hundred employees attended the announcement and another 400 watched on livestream, Davis said.

The addition of six senior management positions and their attendant salaries is possible due to an investment made by Thoma Bravo when it purchased ABC Financial in late 2017, Davis said.

“Thoma Bravo is an incredible partner to ABC and, dare I say, one of the very best private equity firms that focuses exclusively on technology companies,” he said, noting that Thoma Bravo sees the growth opportunity for ABC. “As a consequence, we thoughtfully discussed the investment that would be required not only in people but in the technologies and the related service capabilities as well. So this is with full support of Thoma Bravo and indicative in the investment that they were committed to make when they underwrote the investment some 18 months ago. Naturally, all of us expect it will pay attractive dividends for us, but more importantly, it will produce a much more enhanced experience and offering for our customers, and it’s in full support of what we believe to be just an unbelievably attractive market opportunity.”

Thoma Bravo has invested in ABC Financial in other ways, too, including in the technology platform itself.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in our R&D spend, and then in the infrastructure, the technology, the tools, the processes that the organization is availing itself to effectively drive the business forward,” Davis said. “That’s everything from our ERP system, which was recently upgraded, to the benefits we are affording our employees, to the expansion of our physical presence.”

ABC Financial recently opened a new location in Frisco, Texas, to expand its ability to attract new and skilled capabilities or resources, he said.

“This is all grounded in a fundamental belief that we share in that the market opportunity is substantial enough that these levels of investments are going to allow ABC to meet the demands of the marketplace and grow in a meaningful way as a result of that,” Davis said.  

The additions to ABC Financial management are as follows:

  • Khal Rai has been named as chief operating officer. He was previously president and CEO of SRS Health, a SaaS company in the healthcare industry.
  • Ryon Packer joined the company as the chief product officer, a position he fills after serving as senior vice president of product management for FISERV, a financial services company.
  • Ashok Pinto was hired as the chief technology officer. He most recently worked as the CTO at cxLoyalty, a customer engagement company.
  • Cristine Kao is the chief marketing officer, coming to the company from her role as vice president of global marketing for ACTIVE Network, a portfolio company of Global Payments Inc.
  • Kyle Garner was hired in January was the chief sales officer. He previously had worked as vice president of graphic communication division of Xerox.
  • Rachana Jain, who has more than 20 years of human resources experience, joined ABC as its chief people officer.

These individuals are joining four existing executives: Mike Escobedo, chief customer officer; Jill Dozier, chief services officer; Kelly Card, chief engagement officer; and Lee Washington, chief information officer. 

The management team will be located in multiple offices, not just in the Little Rock suburb of Sherwood. Some of the team will be in the new Frisco office, while the COO is in New Jersey and Davis will remain in Cincinnati as his child finishes high school there, he said.

Despite the variety of locations for the management team, Davis said that the company is committed to Sherwood and its employees there.

With these changes comes the opportunity to grow the customer base both domestically and internationally, Davis said. About 90 percent of the company’s customers are in the United States with international customers in Canada and countries from Mexico down to Brazil, Davis said.

In the near-term, ABC Financial will spend time not only communicating the changes it’s undergoing but also completing a new core billing and collection capabilities platform that is planned for a beta release in the fourth quarter and a general release in early 2020, Davis said.