Our guest today is Matt Clark, President and Chief Operating Officer for Corcentric. Matt is responsible for setting and steering Corcentricâ€™s strategic vision along with its mission of empowering businesses to do more. His leadership has led to a substantial increase in employees, revenue, and the companyâ€™s growing presence in the B2B FinTech space.
Since the beginning of 2018, Matt has guided the company through three acquisitions that position Corcentric as a global leader in Source-to-Pay and Order-to-Cash solutions.
Matt is an adviser and guest lecturer for the University of Marylandâ€™s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, and is an active member of Vistage Chief Executive Group, which provides peer-to-peer mentoring for DC area business leaders. He earned his bachelorâ€™s degree from the University of Maryland.
In This Conversation, We Discuss:
- How the family dynamic affects and influences the business culture
- What it was like merging a legacy business into a tech business and the roadmap to integrate the two businesses
- What Matt learned as a leader being a member of Vistage
- What Matt focuses on today for his own growth
Connect with Matt Clark:Â LinkedIn
Corcentric â€“Â https://www.corcentric.com
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The postÂ Ep. 158 â€“ Corcentric President & COO, Matt ClarkÂ appeared first onÂ COO Alliance.
Our guest is Matt Clark, the President and Chief Operating Officer for Corcentric. He is responsible for setting and steering Corcentricâ€™s strategic vision along with its mission of empowering businesses to do more. His leadership has led to a substantial increase in its employeesâ€™ revenue and the companyâ€™s growing presence in the B2B FinTech space. Since the beginning of 2018, Matt has guided the company through three acquisitions that position Corcentric as a global leader in Source-To-Pay and Order-To-Cash solutions.
Matt is an advisor and guest lecturer for the University of Marylandâ€™s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program and is an active member of the Vistage Chief Executive Group, which provides peer-to-peer mentoring for the DC area business leaders. He earned his Bachelorâ€™s degree from the University of Maryland.
Matt, welcome to the show.
Thanks for having me on, Cameron.
Iâ€™m looking forward to learning a little bit about you, Corcentric and some of your growth. It said that youâ€™d been leading for three years, but youâ€™d been with the company for eighteen years.
I joined the company in April 2004. Thatâ€™s eighteen years in 2022.
Thereâ€™s a bit of a backstory. Itâ€™s a family-run company as well. Your dad started the business, but youâ€™re president and COO now. Iâ€™m sure thatâ€™s been an easy journey.
Itâ€™s been a lot of fun. Itâ€™s an interesting dynamic. He started a business called AmeriQuest Business Services, which ultimately, long story short, ended up acquiring a technology company called Corcentric. I came on in 2004 to grow the technology company Corcentric. While in parallel, my dad continued to grow the AmeriQuest Business Services business. A couple of years ago, we brought the two businesses together under the Corcentric brand. Itâ€™s been like that pretty much since then.
I grew up in a family enterprise. As my dad also grew up in another family enterprise separate, it was interesting to watch my brother take over my dadâ€™s company. Whatâ€™s it like being the second command? Is your dad still actively involved or is he possibly involved in a business where he is at?
Heâ€™s still pretty active. He probably operates in what I would describe as a part CEO, part chairman capacity and focuses on big picture things, capital strategy and things of that nature. Heâ€™s a numbers guy. He love to go deep on the numbers and it allows me to operate the business on a day-to-day basis. Weâ€™ve got a good mix going out. Itâ€™s taken a lot of practice and trying to figure out the right mix, but I think weâ€™re at a good place.
My brother used to say that my dad was part strategy, part chairman, and part pain in the ass. My dad was in charge of the spending.
That must be a pretty consistent team.
One of the core roles of the COO is to work in tandem, almost in that yin and yang relationship with the CEO. You and your dad have that built-in trust factor because youâ€™re blood and family. That works for you and against you. How do you navigate the family dynamics so that you can stay in business? What do you think has worked for you that maybe others can learn from? Have you done anything that may be because of your family, you were able to navigate some of the tougher parts of running a business with someone?
I think about this a lot. I think about how different it would be if I were the president COO for a CEO that wasnâ€™t my father and how that can manifest itself differently. What works well and what leads to a healthy relationship is Iâ€™m probably willing to be very direct because of that family relationship, call a spade a spade and speak my mind. I donâ€™t know one way or the other. I donâ€™t know if that would be the case if I were a non-family member, not my dad being the CEO, if I could be as direct. The ability to be direct gets through a lot of the stuff that creates a lot of noise and slows things down in a different type of working relationship.
The ability to be direct gets through a lot of the stuff that probably creates a lot of noise and slows things down in a different type of working relationship.
Does it work against you in any way? Does being family prevent you from having any of the tougher discussions as well or no?
Yes. There are some things that probably took longer to get to. The family dynamic cause that. The other thing that creates a challenge is whenever youâ€™re dealing with family. You’re always going to be more emotional than werenâ€™t dealing with family. Certainly, Iâ€™ve had to learn over the years to take a breath, slow down, listen, and not jump to exactly what my point of view is, and try hard to understand the other side of the equation and be a patient listener.
You donâ€™t bring up in the board meetings that he didnâ€™t get you that Lego set when you were five. Tell us about Corcentric. What do you guys do?
We put ourselves right in the middle of the B2B space. We have technology services and a willingness and ability to get in the payment flow that helps companies, mostly in the mid-market to enterprise, optimize what theyâ€™re doing in the areas of procurement accounts payable and accounts receivable. We feel strongly that that combination of the technology, the advisory services we can bring to bear and our willingness and ability to get in the financial flow is the best path for companies to improve working capital, cashflow, and reduce expenses.
We partner with our customers, whether itâ€™s a buy-side entity in B2B and helping them from a procurement and payables perspective or a sell-side situation where weâ€™re helping a company from a supplier. From a receivables perspective, we optimize what theyâ€™re doing and improve how they purchase, pay and get paid essentially.
What was your background coming into the business?
I was aspiring to do something similar to what youâ€™re doing. I studied Broadcast Journalism in college and thought I was going to be a big TV star. I found out pretty early on, even in my college career, that the path to making money in that world is a long and winding one. I pivoted out of college. I joined a startup in the Washington DC area that was in records management, software, RFID, tagging of files and things of that nature. That was a startup endeavor.
I was doing everything. I was selling, project managing, working on the delivery side, working with the developers and product managing. I got a flavor for everything. All things running a technology business, Iâ€™ll be at a small scale. When the business that my dad founded, AmeriQuest, acquired Corcentric, it was a natural fit that company was located in the DC area. There were some analogies to where they were in their lifecycle and what they did as a product offering. I got a chance to take a look at it and thought this could be fun.
Were there some similarities between what you were doing in that first role and then coming into Corecentric in the early days, or was it completely different?
There are a lot of similarities in that. It was the same situation. I had to serve the food and wash the dishes. I had to do a little bit of every role. When I got into the Corcentric post-AmeriQuest acquisition, we took it down to 2 or 3 people that were contributing. This was coming out of the whole dot-com bust there, and you figured there was a lot of waste and fluff in that company. We skinny it down and rebuilt it from the ground up. I always laugh. I remember and talk to our head of marketing Kate Freer about these days when we sat in conference rooms for days at a time, wrote the original copy for the website and all that fun stuff that you have to do when youâ€™re bootstrapping it.
A huge skill for somebody to get into operations is to be in that early-stage company where youâ€™re the Jack of All Trades master of none. Youâ€™re doing it, figuring it all out, prioritizing, project managing and time management. There are many skills that you learn from having all that stuff thrown at you.
Down the road, it gives you a lot more credibility. Even as you scale the business when you can talk to somebody and be like, â€œMaybe that pain exists at a larger scale now, but I feel your pain. I understand what the challenges are and what youâ€™re dealing with.â€ Iâ€™m not just coming at it from a flyover perspective. I was in the trenches. I had the sleeves rolled up. I know what it was like to operate certain elements of the business at certain times in our evolution. Itâ€™s super helpful from a credibility perspective as well.
Whatâ€™s the fleet and truck side of the business? Thereâ€™s something that you guys are doing on that side of the space. The reason I ask is I used to coach a company called Bluegrace Logistics. I coached them from about 40 people up to 700. Are you guys in the logistics space at all?
Our heritage, the business that my dad founded, AmeriQuest, was a group purchasing organization. My dad grew up in the fleet space and had his own leasing company. He had a lot of experience in that arena and realized that those companies in that space, the medium and smaller size companies, had three major disadvantages. They didnâ€™t have the same purchasing leverage, access to technology or access to subject matter experts as their larger competitors did. He created this company to try to level the playing field on those three fronts. A key driver of that was this group purchasing organization where he went and negotiated programs with major parts manufacturers on the tire side like Michelin or Bridgestone.
I went to them and said, â€œIâ€™m going to put together this group purchasing organization and build a membership base of buyers that are going to buy your products. Iâ€™m going to take the credit position, so Iâ€™m going to pay you on time every time without deduction,â€ which was super attractive to these manufacturers.
That started our journey down this B2B path. We sat in between these major suppliers and their customer bases and saw the friction that existed on both sides. From that point forward, for many years, weâ€™ve been building out our capabilities to do more and expanding into other end markets. Our heritage is in transportation and in trucking, but we now operate in all segments of the economy.
We started in the fleet space, then we saw that the model worked well there and expanded it to what would be known as the indirect spend category. The things that all businesses buy are office supplies and waste services. Things that all companies buy, but they donâ€™t necessarily buy well because they tend to focus on their core competency in whatever industry theyâ€™re in. All their energy their effort goes into whatâ€™s core to their business. Usually, that indirect stuff is left either to an office manager or to a junior procurement person. Thatâ€™s where we come in and help them optimize that portion of their portfolios.
I was part of a team that did a roll-up in a collision repair space. In the US, itâ€™s called Gerber Auto Collision. In Canada, it was Boyd Autobody. We built it and took it public. I was building out the buying programs for them back in the mid to late â€˜90s. It was amazing what you could save on some of these auto body shops. We were buying and rolling up where the cost of them joining us was getting offset fast on some of the purchases that they thought they were buying well, but we were buying at 30% cheaper. It was almost like an unfair advantage the bigger you bought. They canâ€™t compete.
There is a lot of found money there.
That is the core of what you guys are doing.
That was our core heritage. Since then, itâ€™s still an important part of what we do, but weâ€™ve added a lot to that in terms of technology capabilities to facilitate. For example, an Amazon-like buying experience for customers where they can load their own programs or our GPO programs, get that same experience you would get as a consumer or a business buyer, and manage that entire sourcing all the way through to the back end payment on the buy side.
A mirror image of that on the supplier side where we work with the suppliers to say, â€œWe know itâ€™s challenging for you to deal with all of your customers and the different ways that they want to transmit orders to you, the way they want to be invoiced then ultimately the way your customers want to pay you from a modality and a timing perspective.â€ We can provide end-to-end turnkey solutions so that, at the end of the day, we unleash a tremendous amount of cashflow, and working capital and drive a lot of expense reduction.
There are a lot of efficiencies for them. Are you guys a SaaS company?
Everything is delivered through a SaaS platform. Everything we do has a SaaS platform element to it then we combine that with advisory services. We acquired a consulting company a couple of years ago that can come in and do the advisory work on the front end. From an execution perspective, we provide managed services to complement the technology because, as weâ€™ve experienced over the years, certainly the trend is to SaaS platforms, and everybody wants to tell you. It turns a couple of knobs, presses a couple of buttons, and it works perfectly. We know this is a major business process change thatâ€™s being enacted. Thatâ€™s why we prioritize the advisory and managed services to complement the technology.
When did the merging of AmeriQuest and Corcentric happen?
It was either late 2017 or early 2018.
What was it like when you were emerging that legacy business? Was it the legacy employees that had been there for 30 years, moving them and merging them into tech?
It was the merging of two pretty different mindsets and cultures. That was our challenge as a whole, but one of my big challenges individually when we first did that. I was focused on the technology business and had my own group of employees and teams that I worked very closely with. I had an armâ€™s length interaction with the legacy AmeriQuest business. We brought the two businesses together. I was named President-CEO of the entire organization and had to figure out how to bring the cultures together and try to meld that in a way that we continue to have the best of the best of all elements of our business come together in a cohesive fashion. It doesnâ€™t happen overnight.
How did you approach the merging of those two cultures? Can you give us a high or medium-level roadmap of what you did to integrate the two businesses and maybe roughly how long it took until it was 90% done?
When I stepped back and looked at it, I said, â€œWe all got to be speaking the same language, have some way in which weâ€™re managing the business and some cadence to how weâ€™re operating the business to make this all come together.â€ Serendipitously around that time, I was a member of Vistage, and somebody had come in. I donâ€™t know if you are familiar with Traction or EOS.
I know Gino Wickman well.
I read that book. I was like, â€œThis is perfect for what weâ€™re going through right now because itâ€™ll give us an opportunity to get together on the front end, set that shared vision and that big picture out their goal, then walk it back to three to a year to the quarter.â€ Everybody was speaking the same similar language in terms of not just at the management team level but in there amongst their teams. That accelerates things. Donâ€™t get me wrong. It still took time to pardon the pun and get traction. Without that, it would have taken a lot longer. I credit having that kind of methodology, discipline and cadence to getting us where we needed to get faster than we would have if we had let it happen organically.
What parts of Traction were tough for you to make work? What else did you need to put in place that maybe Traction didnâ€™t cover for you? This isnâ€™t anything against Traction. Readers, Traction is a solid Entrepreneurial Operating System. Itâ€™s got good basic systems to scale. In terms of merging two companies, it wasnâ€™t developed for that. What did you have to do to merge the companies that maybe were separate or did you force-feed it all into Traction?
We said to ourselves, â€œWeâ€™re not going to implement this entire thing overnight.â€ We tried to focus on the things that we thought would give us the biggest lift. The meeting cadence was the first thing we put in. Having the weekly level ten meetings, the quarterly planning meetings, and the annual planning meetings and knowing what weâ€™re trying to accomplish in those meetings was what we focused on first and foremost, and implementing the rocks which are setting your key priorities. That was interesting going through that process because when youâ€™re sitting there as a merged company and trying to decide what are the 3 to 8 or 3 to 7 most important things weâ€™re trying to accomplish as a company in a given quarter.
Focus on the things that would give you the biggest lift.
The perspectives were different from the different managers of the different business units to be like, â€œI donâ€™t even know what that guy over there saying, but I know that this thing is most important to me.â€ Iâ€™m the one that has to sit there at the end of the day and make the call to say, â€œUnfortunately, for this particular business unit manager, itâ€™s important what youâ€™re doing, but itâ€™s not 1 of the 3 to 7 most important things weâ€™re doing as an organization.â€ Those are some of the more difficult conversations that had to take place.
Were there any layoffs that had to happen? Were you able to navigate around that?
We were in growth mode. Weâ€™re a growing company. We were always trying to improve and grow the team, but no synergies or anything that we were looking to do. It was more about unifying under a single brand, getting everybody walking around and saying, â€œWe are all part of Corcentric,â€ versus, â€œIâ€™m AmeriQuest Corcentric,â€ which was manifesting itself in sub-optimal ways internally, but also when we are trying to approach a customer from a cross-sell and upsell perspective. Weâ€™re walking in there with somebody saying, â€œIâ€™m from AmeriQuest,â€ and somebody saying, â€œIâ€™m from Corcentric.â€ Itâ€™s two different business cards, branding and messaging. What we were trying to do was unify the people around a unified brand and have them speak in the same fashion with around their customers and prospects.
It sounds like some of your growth has been by being involved in Vistage. For anybody whoâ€™s not aware of Vistage, it has been around for many years and was started in the US by a guy named Richard Cheney. I had dinner with his son many years ago, a completely random occurrence. At that time, it was called tech. Iâ€™m like, â€œI donâ€™t know what tech is.â€ He was explaining and it sounds cool. Itâ€™s a well-run organization. Iâ€™ve spoken at twenty of their executive summit, and their big all-city events all around the US over the years. Itâ€™s a great organization. What do you think that you got better at as a leader by being involved in Vistage?
A couple of things. It made me hold myself more accountable. When youâ€™re towards the top of the organization, Iâ€™m accountable to our CEO and to our board. Thereâ€™s a layer there thatâ€™s missing in terms of somebody thatâ€™s challenging on a regular basis to say, â€œLast month you came in and you said you had this person that was underperforming. That was a drag on the organization. That wasnâ€™t a cultural fit. Iâ€™m assuming youâ€™ve done something about it.â€ Youâ€™re in there like, â€œIâ€™m going to get you.â€ It holds you more accountable and the access to the speakers that come in on a regular basis. Itâ€™s smaller groups like 8, 10, 12 or 14 people.
You get access to high-level speakers. You get a chance to hear their presentation that they would normally give as a keynote, but then you get to have the conversation after the fact to bring it to your business and say, â€œI understand the topic of your conversation. Now, letâ€™s make it applicable to the business.â€ I found that extremely valuable.
The third thing was it was almost like Quasi-Therapy because when youâ€™re in the COO role, youâ€™re always getting dumped on. People are coming to you and saying, â€œThis isnâ€™t working. Iâ€™m not happy about this.â€ Youâ€™re getting dumped on constantly. Itâ€™s like, â€œWhere do you go to dump,â€ and to be able to go to a group of people that are your peers that care about you obviously, they care about your company, but they care more about you as your career progression. Theyâ€™ll give you unbiased and unfiltered, â€œThis is how you should be processing whatâ€™s happening at a given time.â€ Those were the few things that I got the most value out of.
What are you working on in terms of your own growth? What do you think youâ€™re focusing on?
Iâ€™m always looking to improve on all fronts. Iâ€™m a big reader. I believe that leaders are readers. I forget whose quote that is. Itâ€™s not mine. I wonâ€™t take credit. I love to consume information and take something out of that. Youâ€™re usually not going to take everything you read in a given book but try to improve personally and professionally. Iâ€™m probably more focused on the personal side of things if you try to balance it in terms of the right work-life balance, the right mentality when youâ€™re at home and being present. I have young children, so Iâ€™m trying to be a better dad, husband, brother or son family member. That takes work.
People like to act like it doesnâ€™t take work, but it takes work because itâ€™s very easy to use work as an excuse to say, â€œIâ€™m busy. I donâ€™t have time for that.â€ This whole pandemic, thatâ€™s been a real eye-opener for me. I went from traveling. Eighty percent of the time, I was on the road, either visiting customers or at other offices of ours or whatever it might be. Being in the home for a long period of time, it helped give me perspective in terms of what life looked like in normal times and even now.
Work-life balance takes work because it’s very easy to use work as an excuse.
Do you think youâ€™ll travel again like that for business, or have you found a different way to approach growth without having to travel?
I donâ€™t think itâ€™ll be binary travel or no travel, but I think itâ€™ll be less than it was pre-COVID. There was a challenge generationally in business. The younger population in the business community was already comfortable doing virtual meetings and things of that nature. It was the older population. I donâ€™t mean that in a bad way. People know what they know. They grew up their whole lives and nothing got done unless you had an in-person face-to-face meeting.
I still think thereâ€™s a tremendous amount of value in face-to-face meetings and there will always be. Some of the things we used to travel for, people are looking at it and saying, â€œDo we need to do that? Do we need to get on a plane and spend 3 or 4 hours at an airport or in the air to have a half-hour meeting? Is that the most productive thing to do?â€ Those were the things everybodyâ€™s taken a hard to look at.
Thereâ€™s a little bit of an innate or intuitive ROI analysis starting to kick up. Did you guys have to go remote then, or some in the office, some are remote or all remote?
In 2021, we went on a dime. We went 100%. We have physical locations in France, in the UK, along with our locations here in the US. Things were tracking slightly ahead overseas. Itâ€™s giving us this preview, and we have 500 employees globally. Seventy-five of those are overseas, and the rest of them are domestic. We got on a smaller-scale preview of what was happening. We saw that 2 to 3 weeks later, stateside, was when we would expect a similar thing to take place. As things shut down over there, we were like, â€œWe better be ready for that same thing to happen over here.â€ It was great. I was very proud of our company. We pivoted very quickly to 100% remote and wverybody did it. We took it in stride and did what they had to do. Iâ€™d say, â€œAll things considered, we were able to do it pretty seamlessly.â€
Will you stay remote, get in a hybrid or go back fully to an office?
My thinking is itâ€™s going to be somewhat of a hybrid. What I think is going to happen is what offices are used for is going to be different. Weâ€™ve already started to look at that from a design perspective. Offices are going to be more for collaboration. Teams need to come together on a project or work on their issues. Theyâ€™re going to come in, get in a conference room and collaborate. Itâ€™s not going to be a place where people are going to go come into an office and close the door.
Everybody realized that you donâ€™t need to be in an office to do that. Itâ€™s going to be more collaboration and hotelling spaces so that thereâ€™s value in the interaction. Thereâ€™s a ton of value in human interaction. Thatâ€™s what the office is used for. Itâ€™s not used as a place for people to stow themselves in a cube or an office and not interact with anybody.
I was speaking to one of our members of the COO Alliance. They said they had 1,400 employees. If youâ€™d ever told them in February 2021 if theyâ€™re ever going to be remote, heâ€™ll say, â€œYouâ€™re an idiot. Thereâ€™s no way.â€ He said within three days, 1,400 people were working remotely and said they might never go back to physical space. I would not want to be in the commercial office space.
Itâ€™s not going to be on a dime because of these long leases that take time to unfold. Thatâ€™s probably not being talked about enough, like what are the ramifications of whatâ€™s going to happen to that industry.
What about growing your people? I did a call with the group of CEOs and I talked about, â€œThe more that we grow our people, the more theyâ€™ll grow our brand.â€ Do you have any systems or areas where you focus on growing members and leaders more than others? Do you have an area that you default towards you work on?
With our head of HR, I put a lot of focus on career path development. That was something that, as a more entrepreneurial company, you donâ€™t put a lot of energy or time into. You say, â€œItâ€™s going to happen organically. The good people will rise and the people that arenâ€™t that great will stay.â€ We have put a heavy focus on career path development and understanding that it has to be customized throughout the organization no matter how big you get. When I say that, I even made a mistake in the past of assuming everybody eventually wants to be at the C-level.
You pay more attention to it and understand there are people who certainly do want to rise to those levels and have a white high passion about getting upward mobility and moving up to those levels. There are also people that honestly would sit there and say, â€œI am perfectly comfortable as an individual contributor. This is what I like to do. Donâ€™t take me out of my comfort zone.â€ Made mistakes in the past of taking people that were probably more in that comfortable individual contributor role and forcing them into managers and ultimately having to realize, â€œThat wasnâ€™t the right move. Letâ€™s get you back to where youâ€™re comfortable.â€
Trying to understand the people, what their goals and aspirations are, and then trying to provide the career development support that says, â€œIf you do want to go from being an individual contributor to a manager, here are the gaps you have. These are the things we need to work on. If you close those gaps, youâ€™ll be well-positioned to take that next step.â€ Making it a very logical roadmap for folks to say, â€œHereâ€™s where Iâ€™m at. Hereâ€™s where Iâ€™d like to be. This is what I got to do to get there.â€ That has gone over very well when you look at our employee surveys and whatnot around something weâ€™ve done in the past couple of years that got good feedback from people. They feel like weâ€™re investing in them and giving them the skills that they need to progress in their careers.
If you think back to the school days, the only students that were learning were the ones that wanted to learn. The ones that didnâ€™t want to learn tuned out. I got a solid 65 because they showed up but the ones who were engaged and paying attention, wanting to learn, were going to learn. Itâ€™s very similar in the work world. Thereâ€™s no point in trying to grow people that arenâ€™t ready to grow or donâ€™t want to grow. In the words of Chevy Chase, â€œThe world needs ditch diggers too.â€
I donâ€™t mean that in a bad way, but there are some people that are perfectly happy being individual contributors. My girlfriend completely checked out of the work world. She sold her house and her assets. She quit a great job with Salesforce and Ticketmaster. Sheâ€™s going to go and travel for five years and has completely cashed out and wants to be off the grid. Iâ€™m like, â€œI get it. Whatâ€™s the point of trying to work hard to buy stuff we donâ€™t need to impress people we donâ€™t like.â€
It was very eye-opening for me. I have conversations with people and theyâ€™re like, â€œI would never want to be in your role. Youâ€™re never off. Even when your work day is done, youâ€™re thinking about this and that. Things are keeping you up.â€ There are people that are like, â€œWhen Iâ€™m done my day at 5:00 or 5:30, I leave it at my desk and Iâ€™m done.â€ I donâ€™t know what that feels like or what that means.
I donâ€™t certainly know what it feels like because Iâ€™ve run my own business or been a second command for a long time. Tell me about Europe and what countries are you guys operating in over there.
The physical location is in France and the UK. We are mostly headquartered in those regions but we have some customers in the greater EMEA region. Nothing in Asia Pacific. We are focused in UK and Europe arena for now. That came to us through an acquisition we did in April 2019. We did two acquisitions in early 2019. One of them had a presence in France and UK. The other one was in just UK. Itâ€™s been a new experience. Iâ€™ve enjoyed learning whatâ€™s similar and whatâ€™s not similar among both the employees and the customers. Itâ€™s been a lot of fun to learn.
Whereâ€™s your head office?
Our main headquarters is in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Youâ€™re not too far for time zones. Was it a four-hour time zone?
Itâ€™s 5 in UK and 6 in France.
It is still far enough that you have to do a little bit of juggling then.
We have to learn. Weâ€™re doing all employee calls. Usually, we do them at 10:00 or 11:00 AM because itâ€™s not too late for people in Europe. Itâ€™s not too early for the people on the West Coast that are employees of ours. It adds some dynamics from that perspective, for sure.
At the COO Alliance call, one of the guys in the UK was like, â€œI got to sign out. Itâ€™s 1:00 in the morning here.â€ One of the women started laughing. She goes, â€œWhat are you complaining about? Iâ€™m in Korea. Itâ€™s 6:00 in the morning.â€ Weâ€™ve been up through the night doing the call. He wanted to go to sleep. Sheâ€™s like, â€œIâ€™ve already given up on sleep. Forget it. Weâ€™re done.â€In terms of the global, what have you learned in terms of what is done differently in Europe? I donâ€™t know if it is different between France and the UK, but what are they doing differently in terms of operation and leadership that youâ€™ve learned or noticed?
One of the biggest takeaways I had when I first went over there is I found a much more communal mindset amongst our customer base. I find in North America, people are very protective of what theyâ€™re doing, and act like itâ€™s maybe top secret, even some very basic things. Especially in France, we work a lot with Chief Procurement Officers or CPOs over there. These CPOs would get together. Theyâ€™d openly share best practices, what theyâ€™re doing, whatâ€™s working, and way more collaboration and peer discussion going on than at least Iâ€™ve experienced here. They are way more willing to openly share about whatâ€™s working and whatâ€™s not working.
I feel like sometimes, and you probably experience this with your COO Alliances, even if you get the people together, either people are painting too rosy of a picture because they donâ€™t want to expose maybe what things arenâ€™t working well or if some things are going well, they donâ€™t want to share it because they feel like theyâ€™re giving away some competitive advantage. You get these sterile conversations versus over there. It gets open quickly. They lean on each other, which creates an interesting dynamic because word of mouth is huge.
For example, in France is just the culture. Some of that is the logistics. All the business happens in Paris. If all of our customers over here in North America were in one city, youâ€™d have a lot more opportunities to get the customers together, collaborate and talk. Here, youâ€™d have to go to probably 60 to 75 cities to hit all of our customers. A different dynamic from that perspective is one of the biggest things that Iâ€™ve noticed.
When it comes to what we do in the business-to-business world, there are more regional and government standards that have forced progress on things like electronic invoicing. Here, there are still a lot of paper checks and paper invoicing thatâ€™s taking place. Over there, thereâ€™s no choice. You have to be in compliance and be electronic on all those fronts. It is interesting to see how thatâ€™s manifested itself in terms of regulation-forced progress in the B2B space.
Itâ€™s interesting to see some of whatâ€™s going on around the world for business. If we were to go back to you as a 23-year-old, graduating college and you wanted to give yourself some advice, what advice would you give yourself back then that you know to be true now but you wish youâ€™d known a lot earlier?
The thing that floats around in my head the most and I try to advise people about this, is always thinking for where youâ€™re trying to go way earlier than you think you have early on in your business career, you have to do, dealing with the demands of the day. I found in leadership thinking 1, 2 or 3 years ahead, even if itâ€™s not accurate, what your vision is at that point in time, itâ€™ll force you to say, â€œI need to hire for where weâ€™re going, not for where weâ€™re at right now or where we were at even yesterday. I need to be thinking about these market shifts.â€
Always be thinking 2, 3 or even 5 years down the road and then walking backward to what that means to you at a given point in time in your career. That doesnâ€™t have to mean youâ€™re even running a company in your own personal progression of thinking like, â€œWhat is my current BHAG or big picture vision or goal and how do I need to walk that backward to what I need to do today, this week, or this quarter to move in the right direction?â€
Matt Clark, the President and COO of Corcentric, thanks very much for sharing with us. We appreciate your time.
Thanks, Cameron. I appreciate it.
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About Matt Clark
As the President and Chief Operating Officer for Corcentric, Matt is responsible for setting and steering Corcentricâ€™s strategic vision. He and the Corcentric team share a fervor for helping Procurement and Finance leaders quickly enhance cash flow by optimizing how they purchase, pay, and get paid.
Matt has helped guide the company on a consistent growth trajectory via organic efforts and strategic acquisitions. He has helped Corcentric assemble an unmatched combination of software, advisory, and payments capabilities to position Corcentric as a global leader in Procurement, Accounts Payable, and Accounts Receivable solutions.
Matt is a proud alum of the University of Maryland, where he is an advisor and guest lecturer for the University of Maryland Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. He sits on the Board of Directors for several technology companies and is dedicated to helping businesses thrive in todayâ€™s unpredictable times.
Matt is also a Caron DC Advisory Board Member and is passionate about Caron’s mission to restore health, hope, spirituality and relationships to its patients and their families.