‘The biggest challenge is also an opportunity’

By Mike Lewis
Jeffrey ‘Jeff’ Manwiller, new chief financial officer for The Crowley Co. of Frederick, Md., stands in front of machines that scan microfilm images so they can be converted to a digital format. He says he ought to drink water on a break, but usually it’s coffee.

Jeff Manwiller, chief financial officer of The Crowley Co.

By Mike Lewis

Coffee Break

Seeing what he calls “great opportunity and great people,” Jeff Manwiller went to work for a company that had been his client.

Manwiller, a CPA, earned a degree in accounting from the University of Delaware, where he also played tennis.

“I still play now — not as well,” he said with a laugh.

After spending time working for a private real estate development company, he went into public accounting. He worked at Mayer Hoffman McCann P.C. and CBIZ-MHM; both are in Bethesda, Md., and both joined Cherry Bekaert LLP during his tenure. He oversaw large commercial audits and worked on other issues.

“I always thought at some point in time I’d go back into private practice as a CFO,” he said.

Among his clients was The Crowley Co., based in Frederick, Md. Crowley is a world leader in digital imaging technologies and services, and Manwiller liked the company, its people and the way they did business.

“I’ve worked with Crowley since 1999, 2000,” he said. “It was one of the best relationships I had.”

So when the opportunity came to become the CFO at Crowley, Manwiller took it.

Pat Crowley, company president, addressed that relationship when the company issued a news release about Manwiller’s new job.

“Jeff is in the unique position of taking on the task of CFO with a minimum of learning curve,” Crowley said in the release. “He is intimately familiar with the company’s finances, having worked with us personally. … We’re very pleased that he has chosen to make his next career move The Crowley Company, and I’m confident that we’ll reap great benefit from his presence here.”

Manwiller started May 6 and was “still drinking from a fire hose,” as he put it, in mid-June as he learned more about the company and his new role. But he also acknowledged that he has a “pretty good toolkit” from his years in public accounting generally and from working with Crowley specifically.

Crowley not only sells imaging equipment, it also provides imaging services and related lines. Its client list ranges from companies and nonprofits to universities and the Library of Congress.

“There’s a lot of uses for this technology. … We’re global,” Manwiller said.

The company also must be nimble.

“There’s a lot of different quality-control metrics out there that have to be followed,” he said.

“It’s a changing landscape. … It changes daily. Everything is converted real-time to data.”

Manwiller, 48, lives in Sykesville, Md. He and his wife, Trissie, have three children.

On a break, do you reach for coffee, tea, soda, water …?

Should be water, but usually coffee.

An average day for you includes … ?

I’m only two weeks in (at this writing), but every day is different. At this point, I spend a good bit of my time working with our various financial systems and tools and meetings/calls with our staff here in Frederick as well as in our UK subsidiary.

What led you to take the position with The Crowley Co.?

Two things: Great people and great opportunity. I had worked with the company for close to 20 years as a service provider with my accounting firm. I always enjoyed the culture and people here, so I knew it would be a great fit. Now I’m excited to leverage my experiences in the market to help guide the company through some great growth opportunities and initiatives.

Looking at the next few years, what are some of the biggest opportunities and challenges the business could face?

We see great opportunities in expanding our existing digitization solutions and services to new international markets as well as utilizing our technologies to expand in new areas, such as forensics. We make a significant investment in research and development every year. The biggest challenge is also an opportunity. Our ability to evolve our various solutions to adapt to changes in content and records format will be a key focus for our team.

What do you wish more people knew about your business and the niche it occupies?

The Crowley Co. is a full-cycle solutions company. The company’s diverse product and service mix, investment in R&D and technical expertise gives us the ability to meet any records management/document preservation need.

Outside of work, what are your ambitions and aspirations?

Most of my time is dedicated to our three kids and the many activities they participate in. I also do my best to maintain a fledgling tennis career in my spare time.

Want to share a cup of coffee with our readers? Send an email to facetime@crossroadsbizjournal.com or call reporter Mike Lewis at 301-791-7482.