Indianapolis, IN – Few chief financial officers can say they learned management lessons at the feet of a basketball legend.
Bill Himebrook, CFO of LDI Ltd., is the exception. Serving as team manager for Indiana University basketball under Coach Bob Knight, he said, was “quite possibly the best part of my experience at IU.”
“As a young man, he taught me to be resourceful, purposeful, and to challenge people,” said Himebrook, who ended up on scholarship for his efforts. “And not just in the way people usually think, but to challenge with tasks that get you to go beyond what you thought you were capable of.”
Before joining LDI, Himebrook worked in public accounting for more than seven years with Price Waterhouse. Seeing that continuing with the company would have meant being more mobile, he opted into the corporate world, taking a job with The Associated Group, which became Anthem and then WellPoint. He spent more than 18 years there, working with “many great mentors,” including Michael Smith, who was CFO when Anthem went public. There, he spent a decade integrating companies.
“I had a count at one point,” he said, “and I was involved in tens of billions in acquisitions and investitures.” Yet it never became rote. “If you’ve done one deal, you’ve done one deal. Every single deal I was involved in, I learned something new.”
Himebrook thought he’d work at WellPoint until retirement. But then a call came from mentor Michael Smith, who was serving on LDI’s board, informing him of an opening.
A primary factor that convinced Himebrook to join the company: the Lacy family’s reputation and history.
“If you know the Lacy name,” he said, “you know it represents community focus.” (LDI stands for Lacy Diversified Industries.)
Another appealing factor: LDI was smaller than WellPoint; although it numbers 3,500 employees around the world, only 18 are in the corporate office. “It was more nimble. I could make a difference and be more impactful.”
LDI had largely been investing in distribution companies, owning among other entities auto paint and refinishing products distributor FinishMaster, video distributor Major Video Concepts, and motorcycle and ATV aftermarket parts distributor Tucker Rocky while also being involved in international freight, warehousing and packaging.
Since joining the company less than two years ago, Himebrook has worked out deals to repurchase more than 10 percent of LDI’s outstanding shares, acquire UltiMed (a manufacturer of injection devices for diabetics), and merge LDI’s Tucker Rocky with Motorsport Aftermarket Group (MAG), diversifying LDI into the powersports industry. He served as interim CEO for MAG after the merger.
Through networking with investment bankers, supply-side analysts, bankers, lawyers and more, Himebrook and company try to look at several hundred opportunities a year, settling on one or two—or even none.
“That’s just the nature of the marketplace,” he said.
Originally printed by the Indianapolis Business Journal.