Matt Dowling is a lecturer at the Lam Family College of Business Management Department. He graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 1980 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Economics. After his undergraduate studies, he pursued and graduated with a Master’s in Business Administration from Boston College in 1985. Between the two, he took a break to work in public accounting, ultimately becoming a state Certified Public Accountant. Matt is currently the Chief Financial Officer of Togo’s Eateries.
work in public accounting, ultimately becoming a State Certified Public Accountant. Matt is currently the Chief Financial Officer of Togo’s Eateries.
Matt has also worked as an executive for various multi-national companies in different sectors like oil and gas, bicycles, and restaurants for the last 30 years. He has served as the CFO, COO and eventually the CEO of Marin Bikes and CFO of Round Table Pizza. Matt also served as the CFO and President of Boudin Bakery, a 100-million-dollar restaurant company.
MARIN BIKES (2004-2010)
Matt came to know about Marin Bikes through one of his banking associates in San Francisco. At that time, the bicycles sector was not doing well, and the company needed someone who knew finance to the core. After doing some consulting work at the initial stage, Matt eventually became CFO in a couple of years. Matt believes “it’s really interesting to work with founders,” describing them as “dynamic people who have a lot of personality and they don’t necessarily like rules.”
He ushered in exponential growth for the company by raising the prices of products that were undervalued compared to the market average at the time. He took the risk of increasing the price of the products, which proved to be a substantial step towards the company’s success. He eventually became a co-owner of the company and co-owner of the commercial real estate that the founder of Marin Bikes owned. The company has sold bicycles in over 45 countries. He was also a part of the discussions of a possible merger between Marin Bikes and “Cycles Europe,” Europe’s leading bicycle company.
Another challenge was when Matt helped a customer get the company back on its feet after declaring bankruptcy. According to Matt, it was a difficult decision to give more credit to the company, but instead of dropping the client, he took a very different approach. He did all the research and built a great relationship with the client which eventually proved to be a successful and fruitful decision.
As the CEO of Marin Bikes, he got to travel around the world and had a chance to attend bicycle shows and events which were organized twice or thrice a year in Germany, Las Vegas, and Taiwan. A particularly fond memory of Matt’s was when he got invited to a dinner party on the top floor of Taipei 101, the world’s tallest building at that time. He got a chance to sit at the main table of the restaurant with the world’s biggest bike supplier Shimano’s board of directors and people who played big roles in the bicycle business.
BOUDIN BAKERY (2018-2021)
After Round Table Pizza was sold to a private equity group in 2017, Matt became the CFO and eventually president of Boudin Bakery. He quickly identified the need for reformation in the company’s operations. He was part of a new management team and helped downsize the company, outsourcing the accounting department to services in Kansas. Eight to nine months later, the profit started flowing in. He also brought a huge change in the company culture, fostering trust and empowerment by giving good bonuses, making sure that employees were appreciated and rewarding them for good performance.
LESSONS AND ADVICE
His favorite quote reads “The harder I practice, the luckier I get,” which means that if you work really hard, things will fall into place. Matt said knowing the field you want to enter is crucial. “If you want to pursue the life of an entrepreneur, make sure you have the stamina and the financial resources to be able to live like an entrepreneur for the first two or three years where you’re making not a lot of money and you’re working long hours.
If you decide to work at a company, make sure you do your homework on that company, founders and co-founders as you’re going to be working really long hours and you’re going to be asked to do a lot of things that maybe aren’t even in your background, but they need to be done so you need to have a lot of passion for that company and that product.” Matt believes being smart, ambitious and being successful in what you do, is a good mix for someone he would want in a company. “Past success equals to future success.”