Partner – Cleantech
"Battle-tested CFO providing innovative, cleantech clients a clearer path to growth and profitability"
Jerry Johnson advises innovative cleantech companies from financing and contract negotiations to nuts and bolts management. He helps cleantech companies realize their vision of bringing environmental solutions to market and to develop and maintain profitability. His 25 years of battle-tested business operations and financial experience, coupled with his natural curiosity and passion for how things work enable innovative companies to grow and thrive and serve the community and markets.
Always good with numbers, Jerry’s interests focused on applying numbers in science and in economics and seeing them put into practice. He was curious how things worked, both on a physical, concrete level. He studied science as well business economics, earning a dual-major at Washington University in St. Louis as well as an MBA in finance and corporate accounting from the University of Rochester – Simon Business School. The combination of science and business provided a strong career foundation leading to challenging and rewarding opportunities in a number of industries, most notably renewable energy.
His first introduction to environmental services and regulation came in grad school where he worked for Paul McAvoy, a prominent expert in regulatory markets and past advisor to President Bush in the 80’s, particularly regarding the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Jerry assisted McAvoy in researching books on the economic analysis of regulation and developed an interest in the environment. Having been raised around the energy industry and introduced to the oil industry by his father,r who worked for Shell Oil, it was clear energy was a clear opportunity. His scientific background, coupled with his economics focus, came together in a passion for looking at regulations from a business viewpoint. He was recruited to the Signal Companies to work in corporate development and latched onto the energy-related operating groups that coalesced and later merged with the Allied companies to become Allied Signal. The spin-off became an environmental services company with a cutting-edge emphasis on Clean Air, Water and Energy. He served as the lead analyst on the IPO which gave him a unique perspective of how deals are constructed.It provided a blueprint for structuring financing in the future.
When the company opened Western US offices, Jerry jumped at the chance for more responsibilities and exposure to all areas of the business. Working out of a construction trailer, he saw first-hand how a business was builds and flourishes. Once again, he dug into the details to see how things worked. Given his natural curiosity and a solid background in research, he talked with the engineers developing renewable energy solutions and understood all aspects of the business from the science to the numbers.
After 11 years working in Northern and Southern California in a variety of roles with the company and observing the development of various renewable energy solutions, Jerry moved to San Francisco with Enron as an originator, where he developed, structured and negotiated long-term power and natural gas deals with California industrial companies and municipal utilities. He was lured away to a challenging position as Director of Finance for USWeb/CKS in the midst of the tech boom, and was hired to bring order to a rapidly growing firm. He spent several years in digital and internet-focused service firms that tested his skills and resilience. Eventually, he made his way back to his passion of renewable energy and served as VP, Treasurer and Controller and eventually the CFO of Third Planet WindPower where he was responsible for all finance, accounting, human resources and IT functions for a privately-held renewable energy company that develops, builds and operates utility-scale wind farms.
Jerry is a rare CFO who comes not only with a strong background and understanding of finance and accounting, but is able to view energy and technology-based businesses as more than just the numbers. Coming from a science background, he has an aptitude for understanding how engineered products and systems work and can get up to speed quickly. This direct knowledge enables him to forecast and budget more effectively and to be able to analyze the results of the businesses based on the knowledge of underlying business rather than just balance sheet analysis. It allows him to see how it works, why it works and how can it be better. Because he speaks the language of the industry, he is a respected leader and effective manager.
His success as a leader comes not only from his scientific understanding but from a basic optimistic attitude that is contagious. During turbulent times at struggling companies, he was able to rally the team, helping them to focus on the opportunities and reward them for taking on challenges and being willing to take risks. He is attracted to challenging situations, where there is flux and an opportunity to make a mark and create a change and difference, knowing that all the lessons learned, whether through failure and success, can be taken and applied to the next opportunity. And he is energized by helping to create a culture of change, building the legacy of a company.
While respects and appreciates the various service firms that he helps build and grow, he is innately pulled toward businesses that make or produce things that require a physical transformation. He gravitates toward companies that besides being for-profit, are working for something that has a social good to it, doing something that makes the world a better place.
Jerry brings experience in not only the finance and accounting realm but in other operational areas and so is not limited by a narrow specialist focus. Having worked in a startup environment and been able to take things from soup to nuts with limited resources he is able to provide and wear multiple hats at a time when a client can’t afford to have multiple people. His insights and passion for cleantech and specifically renewable energy makes him an effective advisor and consultant, bringing about growth and change in demanding environments and doing so while also engaging and inspiring the team to success.
Webinar: PPP – Maximizing Loan Forgiveness June 4, 2020
Webinar: Managing Your Finances and the PPP May 21, 2020