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Room to grow

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Jeff Reynolds has been through two career extremes in the nine years since he was a 40 under 40 recipient in the Business Observer.

Reynolds was a 40 under 40 in 2006, when he was a CPA with Sarasota-based Goar, Endriss & Walker. He was also CFO of the Sarasota Ballet for two years, where he oversaw a budget of more than $2 million.

One extreme was from 2007-2011. That's when he was vice president of finance at xG Technology, a startup that develops and sells wireless communications and spectrum sharing technologies, mostly in rural communities. He helped raised capital, wrote financial projections and managed audits at the Sarasota-based firm, which competes against large broadband firms. He learned a lot, especially how to get things done with limited resources.

“It was a wild time,” says Reynolds, 38, who has two daughters, 8 and 10. “It was a difficult market to play in.”

The other extreme: Reynolds is currently vice president of finance for the services division at Direct Energy in Sarasota. He and his team of about 50 people oversee planning and forecasting. The services division includes heating and air conditioning, plumbing, electrical services and solar through Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, Mister Sparky electric, One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning, Airtron and Astrum Solar.

Direct Energy is a subsidiary of Centrica, a British-based global utility behemoth that's one of the largest firms on the London Stock Exchange, so resources aren't an issue for Reynolds. Even better, says Reynolds, Direct Energy, which has customers in all 50 states, has room to grow in the $80 billion home services sector. “We are the largest,” he says, “but as a percentage of the overall industry we are small.”

Reynolds says his biggest challenges at Direct Energy are different from xG, where he mostly jumped from issue to issue. His challenges now are mostly analytical in nature because about 85% of Reynolds' tasks, he says, are geared toward projecting where Direct Energy needs to go next.

“There are a lot of different business dynamics,” says Reynolds. “I love being able to stay high-level and think about things from there. I love that element.”

Reynolds says he also loves working for Direct Energy — so much so he admits he “goes a little overboard” when he talks up the company to prospective employees. The firm's mottos of simple, friendly and direct, he says, are good words to live by. Adds Reynolds: “I really believe in what this company does.”

Blast rom the past
Here are some of Jeff Reynolds' responses to the questionnaire when he was a 40 under 40 recipient in 2006:

Mentor or business hero: My parents, who started and ran a successful small business in Sarasota for more than 25 years by providing attention to detail and excellent customer service.

Formula for success: Attention to detail, setting priorities, finding efficiencies in everything and treating people fairly.

Hobbies:  Basketball, snowboarding, kayaking and traveling.

What's on your iPod? Rolling Stones, Rage Against the Machine, and Jack Johnson.

Best place outside Florida you've ever been to: Lake Tahoe, Calif. I was lucky enough to get married there.

What would you like to be doing less of? Sitting in traffic.



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