Expert Interview Series: Lew Visscher, CFO


Meet Lew

I’m Lew Visscher, I'm CFO for Catalyst Repository Systems here in Denver Colorado. We're a document management company for the e-discovery litigation space. That's my day job. Holidays, nights, and weekends I'm also the founder of Lew's list which is about 11,000 finance and accounting professionals that I have on a job board, that I send between 100 and 150 jobs a month to. You know Catalyst customers are primarily law firms, corporations, and partners that sell to law firms or corporations. Again, any time a big company has lots of documents that it needs to search, sort, and filter through as it relates to litigation and find the so-called smoking gun, those are types of clients. We host the documents for them on our systems and our servers here in Denver and in our offices in Tokyo. With Lew's List, I work with all kinds of companies: small, large, public, private, nonprofit, it crosses the entire gamut of companies that there's no one particular style or type or industry or anything. I tend to have a little bit more of a passion for early stage and technology-based businesses, so if there is an emphasis or a focus on those, that's probably just because of my passion.



Can you tell us about Lew’s List and how you started that business?

Lew's list is a job board with about 11,000 finance and accounting professionals in the front range of Colorado that I send 100 to 150 jobs a month to, ranging from bookkeeper to CFO and all the jobs in the middle. I started Lew's list in 2003, totally by mistake. It was an attempt to start a networking group back in 2003 and getting people on a list that I would invite to a networking event, and a friend of mine asked me to send a controller opportunity out to that network group one time and I did that. Fast forward what almost 15 years, the list is now like I said 11,000 people and I send five, six jobs a day. I continue to add five to six people a day to the job board.

What benefit do you bring to your customers? Why do they trust you?

Catalyst customers really rely on our products and services to help them get through litigation to help them, again, find the documents that are relevant to their case. They also rely on Catalyst to help save them money. Document populations are going through the roof and so they can't afford to review all the documents and look at all the documents they have for litigation, so we have technology that helps them get to the right documents very very quickly. As it relates to Lew's List I think it's because I offer them a service. I give them candidates really quickly through Lew's List almost overnight. And if they're successful through Lew's List their fee to find these find candidates, or find people, or find hires, is you know 10% or less of what they would normally pay a recruiter.

How do you know Shawn Windle and ERP Advisors Group?

Sure I met Shawn I want to say at least 10 years, maybe 12 years ago. I believe Shawn heard about Lew's List, invited me to come to breakfast with him and we just struck a relationship and we've remained friends ever since. We've probably gone to breakfast together at least once a year since then and we've both worked in public accounting, we had a lot in common and again we've just kind of stayed in contact and friends. I've referred people to Shawn. Shawn's referred people to Lew's List. So we've just had a mutual respect for each other.

Can you talk about the project that you did with ERP Advisors Group?

Catalyst embarked on evaluating a new accounting system in early 2015 and throughout most of the year I would kind of ping Shawn and ask Shawn about whether we should or shouldn't evaluate, you know go through the process, and he would give me a bunch of things to think about and had some advice and ultimately we evaluated several vendors on our own and chose Netsuite. And I used ERP advisors to get a great deal from Netsuite, based on some pricing, and then Shawn referred us to Derek who was just awesome in our implementation. We chose to do most of the implementation ourselves with the help of Derek and who again, was a referral from Shawn and we couldn't have done it without him. We got through it in about six weeks from start to finish, which was a little bit unheard of. We are a little bit outside the box in the way we implemented the system, in that we decided not to go parallel with our existing Peachtree Accounting System. And we also let our people ignore their day jobs and really focus on getting the thing implemented versus continuing to do both and killing our people. So a couple of those, those two things were really instrumental in allowing us to go live very rapidly and Shawn advised along the way.

Why do you like working with ERP Advisors Group?

You know ERP Advisors really understands the market that they're in and the clients that they have. They're very honest, high integrity people and frankly I really don't know of any other firm in Colorado that does what they do. And so they really provide a valuable resource to our finance and accounting community as it relates to evaluating software, evaluating platforms, understanding whether a company needs to have a change in their software or their systems.

What is it like working with ERP Advisors Group?

You know they're awesome. They're very thoughtful. They follow up. They're very quick to respond. And so people even comment back to me and they say, "Thanks so much for the referral to Shawn and crew they've been very very helpful." They're very knowledgeable about their space and they're also very knowledgeable about all the products that are out there and all the other services companies that can help them implement if they need that or they can do that themselves.

You co-host an accounting breakfast series with EAG: can you tell us how that started?

Yes, Shawn asked if I would help. I think I received an invite to a breakfast from either Shawn or Erica and I just actually reached out to Shawn and said, "Hey would you like help getting some executives or finance and accounting folks to this breakfast?" And so again just kind of a mutual thing and I forwarded it off to Lew's List and continue to do that and invite on a quarterly basis.

Do you receive any compensation for referring clients to ERP Advisors Group?

Sure that the benefit is really a pay it forward for me. What I try to do is provide my Lew's List members quality opportunities. So I send them opportunities for things like the ERP breakfast, things like quality seminars or webinars that I run across related to our profession. Continuing education opportunities, those types of things and ERP is just one of those things that I can provide as a benefit to my members.

Can you tell us one thing that everyone should know about working with EAG?

You know one unique thing about ERP Advisors Group that I found very interesting is that they have no direct affiliation with any of the vendors. They get no kickbacks from any of the vendors unlike, I believe, others like ERP advisors. So they're vendor agnostic. They really focus on trying to get you or provide you with the right solution, not one that maybe lines their pockets.

What advice would you give someone currently shopping for a new ERP system?

I always ask them to call Shawn. I mean, Lew's List members reach out frequently and to me personally, asking about systems and whether they should change systems. And I always refer them to Shawn and the ERP Advisors Group. I honestly don't even know who else to refer them to at this point. Shawn's always been very very helpful. He provides free consulting on the front end and he's very very honest with people about how, when, and what they can do to help. People call me occasionally and I'll even use his line that says if you don't need to switch don't. But if you do feel like you need to switch and you need help understanding which system to go to, when to go, how big to go, how small to go, I mean Shawn and crew they understand and know this stuff and they're the best ones to help you. They're very practical. They understand business. It's kind of like, they've been there, done that before and so they understand the limitations of what a business can or cannot do or what it can take on or what it can't. And so they are very good about telling you what you can and can't, should and should not do or most importantly sometimes should not do. And so that is that is pretty key from them. They're very honest about that. Their integrity is really high in that regard.