Andrew Krop is having fun. He’s a key executive at Spot Freight, which is an Indianapolis success story.
Only in existence since 2009, they are a perennial honoree as one of the IBJ’s Fast 25. We’re having
breakfast at Patachou downtown, surrounded by GenCon attendees in full dress.
KB: How was life growing up?
AK: I am an only child and my parents owned a restaurant in Northwest Indiana – sort of like a mom & pop
version of Steak-n-Shake. I was washing dishes at 10 years old and over time did every job in the place. In
seventh grade, I started caddying at the local country club. Caddying was the perfect job because you are
around successful professionals every day. You learn how to conduct yourself…learn about what makes
people successful. That was the point where I saw myself as a business person. As college was
approaching, I got the Evans Scholarship (a full tuition scholarship for golf caddies). Evans offered the
choice of IU or Purdue. Bloomington is a pretty easy campus to fall in love with, I was an IU basketball fan,
and now I had a scholarship that would put me through school. It was a no-brainer for me.
KB: Did you want to go into accounting all along?
AK: Not exactly. I love numbers. In high school, I took three years of accounting courses, which is how I
got started. However, at college graduation, I was right under the 150-hour CPA requirement and wasn’t
sure accounting was ultimately the path I wanted to take anyway. I decided to explore investment banking
and corporate finance opportunities. I had several Chicago-based offers. I wanted to go to a major market,
and Chicago was an hour away from family. I ended up joining EY’s corporate finance/investment banking
group in the restructuring & turnaround practice.
KB: What was that like?
AK: I graduated in 2001, and it was a great time to be in that business because we were in the aftermath of
the dotcom burst. I was able to jump into active engagements from day 1. Typically, we were working with
over-levered companies – fundamentally good businesses, but with bad balance sheets. Typically, the
outcome was either a sale or a distressed lender would take control of the business.
KB: Various industries?
AK: Yes. Coal, automotive, chemicals, airlines, telecom, consumer products…I worked on the Enron
bankruptcy for a while.
KB: Are you serious?
AK: Yep, not too long after they filed bankruptcy. A very non-traditional assignment, as I got put onto a
team that was trying to trace the formation of the off-balance sheet entities and determining if there were
any assets available to pay off creditors. I was at Enron HQ every day; the place was swarming with bankers
KB: Fascinating. What happened next on your career journey?
AK: Well, following the Enron bankruptcy & other high-profile bankruptcies, EY, like the other accounting
firms, got out of banking and sold their practice to Giuliani Capital…Rudy Giuliani’s company that he started
after the end of his mayoral term. He then sold it to Macquarie Capital (Australian investment bank) in
anticipation of his 2008 Republican Primary run. Ultimately, I moved to KPMG’s corporate finance group in
2012 as they were re-entering the investment banking business before things got rolling with Spot.
KB: How’d you find Spot?
AK: I actually knew one of the founders at Spot. We were college friends from IU and former roommates
in Chicago. He & his partner started the business in 2009, and they were doing well but were ready for
someone with more finance & accounting experience to lead that side of the business. I had always
wanted to be in a small growing company…and be “the numbers guy” that the owners relied on. I wanted
to be a key leader in the growth & development of a company – not just swoop in and swoop out like my
prior roles. We got reconnected and I joined at the beginning of 2014. They were past the startup phase.
There was lots of opportunity… next level stuff.
KB: Has it been what you thought it would be?
AK: Generally, yes. I didn’t expect such a steep growth curve. When I joined, we were $20MM with 27
people. Now five years later we’re $200MM with 200 employees. It’s been challenging to scale at this
rate…processes and systems. It’s not like we have a playbook of how to do this. We have to be flexible with
systems, people…everybody working hard and playing their part. Lots of moving parts. It’s a
KB: What’s your biggest challenge right now?
AK: Scaling the business appropriately for the growth curve. We’re doubling revenue every year. We’re
doing 100,000+ transactions annually right now. It’s about both achieving the growth and also supporting
the growth and being cognizant of what it takes to do that. Things like: When do we need to add
supporting staff, additional sales people…What is the best approach to do this…Is this the right solution…Is
this where we need to spend our time and resources. It’s also about bringing in the right people and
training them the right way. Spot is a recruiting and onboarding machine. Some is throwing them in the fire
and letting them learn as they go while shadowing people. After all, you can’t teach someone in the
classroom to deal with an unhappy truck driver that’s been sitting in his truck for four hours waiting to
deliver his load.
KB: What’s some advice for the aspiring CFO?
AK: Getting a broad perspective is important; learn all of the different aspects of the business. How does
the company operate and make money? What’s a good customer, how did you get that customer? You
have understand accounting. You need a combination of strong technical abilities to do the analysis, but
also a broad enough perspective to understand what it means and the ability to communicate that to the
rest of the team. I’m constantly challenging my team, “Thanks for putting this together, now what does it
KB: What do you look for in people?
AK: Attitude and willingness to work hard are really important in our environment. It’s hard to be at Spot
and not be willing to do whatever it takes. We get people bought into it. In our place, you can feel the
energy instantly. More often than not, people thrive. They want to be part of something successful. The
ones that commit are the ones on track to be successful. I also try to share the bigger picture with my team
so that they know how we’re doing. Lots of time the supporting teams don’t get to see that or feel that.
Attention to detail is another one I never leave off the list – it’s crucial in accounting & finance.
KB: Can you recall any seminal moments in your career?
AK: In investment banking, you learn how to communicate and present in a professional way to execs and
business owners. That’s been a huge part of how I’ve been able to help Spot grow. Knowing how to walk
into a company and working with our owners to tell a story in a meaningful way is a tremendous skill. Just
last Tuesday we met with one of our key customers. They told us that we are by far the most prepared,
most insightful, most knowledgeable supplier they have.
KB: What’s your favorite movie?
AK: Caddyshack. Caddying, golf, scenes I have lived in real life…
KB: What’s your favorite quote?
AK: If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
KB: What’s your definition of excellence?
AK: Knowing that you’ve put in your best effort, and then getting the outcome you were aiming for. I
believe that if we’ve put in the hard work on the front end, more often than not we are going to get the
outcome we want.
KB: If you weren’t a finance guy, what would you do?
AK: At one point in time, I thought about becoming a college professor. I can see myself living in
Bloomington doing that.
KB: Andrew this is great. Thank you.
AK: My pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity to do this.