Lonny Bernath began his career as an industrial engineer, working for Entenmann's in a bakery/factory in Miami, Florida. Lonny started out studying ways to make the manufacturing process more efficient and increase productivity or reduce costs for the company. Lonny's claim to fame in his first job was developing a new method for adding pecans to the Entenmann's Pecan Ring that saved the company over $100,000 per year. Lonny rode the success of that innovation to a promotion to Project Engineer and eventually to the offer to move to Chicago at Entenmann's larger midwestern facility.
Working in a bakery certainly had its perks as Lonny was allowed to bring two free boxes of goodies home EVERY DAY from work. While being around donuts and cake all day didn't make eating them at night appealing to Lonny, his first few roommates certainly packed on some pounds, and grandma and grandpa always loved a visit from Lonny because it meant free cheesecake.
Lonny moved from cake to cookies in 1998, joining Nabisco as a project engineer in their Niles bakery. Lonny spent nearly two years at Nabisco developing and installing new equipment lines at the plant, including the coolest machine ever, the Oreo Cookie Maker.
Lonny then relocated to Texas and joined Frito Lay at their headquarters in Plano. At Frito, Lonny worked on optimizing the store delivery systems for the company. Focused primarily on grocery stores, Lonny helped develop and test new racking systems to allow Frito sales associates to load chip bags onto grocery store racks faster than they had historically, thereby increasing their productivity.
In 2003, after graduating from MIT Sloan, Lonny launched Headline Capital Management, an investment fund based on his research at MIT around how stocks reacted to earnings announcements. The fund had an incredible start, returning an average of over 20% per year over the first 5 years.
As the fund grew from friends and family to more investors, Lonny continued to look for new investment opportunities and launched a second fund in 2007 based on the correlation between Asian and US markets. In its first year, the new fund had an incredible 100% return.
In 2007, Lonny sold majority ownership in Headline Capital Management to two investors. These investors, seeking to grow the fund further, moved the fund into other areas outside of Lonny's core skills. These changes, along with the inevitable burnout from the day to day stress of trading, led Lonny to close the fund in 2009.
Read Lonny's response to the litigation involving Headline Capital Management.
In 2010, Lonny launched AtoZ Companies, a start-up eCommerce company. Lonny used his mathematical background to develop an optimized approach to Google search and Google paid advertising. Using this math, Lonny and team launched dozens of websites with specialized search targets in the home furnshings space. Lonny's roll with the company as CEO included overseeing web development, finance, marketing and sales.
AtoZ grew quickly, growing to $3 million in annual revenue in less than 18 months. At its peak, AtoZ had 15 employees in web development, customer service, sales and operations. With this growth came a need for outside capital to support the expansion into new websites and specialties. Unfortunately, the growth of the company outpaced their ability to raise capital and the company was forced to shut down in 2012 before reaching profitability.
The closing of AtoZ was a difficult time for Lonny, but it was also the best learning experience of his life. He not only developed core interpersonal and management skills, but also a strong understanding of what it takes to build and grow a business.
After taking an enterprise sales role at IBM, Lonny and Julie were approached by an AtoZ investor to take a look at a large pediatric therapy clinic in Mooresville, North Carolina. The clinic was operating out of a wonderful facility but the owner had come under financial distress and needed someone with business acumen to help return the company to profitability. With Julie's occupational therapy background, this was a great opportunity for them to apply both their business and clinical skills to turn the company around.
Since taking over, PAT has grown to be the largest pediatric outpatient clinic in the Carolinas. Expanding into multiple disciplines including occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy, the company doubled annual revenue within 3 years.
The experience at PAT has been the most rewarding of Lonny's career. Saving PAT from financial difficulty and becoming a place where hundreds of kids can come to get help is more meaningful and important than anything Lonny has done before or since. Today, the children that come to PAT experience unparalleled treatment in a world class environment. They are truly making a difference in people's lives.
After the closing of AtoZ, it was time for Lonny to head back to the world of corporate America and a steady paycheck. Lonny joined IBM in 2013 and quickly learned the world of enterprise software sales. The years as an entrepeneur and finance manager allowed Lonny to quickly understand the business needs of his customers and develop software contracts best suited for their needs.
Lonny spent his first 2.5 years at IBM as a Software Client Leader, managing a team of software sellers into large enterprise accounts in the Carolinas. He exceeded revenue targets in each of those years and in his last 6 months in the roll, achieved 350% of plan for his territory.
Parlaying that success, Lonny was promoted in 2015 to manage a team of Software Client Leaders where he currently manages a team of 5 across 12 of the largest IBM accounts in the Carolinas.