Millrock, a 12-year-old, $5-million manufacturer of display racks and fixtures, was slow to recognize the need for financial controls. "We were growing so fast, we thought, Why bother?" recalls Martin Liebmann, president of the Sanford, Maine, company.

But when Millrock started losing money, Liebmann knew he could use better financial information. He hired Raleigh Minor, a vice-president of turnaround specialists Allomet Partners, in Savannah, Ga. "Minor emphasized that our business was suffering because management couldn't rely on financial controls and a reporting system," says Liebmann. "I recognized it would help if we could generate timely and accurate numbers. But I worried about becoming obsessed with financial minutiae."

Liebmann's anxieties are common. But financial-control systems can be tailored to the needs and corporate temperaments of all types of companies. (See Minor's five cardinal rules, No. 05921563, May 1992.) Millrock set up a system that provides Liebmann with four essential details: (1) weekly accounts-receivable breakdowns, (2) weekly sales figures (compared with projections), (3) weekly inventory updates, and (4) monthly accounts-payable reports.

"The financial controls helped me understand the changes and flow of our business," says Liebmann. "Once again, we're back on target with growth and profitability."

-- Jill Andresky Fraser