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Cathy Gerken

Controller-Manufacturing Division

Cathy Gerken

Like most accountants, Cathy Gerken says she dislikes being surprised at work. But she has been pleasantly caught off guard throughout her career at The Gerken Companies.

Cathy Gerken took her first bookkeeping class while attending Defiance High School and promptly fell in love with accounting. And, as it turns out, she really, really likes financial spreadsheets. Now in her 29th year performing accounting work for The Gerken Companies, she still gets great satisfaction when debit and credit columns tie out to the penny.

Cathy started at Gerken managing the books for The Custar Stone Co. Comfortable with her workload and eager to learn more, she kept asking for more responsibility. Her bosses were happy to oblige.

Today, Cathy is Controller of The Gerken Companies’ Manufacturing Division. Her duties include producing monthly financial statements, reconciling general ledger accounts, and handling payroll taxes. The work requires high accuracy and a fair amount of level-headedness.

Cathy also performs month-to-month and year-over-year financial comparisons, providing management with accurate information that helps forecast business trends and answer what-if strategy questions.

“I especially enjoy those aspects of my job,” she says.

Cathy grew up in Defiance, Ohio, in a small family that included her parents and a brother. While in high school, Cathy got her first job in finance—albeit indirectly. She worked in the State Bank of Defiance operations department, physically stuffing canceled checks into customer statement envelopes.

She earned an associate degree at Northwest State Community College and a bachelor’s degree from Defiance College.

Cathy met her husband at The Gerken Companies, where he worked until retiring a few years ago. Their casual workplace friendship transformed one day when he called and asked her for a date. Surprised in a good way, she said yes. The couple has four sons, a ten-year-old grandson, and two-and-a-half-year-old twin grandchildren (a boy and a girl). Cathy loves being around her grandchildren and is grateful the entire family lives in the area surrounding Napoleon.

When not managing finances at work, Cathy enjoys reading and spending time at the lake with her family. She does yoga daily and regularly exercises on a treadmill. Cathy is active in her church, where volunteering as treasurer allows her another set of books to delve into.

Cathy recommends The Gerken Companies to anyone looking for a rewarding workplace.

“Gerken is a family oriented business that cares for its people,” says Cathy. “The company offers excellent opportunities from which you can make a career and benefits on which you can raise a family.”

Asked what she appreciates best about her job, Cathy answers without hesitation.

“The people,” she says. “Everyone here is easy to work with, and we all work together.”

Cathy says her job always involves doing or learning something new. Whether it’s another company joining the fold or learning a different part of the business, she never gets bored.

Early in her career at Gerken, Cathy was filling in for a scale clerk at The Custar Stone Co. Workers in the quarry there were preparing to do blasting, and Cathy had an opportunity to go outside and watch.

“It was pretty cool to hear the blast and see part of the quarry pit wall crumble and fall,” she recalls. “Not everyone gets to see something like that at work.”

Experiences like that are welcome surprises, even for an accountant who tries to avoid them.

“Everyone here is easy to work with, and we all work together.”

—Cathy Gerken