When Russell Paquette started work at Kent, Wash. based recreational equipment supplier REI in October 2000 as its first cash manager, he faced a mountain of challenges. There was no cash forecasting at the then $698 million member-owned cooperative. Investment strategy boiled down to the transfer of surplus balances into one of two money market funds. And, bank relationships were, at best, haphazard. "It was a bit daunting," he admits. "But I was pretty fired up from the first. It was fun to be able to look at the big picture. I had an opportunity to put a real program in place and implement best practices. There were processes everywhere that could be streamlined and sometimes automated."

No doubt, Paquette's mission was potentially massive: Create an efficient treasury operation where little treasury of any kind existed before. But despite the enormity of the job, Paquette took the plunge, and after five short years, he has not only managed to build an efficient treasury, he has built one that puts many larger multinational counterparts to shame. "REI now has a very progressive, forward-thinking treasury," notes Sean Corrigan, a vice

president and regional sales manager for Wells Fargo, which currently handles 85% of REI's treasury services and deposit business. "Russell is very diligent in looking at what's available that can help REI lower costs and improve operating efficiency. He's always giving us feedback. It has been a very collaborative relationship."

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