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  • Friday , 14 August 2020

Saltchuk analyst weighs risks versus rewards

Former collegiate baseball player Jonny Locher found home at Saltchuk.

By Hilary Reeves

Saltchuk Senior Financial Analyst Jonny Locher’s first love wasn’t business – it was baseball.

“My dream since elementary school was to play baseball for Stanford and then play in the MLB,” he said.

He grew up Burien, just south of Seattle, the youngest of three children.

“My brother and sister were quite a bit older than me, so it seemed that everyone in the family played a role in raising and supporting me,” he continued. “I graduated from Highline High School in 2012 and was offered a scholarship to play outfield at Stanford. It was four years of constant challenge on the field and in the classroom. Still, I’m grateful every day for that experience and the relationships I established there.”

Investing in the future

While his dream of playing baseball professionally hadn’t come to fruition, Locher left Stanford in 2016 armed with a degree in economics. He moved back to Washington State and began his career at Cascadia Capital, an investment bank in Seattle.

“I worked primarily with middle-market food and agriculture companies,” he said. “Our core focus was to help privately held and family-owned companies go through a sale process. It was an eye-opening experience to work with non-consumer-facing businesses in a large industry such as Agriculture, and it helped shape my perspective of the economy.”

Locher left Cascadia Capital after almost two years with the company and spent the next seven months traveling and evaluating his next career move.

“I wanted to be in an investment-focused role working for a non-consumer-facing company, and Saltchuk fit that ideal perfectly,” he said. “I joined Saltchuk in January 2019, primarily focused on capital planning and allocation across the organization. It’s been a year of constant learning – there are a lot of high-quality people across the organization to learn from. There are also many opportunities to address challenges and create new solutions within Saltchuk and across the industries we serve. It’s eye-opening to see the level of scale and economic impact Saltchuk companies have on Alaska, Hawaii, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Saltchuk companies play a vital role in the economic infrastructure of these regions.”

Mistakes and failures

Locher said one of many highlights from his first year was co-leading the Saltchuk Finance Development series, which focused on developing the financial modeling and valuation skillsets of finance team members across the entire organization.

“Another favorite memory was working with our summer interns to develop their basic finance knowledge and excel skills,” he said. “They were a fun group to work with, and I enjoyed getting to know them over the summer.”

His greatest challenge so far, he said, is considering the potential impacts of prospective investments.

“We invest in long-lived assets like ships, tugs, planes, and fueling sites in unique geographies and economies. It requires thorough diligence as well as effective communication to collectively understand the potential risks and benefits associated with any prospective investment and to feel confident that we are investing at a favorable valuation. It’s a fun challenge to help tackle.”

Locher said he’s learned a lot from his “mistakes and failures.”

“I think there’s real value in failure,” he said. “I faced a lot of failure in college, and it changed my attitude. I try not to focus so much on outcomes – good or bad. Winning or losing is never defining of a person or team; it’s more about your intention and what you’re striving toward daily. Another thing I’ve learned is the importance of understanding how you’re feeling internally and expressing true feelings because speaking the truth is always empowering to any individual or group.”

Staying connected

Locher said the hours he spent on the baseball diamond as a child and student-athlete have led to a love of being outdoors.

“I still enjoy being active,” he said. “I like to run track and do yoga. I also try to have a book on hand at all times for my morning bus commute.”

Since graduating college, Locher’s been a part of Minds Matter, an organization that supports high school students from low-income backgrounds. He currently serves as the organization’s Senior Enrichment Director

“I’m very grateful for the coaches, teachers, and mentors that have positively impacted my life,” he said. “It means a lot to me to pass along what I’ve learned through mentoring high school students; helping coach Highline’s varsity baseball team has been an enjoyable way to stay connected to baseball. Looking back, my most impactful coaches saw more in me than I saw in myself, and it’s been fun to pass that love and support on to high school students who are striving to be their best.”

Locher said that one of the things that’s surprised him already about his emergent career is how well playing a team sport translates to the business world.

“At the end of the day, I’m on a team of people working to accomplish a collective goal,” he said. “Saltchuk leadership has laid out a vision for the direction of the company. From where we are right now to where we want to be, there is a big gap. In that gap, there will be a lot of learning, team building, and creating new solutions to one day manifest that vision. I believe we can get there.”

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