When Eric Dey was considering a new opportunity in 2002, he was told it was a “business that was in turnaround mode.” In the years since then, he has not just led a turnaround of the nearly bankrupt company, but built it into a global provider of business payment solutions now known as FleetCor Technologies Inc.
“Our objective was to get in some private equity money and try to consolidate the Fuelman network in the United States,” Dey said.
The original goal was to revitalize the company and then sell it. Dey joined company Chairman and CEO Ron Clarke in the process of acquiring capital to buy back the licenses held by about 25 separate operations.
“We became very successful in consolidating what was the fuel card market at that time,” Dey said. They also discovered other related businesses that could be acquired over that period of time as well, both in the U.S. and other countries, he added.
FleetCor acquired the U.S. assets, as well as businesses in Great Britain and the Czech Republic. Over the next two decades the company made more than 80 acquisitions on the way to becoming a leading player in the payments industry.
“In doing so, we were able to significantly increase the revenue and the profitability of the business,” Dey said. “We saw it was a very attractive space where they had a very high margin potential,” he said.
The business moved from simply processing transactions for third-party licensees to owning the entire marketing relationship with the network. Annual revenues have grown to $2.4 billion and the company processes more than 2.9 billion business transactions per year. The opportunities and the growth has far exceeded the original expectations, according to Dey.
His role in transforming the company earned Dey the Large Public Company CFO award in the 2019 CFO of the Year Awards sponsored by Atlanta Business Chronicle in partnership with the Association for Corporate Growth Atlanta.
“Eric has been a partner and good friend in helping build FleetCor from our humble start into one of the world’s most valuable payment companies,” Clarke said. “He’s led a series of equity and debt raises along the way and built a very effective and long tenured financial team.”
Dey was also instrumental in taking the company public in 2010.
“We were private equity-owned at that point and the private equity guys were looking for an exit,” Dey said.
Instead of selling the business, the time seemed ripe to go public with an IPO.
“We became so valuable over that period of time, we believed that the more prudent approach would be to basically take the company public,” Dey said. “Then we had further visions of consolidating the space around the world.”
The public offering turned out to be the most successful one launched that year. Since then the company's stock price has increased by more than 1,000 percent, according to Dey.
Dey is responsible for a wide range of business functions at FleetCor, including human resources, legal counsel, investor relations, IT, finance, accounting and treasury. In these diverse roles he has displayed an ability to communicate across disciplines.
“He has the ability to take things that are really complex, whether it's the description of a business model or the description of how to account for something and really break it down into its fundamental pieces,” said Alissa Vickery, senior vice president of accounting and controls at FleetCor. “He can translate it back into what I call 'English' for a non-accountant.”
Dey is also credited with finding the right people to do the job.
“Eric has built a terrific multi-disciplinary team across the globe, ensuring that the functions under his leadership … continue to operate seamlessly in supporting FleetCor’s continued growth and expansion,” said Charles Freund, executive vice president for corporate strategy.