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Machuta Makes Numbers Sing
Current revenue and expense figures for
“It’s the normal financial statements. Pay the bills. Budgeting. Do a little bit of long-range planning. A lot of what I do is analyze events before we book them. I also deal with a lot of our third-party contractors,” said Machuta, who has analyzed those events and dealt with contractors for nearly seven years now.
But unlike most finance directors, Machuta often has to account for some highly unusual factors when he crunches his numbers. Things like blinding snowstorms and oppressive heat waves.
“I never thought I’d be in a position as an accountant where I’d constantly be looking at the weather to see if that’s going to affect walk-up sales,” he said.
While the arena turns 10 years old this fall, Machuta just passed his 10-year mark with SMG. Craig Liston, the first SMG general manager here, hired Machuta to work in the accounting department a few months before the arena opened. Three years later, he was promoted to director of finance under current SMG General Manager Rich MacKeigan.
“He has been around since the arena opened, so his historical knowledge has been a great resource to me. Over and above that, he is a great numbers guy. But he also understands this industry, and his rapport and relationship with promoters and agents is exceptional. His feel for what works in this market is very, very strong,” said MacKeigan.
“There are only a couple of people I will go to inquire how they think a show will go, and Chris is one of those go-to guys. He could be running his own building elsewhere, but he has a commitment to
Machuta earned his accounting degree from
“At the convention center, at least we have the base. We know that we’re going to have certain conventions throughout the year. The Showspan shows will all be here and the arts groups will all be in the theater. At the arena, we’ve got the Griffins and the Rampage, so we’ve got a base there,” he said.
“We hope that we’re always going to continue with the 20-some concerts a year [at the arena] that we’ve been able to maintain. There is always that chance that maybe this coming year will be finally the year that we don’t do it. But we hope that doesn’t happen. At the convention center, it’s a lot of short-term stuff.”
The tougher of the two for Machuta to budget each year is
“The convention center has been hard because we kind of had to throw history out the window. We had the history of the old
What Machuta likes best about being SMG director of finance is that very few days are the same for him, a claim that many in the accounting field likely can’t make — including one of his buddies in the business.
“A friend of mine that I went to college with went the public accounting route. A few years ago in early April, working tough hours doing taxes, he called me and asked what I was doing. I told him I was working a concert. Everybody has to work late at times. But he is sitting there in a quiet office doing tax returns and I’ve got a national artist singing in my office building,” he said with a smile.
Machuta was born in
“Mom joined him there and I came about a year-and-a-half later. I was only actually there for about three-and-a-half months before mom came back and dad got discharged.”
Machuta was raised in
Outside of work, Machuta serves as treasurer for the Kent County Parks Foundation, a seven-year-old nonprofit organization that supports the county park system. He is also active in the International Association of Assembly Managers, a worldwide group of professionals who operate arenas, convention centers and auditoriums.
As for his immediate future, Machuta sees himself continuing to try to keep pace with his children, and at the same time, staying in stride with all the events coming into the arena and the convention center.
“Personally, it’s enjoying the kids,” he quickly said of his personal goal.
“Professionally, I still feel like I’m learning all the time. I’m just trying to get my hands around all the things going on at the convention center, and that’s what I do every day. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve conquered my job yet, so I still have got plenty to try to accomplish with what I’m trying to do right now.”