When Big Builder caught up with Cory Boydston recently, she'd been in her new post as CFO of Roswell, Ga.-based Ashton Woods for a short three weeks. "But it feels like I've been here 10 years," she said.
And with good reason. Boydston has been a fixture in the Atlanta real estate market for years. In fact, she said ironically enough she interviewed with Ashton Woods CEO Tom Krobot in 1998 for the same CFO position that she ended up taking in late July 2009.
Boydston gained entrée into home building's who's who in 1987 when she became vice president of finance and CFO for Lennar. Following her 11 years with Lennar, she became senior vice president of finance and treasurer for Beazer Homes USA. In 2008, after briefly crossing paths with Ashton Woods alum Bob Salomon, who took over as chief accounting officer for Beazer in early 2008, Boydston left Beazer to become senior vice president and CFO for Starwood Land Ventures, a private equity firm.
Boydston said she had been watching Ashton Woods from her post at Starwood, curious to see whether the company would be able to successfully restructure its debt; with the market's deterioration, the company had gone into default on some of its credit agreements. However, despite some serious credit market constraints, in early 2009, the company negotiated a swap of all $125 million of its senior subordinated notes that carried a 9.5% interest rate and were due in 2015 for 11% senior subordinated notes due the same year but carried no interest charges for the first three years.
"The transaction they got done--that became the gold standard," Boydston said.Although the deal came with a few additional financial strings, the restructuring moved the company onto much firmer financial footing. This weighed heavily in Boydston's decision to take the role of the company's CFO.
"I really saw a very smart company here. It was clear to me that they were going to survive," she said. "It almost feels like a start-up; we have a nice clean sheet to start."