Meet Death Wish Coffee's chief financial officer

Keith Abatto joins Death Wish as Chief Financial Officer

Death Wish Coffee's official bean counter has 30 years of experience in accounting and finance — and no, he doesn't actually count our coffee beans

Keith Abatto joined the Death Wish team in late 2018 and immediately hit the ground running. His goals include helping us grow as a company, steering us in the right direction as we grow, and to help us win a softball championship this summer. 

We talked to Keith a little more about his job, his family, and more. Read his answers below!

Death Wish is one big, growing family. We're consistently adding new faces to our team, and we want to take time to introduce you to them. To meet the rest of the team, go here

Tell us a little about your background.

I got into accounting/finance by failing and adjusting. I was going to RPI to be an environmental engineer and to play baseball. I realized I was a much better baseball player than an engineering student. I transferred to Siena to study business and within a couple weeks lucked into an accounting job.  A professor with a friend that owned a small CPA firm in Albany connected me to an opportunity to work part-time for that firm. I was the only one that applied for the job!  It was a great group of people at Walquist, Renodin, & Miller that mentored me for 3.5 years. With that lucky start, I decided to stick with accounting.

Public accounting and becoming a CPA was good, but I have definitely enjoyed my time in private industry more.  I learned the most during my 15 years at a manufacturing Company, Environment One Corporation in Niskayuna. I worked my way up from Staff Accountant to VP of Finance and then VP of Operations.  Before joining Death Wish, I spent four years at Horizon Bradco in Schenectady.  Horizon is a Private Equity owned sales and service Company for the supermarket industry. I was mostly focused on acquisitions and integration activities as the CFO and then COO in my last year there.

What are your daily responsibilities as CFO, and what are some of your goals? 

My daily responsibilities as the CFO are all about helping Death Wish grow while being front-sight focused on being as profitable as possible and wisely reinvesting that profit to further propel the business to greatness. I draw on my experience with other growing companies to help steer the ship and analyze the business's past performance looking for ways to learn and change to make us better going forward.  The CFO should be the owner/CEO's partner and trusted advisor, providing information and recommendations that support the vision and mission of the business. The finance/accounting function is a support function that exists to partner with and serve other departments and members of the team.  Some of my goals include:

  • Help the business grow revenue organically 
  • Make my teammates wonder how Death Wish ever functioned without a CFO?
  • Keep a great culture going as we grow and add people
  • Diversify the business enough to be recession and competitor proof
  • Have fun with the team at Death Wish in general.  Win a softball championship!

What do you like to do with your free time? 

I like to spend every possible minute with my family. I have been married to my wife Trish for 23 years, and have a 16-year-old son (Kevin) and a 13-year-old daughter (Sara). We also have a 4-year-old black lab named Homer (he joined us the summer Kevin hit 22 home runs). Kevin plays hockey and baseball and Sara swims and plays softball. Our "free time" revolves around our children's' sports.  In addition to being a fan and an Uber driver for our children, I have also coached football, hockey, and baseball.  I still Assistant Coach Kevin's summer travel baseball team.  When we have "truly free time," we love to travel, ski, hike, kayak, boat (anything outside and active),  go to Yankee games and Union hockey games. 

What’s been your favorite part about joining the Death Wish team? 

Definitely the people, the culture, the warmth.  The team here is incredibly welcoming, warm and fun!  I actually don't mind being one of the oldest employees at Death Wish.  Being around a younger group of people is great.  Being part of a growing/winning team is just awesome.  People in the community think I am way cooler than I really am because I work at Death Wish.

Related: Meet the new faces of Death Wish