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How CFOs Have Fun, Part 2

These finance chiefs, hardly representative of the green-eyeshades stereotype, live their lives to the fullest away from work.

This is the second of two stories spotlighting CFOs and their hobbies.

Paul Blubaugh has been torn between music and business since he was a kid. He started out in college as a business major but quickly switched to guitar performance. But upon receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in that subject, he realized there weren’t a lot paying jobs available in that line of work.

Blubaugh, with guitar, belts one out.

Blubaugh, with guitar, belts one out.

“Why don’t you be an accountant, like Bob?” his sister said, referring to a fellow employed by Blubaugh’s dad, who ran a family business. Click. Paul eventually went for a master’s in accounting, which he earned while playing in a Top 40 band on the side. Today he is the CFO of R.S. Hanline & Co., a produce packager and distributor.

Back then, even as he embarked on a five-year gig in the frenzied world of public accounting, Blubaugh was thinking, “I hope I can become one of those guys who has a day job and plays music on weekends.” He says now, “I realized that if I didn’t start playing guitar again, I wasn’t going to be a very pleasant person to be around.”

So he started playing in a local coffee shop that had open-mic nights every Friday. He learned 30 minutes worth of new music every week. After a few months, he had enough material to play all night. “I asked the owner if I could play by myself on Saturday. He loved it — because I told him he didn’t have to pay me.”

Before long, Blubaugh joined with another coffee-shop denizen to form a duo called “dr. simple.” For the past 16-plus years they’ve been staples of the club and restaurant music scene around north-central Ohio, playing acoustic and sometimes two-part-harmony versions of popular songs from the 1960s to the 1990s.

What place does music hold in Blubaugh’s life? “It doesn’t pay the bills, so obviously my full-time job is important in that respect. And it doesn’t raise my kids — obviously my family life and my wife are very important.”

But, he adds, “Let me put it this way. There is no conflict at home. My wife knows how important this is to me, and my kids are proud of what I do on the side. They don’t brag to their friends that their dad is a CFO.”

Blubaugh is one finance chief who sees a connection between his hobby (that’s what it is, even though dr. simple plays for pay) and his work. “There’s a lot of math in music,” he says, “and there’s a lot of art in accounting.” Not everyone appreciates such insight. “I said that once at lunch with the owner of the company,” Blubaugh says. “He didn’t like that.”

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