Awards and Recipients

Financial Executives International (FEI) is the premier association for CFO’s and other

senior financial executives in the United States and Canada.

Paul Ainsworth

Cozzini Bros Inc

Paul Ainsworth joined Cozzini Bros as Chief Financial Officer in January 2021. During 2022 he led the finance, accounting, FP&A, Data Science, IT, HR, Routing and Customer Service teams. Thankfully, this was restructured in Q1 2023 and he now leads the finance, accounting, FP&A and data science teams.

Cozzini is the largest knife sharpening business for commercial kitchens in the country. Founded in 1905, Cozzini has grown from a local Chicago business to employ over 830 team members across the continental US.  It has been owned by Birch Hill Equity Partners since 2017.

Since January 2021, Cozzini has more than doubled its customer book, grown its team member base from 509 to 831 employees, all while doubling EBITDA margins. 

Some 2022/23 achievements that Paul is proud of:

  • Hiring and developing a first-class team of empowered business leaders
  • The accounting team has recently migrated the business operations onto new automated platforms with little or no impact on productivity:
    • cash applications platform (High Radius),
    • AP platform (Bill)
    • new credit card processing (Divvy, MerchantE).
  • A Data Science / FP&A team was established and is driving real time dashboard and deep data dives supporting customer acquisition, churn, productivity in the sharpening centers and delivery efficiency.
  • The IT team, supported by Data Science, developed and launched a proprietary driver app that provides real time data on every driver, inventory changes, proof of delivery, invoicing adjustments and service time per stop. Developing this data rich program took only nine months and was done at a fraction of the cost of a third-party software app.
  • The HR team hired over 500 people, integrated 4 acquisitions, trialed an in-vehicle camera safety system and introduced new benefits packages including revised 401(k) and bonus plans for most employees.
  • The Routing team trebled in size in 2022 and successfully deployed Descartes as a static routing tool for all over 50,000 customer deliveries each week.
  • Developing the Cozzini “House” with a clear vision and values statements.
  • Additionally, he has been involved with 10 acquisitions (including the largest competitor in the industry), refinanced Cozzini’s senior debt and led two rounds of equity investment.


Prior to joining Cozzini, Paul was CFO at Continental Materials Corporation (ticker: CUO, now Riverbend Industries), from 2018 to 2020 and part of the leadership team that transformed it from a low-growth mining and construction supply business into a profitable high-growth building products group, ultimately launching a successful public to private bid in 2020 that returned the company control to the founding family.  From 2014 to 2018 he was CFO of Precision Holdings, a Cerberus Equity portfolio company providing precision machining services to the rail, oil and off-highway vehicle industries, where, with the CEO, he restructured operations, doubling EBITDA in a declining market, and co-led the sale to Mill City Capital in December 2017. 

Paul enjoys dynamic change, both personally and professionally.  Paul grew up in the UK and moved to the US in 2000.  He is married to Jules and they have two children at college in the North East. He now enjoys being an empty-nester, playing platform tennis, golf and watching all sports, but especially Formula 1 racing.  He has also volunteered with the Pat Tillman Foundation, coached a variety of junior sports teams, been chair of his local church finance council and was a volunteer firefighter. 

Professionally, he has evolved from scientist to CFO but is always looking to improve and learn.  Paul holds a BS degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Durham University, is a Chartered Accountant, holds Diplomas from the ICAEW (London – Business and Finance Professional Accreditation), Securities Institute (London – Advanced Corporate Finance – national prizewinner) and INSEAD (Fontainebleau, France – Corporate Finance) and is an Executive Scholar at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern (emphasis on Supply Chain and General Management).

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