Kay Auer, Chief Financial Officer (Full Bio)
Kay Auer is a unique combination of analytical thinker and creative business builder. As a financial leader whose experience spans entrepreneurial startups to established national enterprises, she balances a holistic business perspective with a detailed understanding of hospitality industry standards and operational best practices. Kay also blends her steady leadership, a Big 4 accounting background, and organizational design and strategy experience with a work ethic handed down in a family of builders and problem solvers.
Among Kay’s strengths is her ability to put the right talent, processes, systems, and performance metrics in place to drive performance. Senior leaders have consistently recognized Kay as a valuable team member who can uncover opportunities for improvement in both growth and transforming environments. Her contributions have earned her various honors, including the Wichita Business Journal’s 2010 CFO Award and 2015 Women in Business Award.
Kay is a Principal of LeximaS where she serves as the firm’s Chief Financial Officer. Since joining LeximaS in 2020, she has led the transformation of the financial and IT systems as well as HR functions. She also adds value as a business infrastructure expert for managed properties for LeximaS.
The trajectory of Kay’s career began at E&Y where she gained valuable experience in financial reporting, tax matters, organizational structuring, and a wide range of business transactions including M&A. Advancing into a Manager role, she advised private and public companies in the restaurant, hospitality, retail, and manufacturing industries.
In 1997, Kay was recruited by one of her clients to join Gates Enterprises, a multibrand franchisee with 24 regional locations, including Pizza Hut and Rent-A-Center businesses. As the Vice President of Finance and Treasurer, she ushered this diversified holding company into a new phase of process discipline, system modernization, and lean transformation. She also served as the finance lead in opening new locations and advancing several new business ventures.
Recruited by the CEO of Value Place in 2007, Kay joined this extended-stay hotel brand as the Chief Financial Officer. During one of the most significant economic downturns in U.S. history, Kay guided her team through a time of transition to effectively manage cash flow and ensure business profitability. Over the next five years, she created a financial structure that supported the brand’s rapid growth from 75 to 179 company-owned and franchise locations nationwide. During her tenure, revenue more than doubled and Value Place was recognized as the nation’s fastest-growing economy extended-stay hotel brand.
From 2012 to 2014, Kay served as the Chief Financial Officer for Quality Solutions, Inc.—a private equity-owned leader in facilities management with blue-chip clients like Verizon and Best Buy. In this role, she strengthened financial reporting, completed the company’s first audit, and implemented an incentive compensation plan to drive performance. QSI was acquired by Cushman & Wakefield.
In 2014, Kay returned to Value Place as a member of the Board of Directors. Over the next year, the leadership team rebranded the 240-hotel company as WoodSpring Suites. Choice Hotels acquired the company in 2017 for $231 million. During the same time, the former Value Place leadership team started a new lodging concept, WaterWalk International LLC—a lodging company with a differentiating hybrid hotel-apartment strategy. As the Chief Financial Officer and an equity partner, Kay put all of the financial and operational systems in place, obtained financing for each deal, and played a vital role in the expansion across four states.
Kay is a cum laude graduate of the University of Iowa, holding a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting. She is the former Board Chair and Finance Committee Member for the Women’s Initiative Network. A licensed CPA in good standing within the state of Kansas, Kay is a member of the Kansas Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.