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GJM’s Mary Jo Pitzen Promoted to Partner

Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s (GJM’s) Mary Jo Pitzen, CPA has been promoted to partner with the firm. Mary Jo has been with GJM for over 12 years. She is a member of the firm’s Construction Specialist Team. Mary Jo provides tax planning, compliance and business advisory services for individuals and all types of businesses in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, construction, healthcare, and professional services.

“This is a very well-earned promotion. Mary Jo provides great client service and has done an excellent job in helping to continue growth in our construction practice,” says GJM Managing Partner Kevin Gilmore.

Mary Jo is a member of the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) Northwest Ohio chapter. She is also a member of the local chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), holding a board position with the organization for the last four years.

A graduate of The University of Toledo, Mary Jo joined GJM upon graduation and has been with the firm ever since.

“I love who I work with, both within the firm and the clients we serve. We have a great group of people at all levels who work well together, share and encourage each other to grow. I love our team-oriented atmosphere.”

Mary Jo is also a graduate of Leadership Toledo and will soon be a graduate of the Partner Development Program (PDP) through the RSM US Alliance. The program offers training to improve leadership skills.

“My biggest take away from PDP is a better understanding of who I am. It will make me a better coach for young people coming up in the firm and allow me to better serve my clients as well.”

Mary Jo lives in Waterville with her husband and 6-year-old son.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. GJM’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.

Tax Partner Steve Schult to Retire

After 21 years with Gilmore Jasion Mahler (GJM), Tax Partner Steve Schult has decided it is time to retire at the end of 2019. Steve works with many different clients, from individuals to family businesses to multi-national companies. Aside from his client service, he is a career advisor to young professionals within the firm and has taken an active role in GJM’s community service efforts. As he prepares to retire, he took some time to reflect on his years of client service and his time at GJM.

What do you like most about the work you do?

Steve: Getting to know and working with clients - and helping them not only save taxes, but also make decisions that are best for their businesses and their families. I have always said that taxes are a piece of your decision, not the whole decision. Being in public accounting my whole career, I also always appreciated the fact that I was working with the best and the brightest.  I learned something every day from not only my other partners, but everyone in the firm.

What made you decide to retire now?

Steve: My wife Diane and I both had some prior health issues.  We are fine now, but it makes you realize that life is short.  It’s time to slow down and smell the roses.  (For you Michigan fans, just FYI, you smell a lot of roses when you go out to the Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl!)

What will you miss the most?

Steve: That’s easy – the daily interactions with clients and the people at GJM.  I am extremely lucky to have worked with so many smart, quality and fun people in my career.  I already know I will struggle with that.

What will you miss the least?

Steve: That’s easy too - Keeping track of time daily and the constant tax deadlines.

Favorite story about helping a client with a tax problem?

Steve: There are actually two stories.

Early in my career I had a 70-year-old client who owed a lot of money on his tax return because he had a large capital gain that was missed in his year-end planning.  I felt it would be best to meet with him to personally review the return.  I called and said I would like to meet him to review his return with him – and he said to meet him at his office on my way in to work the next morning.

After losing sleep that night thinking about the meeting, I met him at his office the next morning.  Upon entering his office, he said “Stevie, you are never going to believe what I got it the mail yesterday when I got home from work.  I applied for tickets to the Masters golf tournament 40 years ago and was informed that I am finally off the waiting list. I now have four tickets to the Masters for the rest of my life!”  Upon asking what I wanted to discuss with him I said, “You owe $25,000 on your tax return”.  He said “Stevie, no problem – I don’t care.  You must not have heard me.  I now have four tickets to the Masters for the rest of my life!”  Timing is everything!  

I also had a large business client who was going through a tough IRS audit.  While most IRS auditors I worked with were pretty reasonable, the agent on this case was very difficult.  Wanting to hopefully resolve a few issues with him, the client and I met with him one day right after he had gotten back from the eye doctor – and he was wearing sunglasses because his pupils were dilated.  Having recently watched some poker tournaments on TV, I semi-jokingly told him it wasn’t fair that he was wearing sunglasses during a negotiation.

After failing to come to an agreement, we requested a meeting with him and his case manager to hopefully resolve our issues.  Upon entering the meeting a few days later, the client team and I were all wearing sunglasses.  The IRS case manager was very amused by this, setting the tone to finally get the issues on the audit resolved.

Favorite memory or story from your time at GJM?

Steve: While there are many, my favorite memory is from our involvement with Flag City Honor Flight.  The night we raised over $125,000 we were all in shock.  Going to Washington DC as a guardian on one of the flights was also a memory I will never forget – and is something I would encourage everyone to do.

What are your plans in retirement?

Steve: Getting in shape; learning to play the guitar; hiking a few times a week in Oak Openings with my two dogs (they keep me walking at a brisk pace); XC-skiing; fly-fishing; learning woodworking from my dad and helping him on the family farm; more time with Diane, (which she may regret) kids and grandkids; getting more active on a few boards; travel; and many more fun adventures that I don’t even know about yet.

Do you have any travel scheduled?

Steve: Yes.  XC-skiing trip in January, visit cousins in Lake Tahoe in February, finally getting to go to Detroit Tigers spring training in Lakeland Florida in March, a trip to hike in the Scottish Highlands this summer, and other trips with kids/grandkids that we haven’t quite finished scheduling yet.

Are you totally disconnecting from GJM or will you be around for client issues, etc.?

Steve: While I don’t want to interfere with other people at GJM developing their own relationships with clients I worked with in the past, I will still be in the Toledo area and will be available as needed.  I want to make sure there is a smooth transition and want to also make sure our clients are being properly served.  I’m sure I could add historical perspective that may be helpful in some situations.   

Will you still stay involved in some GJM events, like the Big Brothers Big Sisters Holiday Party and Flag City Honor Flight?

Steve: If I am not traveling, I would certainly be available to help with the many great causes GJM has supported over the years.

There’s been a lot of change in the accounting industry during your time in the field.  Do you have any advice you’d give to young people pursuing the field now?

Steve: Every industry is constantly changing.  I think the best advice for any young person is pretty easy:  Work hard, communicate, get involved in your community, and show your clients, your family and the people that work with you that you appreciate and care about them.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Steve: As I mentioned before, I know I will miss the constant interactions with clients and the people at GJM.  Those people become part of your family.  I am not leaving the Toledo area.  Now that I will have the time, hopefully people will still occasionally call me for breakfast, lunch, dinner, fishing, etc.  I know Diane will appreciate them getting me out of the house and out of her hair for a while!

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.  

Technology Impact on Business Valuation

Just as with so many industries, technology is transforming the accounting industry. Gilmore Jasion Mahler CPA Jeff Denning works with many different business owners to determine the value of their businesses. He says there’s no question technology and artificial intelligence, or AI, are changing things. The real question, he says, is whether or not those changes are a good thing when it comes to trying to figure out what your business is worth.

Jeff Denning has over three decades experience as a CPA. His expertise is business valuation and forensic accounting.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.  

The 8 Steps of Business Succession Planning

Jeff Denning Business Valuation Gilmore Jasion MahlerIt’s one of those issues that you may feel you don’t have time for because you’re too busy actually running your business. But it’s an important question you need to ask yourself. What are your plans for the business once you’re out of the picture? It’s surprising how few business owners actually know the answer. Statistics show that almost half of family businesses have absolutely no succession plan.

Gilmore Jasion Mahler and Croghan Colonial Bank recently teamed up to present a business succession planning workshop for area business owners. They offered some valuable takeaways including 8 steps to ensure a successful transition to new leadership.

First and foremost, be realistic about how long it will take to sell your business. Croghan’s Paul Wannemacher says the average time to sell a business once it’s listed for sale on the market is 6-11 months. He says one should also factor in 2-3 months to close once an agreement is reached.

“Make sure you’re ready when that prospective buyer does come along,” says Wannemacher. “Create a descriptive listing of the business as well as an overview. Just like when selling your house, you need to think about “curb appeal”. You may need to resurface the parking lot, freshen the landscape or painting to make it look more attractive to a potential buyer.”

Once you’ve tended to that first impression of your business and informed your key management, here are the 8 steps to succession planning:

  1. Get a handle on the marketplace. What’s the climate in your industry, the local economy and the national and international economies? Are there potential buyers out there?  Maybe your family members, managers within the company, maybe competitors?
  2. Pull together a team of advisors. This team should include your CPA, lawyer, wealth advisor and commercial banker.
  3. Get your business ready for transition
  • Review metrics
  • Make sure your records are accurate and up to date

It’s smart to anticipate some challenges along the way as you get your business ready for transition. Some of those challenges could include:

  • Normalizing your income statement
  • Cash flow/debt service history and capacity
  • The condition of your balance sheet
  • Collateral

Who is in the pool of potential buyers?

  1. Get a valuation

Gilmore Jasion Mahler CPA Jeff Denning is an expert in business valuation. He says the first question you need to ask yourself before getting a business valuation is: what are you offering to sell?

“Are you selling all of the transferable assets of your business or a fractional interest or equity share? What about your client and customer relationships? Your contracts? What about your workforce? We’re in the midst of a critical workforce shortage,” says Denning. “Many businesses are interested in acquiring other businesses right now to acquire their workers.”

Another challenge can be landing on an asking price for your business. Denning offers these questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you have a CFO or controller to assist in this process?
  • Do you have an outside CPA with valuation experience?
  • Do you need a business broker to help assess market potential or handle the entire sale process?
  • Do you need a real estate appraiser?
  • Grade your business against other comparable businesses
  • Is the business transferable? Owner-operated? How much risk of retaining customers?
  • Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes- your advisors should help with this perspective
  1. Create a personal financial plan: What amount of sale proceeds do you need to be satisfied? Look at your living expenses, vacations and spending you anticipate, family and charity goals. Don’t discount the emotional toll of finally leaving a business you’ve nurtured and built over the years.
  2. Prepare your family for the transition: The sooner you can let family members in the business know your plans the better. You may consider family wealth transfers through trusts or partnerships.
  3. Work with prospective buyers: Some things to keep in mind as you consider bids: how will loyal managers and employees be treated? Will the new owners continue with the company, improve it, or close it down?

“The buyer may want you to stay for a period of time after the sale. Just be very clear what that continuing role might be and how long will it last,” adds Croghan Bank’s Chris Kelly.Succession Planning Chris Kelly Paul Wannemacher Croghan

  1. Structure and close the sale

“Once you’ve identified a buyer, be aware that the final stretch can be as difficult as all the other steps that led you to this… and maybe more frustrating,” says Croghan’s Paul Wannemacher. “Will the business organization change? Will there be a reorganization? Are non-compete agreements needed?”

And, what type of financing is available?

  • Seller financing (you take on all the risk)
  • Conventional bank financing
  • SBA 7(a)
  • Collateral enhancement
  • Equity investors
  • ESOP

From assessing the marketplace to closing the sale, these eight steps are meant to be a guideline as you contemplate the future of the business you’ve worked so hard to build. While it may seem daunting, many financial experts agree that perhaps the worst thing you can do in regard to succession planning is to do nothing. If you and your financial team can come up with a strategy, you can rest assured that your exit will leave your business and your employees well positioned for future success.

Jeffrey S. Denning, CPA ABV, CFF is a partner with Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD. He has over 30 years of accounting experience, with a focus on providing services as an accredited business appraiser, forensic accountant, litigation consultant, and expert witness.

Chris Kelly is a Vice President and Commercial Loan Officer at Croghan Colonial Bank. He has over 20 years of experience in commercial banking, providing small to medium sized privately held businesses, nonprofits and professional firms with financial solutions.

Paul Wannemacher, CPA, PFS, CFP is a Vice President and Trust Officer at Croghan Trust & Investment Management. He has over 25 years of experience in trust administration, portfolio management, tax & financial planning and business consulting.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The Firm’s professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities

Get to Know One of Our Newest Team Members

Jason Shepherd Gilmore Jasion MahlerWe are pleased to welcome a new member to the GJM family. Enjoy this Q&A with our new risk consulting senior associate Jason Shepherd.

  1. Describe your role at GJM – I am joining Matt Hoverman’s GJM team as a senior associate to help grow our risk consulting practice for the firm. I intend on leveraging my perspective from the internal audit experience I possess to build relationships with our current and future clients. Additionally, I will be handling work ranging from SOX/ITGC’s, Data Privacy & Cyber, and other areas the team pursues in the risk consulting practice.
  2. When did you start employment/will you start at GJM? Monday, August 5, 2019.
  3. Why did you choose the accounting industry? Originally took accounting in high school because a favorite teacher of mine was the teaching the class. Ended up really doing well in it and knew I wanted to pursue a business career in college, so I continued the path of accounting at BGSU.
  4. What do you like best about accounting? The wide range of opportunities in different specializations. I originally had no intentions of being in the IT industry of accounting, but the amount of exposure and great working experiences I have been blessed to be apart of in such a short time has really been exciting.
  5. Are you from the Toledo area originally? If not, where are you from? I grew up in Clyde, OH and spent about 5 years or so in the Bowling Green area. Most of my family is from Bowling Green, Monclova, and Maumee.
  6. What do you like about living in Northwest Ohio? Being back near friends and family is the biggest win for me and my wife. I lived the city life being in Cleveland and metro Detroit for the past few years and there is nothing better than being able to take the back roads home and enjoying the openness.
  7. Anything you’d like to share about your past professional experience? I graduated the Master of Accountancy program at BGSU in 2017 and then started my career within the IT Internal Audit department of Sherwin Williams in downtown Cleveland. I was blessed to be exposed to many great opportunities within that network. At the time my girlfriend was with a big four accounting firm in Detroit, with a home we were renovating together, so I worked at finding a new opportunity in Michigan to relocate and propose. In the Spring of 2018, I accepted a similar role as IT Compliance Analyst within Masco Cabinetry in Ann Arbor, MI. I have spent the past year and a half revising their ITGC framework and Key Report testing, among other things. Fast forward to today, my wife and I got married this past May and are currently in the process of selling our home in Michigan and settling down in this area!
  8. Do you have any pets, hobbies, anything to share about family? My wife and I have two dogs and a cat, all of which are rescues. Hobbies include recreational sports, training with friends, binge watching Friends on repeat before they cancel on Netflix, video games, traveling, and just enjoying the married life!
  9. How do you like to spend your free time? I love to spend a lot of time with my dogs, Thor & Loki. When I’m not with them I love to do anything sports/fitness related. Also, I’m a big moviegoer!
  10. Favorite song or music? Anything 90s is a go to.
  11. Favorite book or movie? I’m a huge comic book/superhero geek, so I have to go with Man of Steel as one of my favorites. Another go to in the comedy genre has to be The Big Lebowski.
  12. Are you involved in any community organizations, do any volunteer work? Currently no, due to relocation. However, I intend on getting involved more with Habitat for Humanity and other volunteer work with our church this coming Fall.
  13. What is something people may be surprised to find out about you? Last May I competed in an MMA caged bout here in Maumee to cross it off my bucket list of things to achieve in life.
  14. Anything else you’d like to add? I’m looking forward to beginning my journey with the firm. I have always known GJM to have a great culture and a very team-oriented environment. It’s a very exciting time here with a lot of growth happening. I feel blessed to be part of such a great organization! 

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD (GJM) is the largest public accounting firm in Northwest Ohio, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting and provides comprehensive services including assurance, business advisory, tax, risk advisory, healthcare management and outsourced accounting. The firm's professionals specialize in industries including construction & real estate, healthcare, manufacturing & distribution and utilities.