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The CPA Sharpshooter

We're resharing a popular post from around this time last year written by GJM Partner Ken Saggese. Ken made some changes to the article, so it is updated as of late December, 2019.

Next month brings my favorite of all our many firm activities, the GJM Pistol Team and our entry in the Winter Pistol League.

Ever since I was 12 and got my first air rifle (similar to the Daisy Red Ryder pictured above) and my Dad started teaching me the basics of marksmanship, I have loved target shooting. Back then, it was usually shooting tin cans off the backyard fence. One time I used a beer bottle instead, but this makes a terrible mess and is not recommended. Eventually I learned a little bit about real target shooting, got a couple of pistols, and now I’m the Equipment Manager and general Sherpa for the firm’s own pistol team.

We’ve been doing this for a while now – this will be the ninth year we’ve fielded a team, and interest and participation in it continue to grow. Team Healthcare won the Grand Interdepartmental Championship last year, edging out Team Audit in a dramatic finale that will doubtless be talked about for years, while individual honors were split between Team Tax (Hannah Nowak winning the regular season) and Team Audit (yours truly winning the championship invitational). All three departments sharing the trophies is an outcome that is a great example to summarize the level of involvement the whole firm has in our team. Last year 32 different shooters joined us at least once, and once again by the end of the season we had to turn people away for lack of available roster spots.

This got me to thinking, why I and so many accountants enjoy target shooting, and why some of us are pretty good at it. In shooting and in accounting there is a mindset of being able to break a problem down into its components. For a seemingly simple process (point and squeeze!), target shooting has a lot of little details to it. “Go and shoot bullseyes” is not too helpful as coaching goes, but helping a new shooter see that there are separate components of a good shot – sight picture, grip, breath, trigger control, consistency, and finally physical conditioning – is a lot like helping a client understand why operations cash flow isn’t what it could be. The golfers at the firm probably feel the same way about breaking down the parts of their swing – but if you’ve ever seen me golf, all I can say is, sorry you had to see that, and I do better with the shooting at saltines than I do swinging at the little white ball. 

One of the concepts we like to emphasize in client discussions is continuous improvement – there is a gap between where you are and where you want to be, and it’s usually not possible to bridge that gap in a single stride. So what do we do? Instead of stressing because of the distance to travel, we break the process into more manageable pieces, tackle them in succession, and strive to be making continuous improvements that will get us there eventually. I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be as a shooter, but in the past year I’ve worked on my grip – mainly just how hard to squeeze the pistol, and doing it consistently shot after shot. My breathing and trigger control are finally reasonably good, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this season goes now that I’ve (hopefully) improved my grip consistency as well. Continuous improvement!

We all excel in different ways and I appreciate the fact that the firm supports our participation in a sport that’s a little outside the norm for an accounting firm. If we’re honest I probably enjoy the coaching these days more than the shooting itself, harking back to when my dad taught me the basics of marksmanship when I was 12. So if your son or daughter starts plinking tin cans or crafts a homemade slingshot, just know that it’s harder to shoot out your eye than the movies would have you believe, and that you may have a future accountant on your hands!

Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Ken Saggese contributed this blog to kick off winter pistol league, in an yearly custom that is quickly becoming an annual tradition. Ken is a partner in the Assurance Department who joined Gilmore Jasion Mahler in 2006. A member of the firm’s Construction and Real Estate Specialist Team, Ken’s area of expertise is affordable housing, though he works with many clients across the construction industry. He is a member of the National Leased Housing Association.

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

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.  

GJM’s Wanderlust Brings Special Gift for Veterans

Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s (GJM) benefit Wanderlust: A Night in Casablanca was successful in its goal to help Flag City Honor Flight send more veterans to Washington, DC. The 2019 event, held November 1 at Findlay’s Marathon Center for the Performing Arts, raised over 95-thousand dollars for the nonprofit. Major sponsors included Ohio Logistics, Huntington Bank and American Interiors. Their generosity and that of all sponsors, and those donating at the event, helped to contribute to the final number of $95,263.71. Auctioneer Trent Farthing helped to grow the total by getting the crowd of about 250 caught up in the bidding excitement during the Wanderlust live auction, and the “fill the flight” call for donations.                               

Flag City Honor Flight is a volunteer-run organization funded solely through donations. Its mission is to send veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the memorials built in their honor. In light of the large amount of money raised at Wanderlust and other fundraisers throughout the year, the organization plans to once again offer two flights and two bus trips in 2020. Flight dates are June 9 and September 22. Bus trips are April 24-27 and October 16-19. Flag City Honor Flight serves veterans from not only the Findlay-Hancock County region, but across the state of Ohio and beyond.

Gilmore Jasion Mahler is proud to support the organization by coordinating and hosting the special event. The firm is grateful to all those who have helped to make this year’s event such a success. GJM has hosted three major fundraisers for Flag City Honor Flight since 2016, raising a total to date of $266,667.11.

Some key Wanderlust 2019 sponsors and donors joined Gilmore Jasion Mahler and Flag City Honor Flight for a check presentation December 11, 2019 at the GJM Findlay office.

Pictured left to right:

Nikki Clement, Laurie Zydonik, Marcia Walton, Deb Wickerham, Bob Weinberg, Kevin Gilmore, Mike Brough, Courtney Haas, Steve Schult, Tracy Kennedy, Chuck Stumpp, Susan Ross Wells, Don Bledsoe.

Those unable to attend Wanderlust: A Night in Casablanca who would like to donate to Flag City Honor Flight can do so anytime at www.flagcityhonorflight.org.

Established in 1996, Gilmore Jasion Mahler, LTD is the largest public accounting firm in the region, with offices in Maumee and Findlay. Locally owned, GJM offers cloud-based accounting services and provides comprehensive financial 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.

Welcome to GJM, Maggie

The GJM family has grown in 2019, with a number of new staff members joining the firm. That includes Tax Associate Maggie Kelly, who spent time at GJM during her internship. Here’s a Q&A that offers you the chance to get to know Maggie a bit better as she settles in at the firm.

Describe your role at GJM – Performing individual, business, and nonprofit returns.

When did you start employment at GJM – September 2019.

Why did you choose the accounting industry – In my freshman year of college, I learned that accounting is the language of business. Since then, I knew accounting would be an important part of my life regardless of what business route I pursued. The more accounting classes I took, the more interested I became in the methodology, problem solving, and interpersonal communication that take place in the field.

Why did you specifically decide that GJM was a good fit for you? The culture was so welcoming, and the people here are excited and positive, even during busy season! This was so different than previous accounting firms I had interacted with, and immediately grabbed my attention.

Are you from the Toledo area originally? If not, where are you from? I am a born and raised Toledoan!

What do you like about living in Northwest Ohio? My family lives here, and most of the people from the Toledo area are really proud of the improvements Toledo has made.

Where did you go to school? The University of Toledo

Would you like to share any info on family, pets, etc.? I have a mini-goldendoodle, Bowie, named after one of my favorite musicians, David Bowie.

How do you like to spend your free time? I like to look for lucky stones and sea glass at Lake Erie whenever I have the time.

Are you involved in any community organizations, do any volunteer work? Is there a particular cause you feel strongly about? If so, why? I volunteer at St. Paul’s Community Center in Toledo which focuses on helping those in need and providing skills and nourishment to those in the Toledo community.

Favorite song or music? I love anything 80s, but my favorite song is Under Pressure by David Bowie.

Favorite book or movie? My favorite movie is 50 First Dates.

What is something people may be surprised to find out about you? I have an identical twin sister, and we are also mirrored twins. That means if we stood in front of eachother it would be like looking in a mirror. For example, one of us is left-handed, the other is right-handed.

Anything else you’d like to add? I’m ecstatic to be back!

Keep Company Financials Safe in the Cloud

Technology has changed the way businesses do just about everything. That includes how they’re handling their financials. Gilmore Jasion Mahler’s Matt Hoverman discusses safe cloud solutions in a recent article featured on the website for the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

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.