Own The Promise show

Own The Promise

Summary: At CliftonLarsonAllen, our Promise is to know you and help you. It’s an incredible privilege and an awesome responsibility that guides every decision we make and every relationship we cultivate. These communications help remind us of our strategic focus, prepare us for new and exciting endeavors, and help us sustain our rhythm of business.


 Industry Forward – Jeff Vrieze and Cory Rutledge Talk Career Journey | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 17:47

The CLA Promise offers many opportunities to the CLA family. One such opportunity is Deep Industry Specialization but it doesn’t happen overnight. Hear how one CLA veteran became an expert in an industry that wasn’t part of his original plan and why he encourages all of us to explore unique opportunities in our path to specialization. [00:00:04] Jeff: Welcome, CLA Family, to our Industry Forward podcast designed to tell the industry stories behind the CLA Promise. Many of you are on the path of specialization. Others are just getting started. At CLA, we exist to create opportunities. However, these opportunities may not always be aligned with your current specialization path. Today, we’ll be talking with Cory Rutledge, the MPI of our Senior Living practice. Cory’s 16 years at CLA have not always been spent focused on Senior Living. Listen to Cory’s career journey, including how he evaluated his various opportunities presented to him from an emotional and career perspective and what he did to become specialized along the journey. Cory, welcome to Industry Forward. Could you share some of your highlights of your career journey at CLA? [00:00:59] Cory: Yeah, I’d be happy to. Thanks, Jeff. So I started as a traditional CPA here at CLA about 16 years ago. I started actually doing hospital work. I dabbled in kind of little jobs here and there, but really started my career path in terms of industry specialization in our hospital group, and I spent probably the first seven years of my career serving hospital clients throughout the country and then actually was asked by you, of all people, to change my career path and my industry focus and move to our Senior Living practice which was probably about eight or nine years ago. [00:01:37] Jeff: A lot of information in there, Cory. I want to unpack a few of those comments here as we go today. First of all, I’m just interested. As you think about specialization, you think about whether it’s hospitals or Senior Living or any of the other, but why healthcare? Why did you get involved in healthcare when you started 16 years ago? [00:01:54] Cory: I feel like some people, you know, when they start in an industry, they feel as though they have to have a passion for that industry day one, and I know that there’re some people in our practice that do. You know, I think of some people that I’ve talked to in our manufacturing group that grew up in a manufacturing household, and so they’re drawn to that industry. That is not the case for me. I started in healthcare literally because I was a job fair. I wanted a job that paid me money, and someone said, “Do you want to be in healthcare?” And so my answer was, “Yes.” So I did not have any kind of intrinsic draw to healthcare. I basically just wanted a job with a paycheck. [00:02:29] Jeff: I think many people probably at CLA can resonate around the fact that, “Give me an opportunity. Give me a job, and we can make a great career out of it.” So maybe let’s just dig a little bit deeper in sort of expanding your industry, getting knowledgeable. You spent the first seven years, I believe you mentioned, in the hospital industry, and what were some of the key things you did to drive sort of that industry specialization, the knowledge, the expertise, that as you were early in your career, you know, years one through seven?

 Opportunity Season Starts Today! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 11:13

As we begin a new year with new promises, we want to focus on opportunities that will translate directly into your inspired career, opportunities to better serve our clients, and CLA’s new focus on social responsibility. [00:00:02] Narrator:  Welcome to “Own the Promise,” a CLA podcast created to share what guides every decision we make and every relationship we cultivate. [00:00:15] Denny: Hello, CLA family. This is Denny coming to you at the beginning of 2019. I hope everyone had some great time at the end of 2018 to relax, enjoy some time with your family and friends, and really an opportunity to sit back and hopefully appreciate the incredible great year that CLA had in 2018. [00:00:41] I want to again thank all of you for the efforts that were put in to make this a great firm, and not only great results but really moving the culture of CLA and the CLA family. I also want to look at 2019 and update you on some of the wonderful things that are happening here very soon. Probably within the next day or so you will be receiving — our clients will be receiving and our alumni will be receiving — our CLA Promise Report for 2018. [00:00:54] Really recapping all of the tremendous things that had happened in 2018 and also the look ahead at 2019. Please read that if you would. Watch some of the embedded videos. It’s an opportunity, I think, to get better informed as to what has truly happened within CLA and better prepare all of you to not only speak with your clients but speak with the people in your communities and also our people across the country. [00:01:44] So please take a look at that CLA Promise Report. Also as we enter into January, we are entering into opportunity season. As you know in ‘18 we finished up with the summer at CLA and we headed into the promise season, and now in January of ‘19 we’re headed into our opportunity season. What does that really mean? It’s really an opportunity season — one for all of us, our people — it’s really designed to be a very inspirational season. [00:02:16] It is called opportunity season because we want to reflect on what opportunities could be available for really your inspired careers. You know, every time we have an opportunity to do more for our clients, more service opportunities, that should translate directly into your inspired careers and building opportunities for that. So we hope that that clearly happens during opportunity season. [00:02:43] What about for our clients? Well, what we’re really gonna be looking at in opportunity season for our clients is really an idea that we’re not done serving our client until the opportunity is found. In other words, in every compliance, even if it’s beyond compliance opportunity we have to serve, we’re gonna be looking as where is that opportunity, and have we found that opportunity for our client? [00:03:14] We serve over 150,000 clients, so that’s 150,000 opportunities that we should be creating during this season. And then of course continued focus on our communities, not only through the CLA foundation, which I hope gets kicked off to a very fast start in 2019, but also what we’re going to be doing is kicking off really the start of CLA social responsibility. [00:03:43]

 Industry Forward – Nat Bartholomew and John Tauer talk Associations – Just Scratching the Surface! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 15:19

[00:00:05] Langan: Our promise comes alive when we live our culture, when we are entrepreneurs, owners, and leaders. At the center of the CLA promise is our promise to know you and help you, and especially in pursuing the why, to create opportunities for our clients, our people, and communities. The strategic advantages that support our promise include two we will focus on today; deep industry specialization and being the career building firm. [00:00:31] Our belief is that industry specialization connects us to our clients in a deeper and more meaningful way than a narrow focus on a particular service specialty, and in doing so, it creates more meaningful opportunities for our clients, our people, and even in today’s example, our communities. [00:01:02] Welcome, CLA family, to our Industry Forward podcast, designed to tell the industry stories behind the CLA promise. I’m John Langan, Chief Industry Officer at CLA. What does the life cycle of industry specialization look like and how does it create these opportunities? To help us answer these questions, we’ve invited Nat Bartholomew, our Washington D.C. based National Association Practice leader and John Tauer, our Minneapolis based non-profit based industry leader, to speak to us today. [00:01:32] Both Nat and John have built and led significant association practices over their career that have created opportunities for their clients, their teams, the firm, and themselves. So Nat, let’s start with you. How did you first come to service associations and decide that this would be your primary concentration? [00:01:50] Nat: Well, John, I wish I had a cool answer right out of the blocks, but honestly, it was an opportunity. I took it and I ran with it. One of the managers in our association practice was a member at ASAE and left the firm. And so when that person left, I just picked up their membership and started to go. The idea was, I heard it was cool meetings, it was fun, it was great destinations, and honestly, that’s kind of what took me into this. [00:02:15] But what really happened next was, I had a lot of fun, had a lot of fun doing it, and so I became a specialist in the nonprofit sector and really started looking at associations as really, truly a different group. I wanted to succeed, so bottom line, I attended, I listened, I read, I did everything I could do, you know, just any opportunity to get me in front of associations. You know, when people ask me, they say, “What do you do, Nat? You know, what is it you do?” [00:02:42] And after trying to explain I’m not just an accountant or I can’t do taxes, it’s, you know, I explain, I interpret financial information for the best of the best in every profession and industry under the sun. Last Monday, I was with the board of the National Association of Broadcasters. That means the CEO of TVs and radio stations–the largest media groups in the nation, on the planet. [00:03:05] By Wednesday, I was with the Military Officers Association of America, their board, down in Phoenix, Arizona. I met with admirals and generals. And then that Friday, I was with the CFO of National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. They’ve got 20 related entities. They’ve got two ten-story office buildings in Arlington, 25 billion in three investments, in investment funds,

 Introducing Wisconsin One | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 14:32

Following the recent announcement that Wisconsin-based CPA firm Schenck team members will be joining CLA, Denny Schleper has a short Q&A with Schenck CEO Dan Young. [00:00:02] Narrator: Welcome to “Own the Promise,” a CLA podcast created to share what guides every decision we make and every relationship we cultivate. [00:00:15] Denny: Hello, CLA family. This is Denny coming to you once again in the month of December, getting towards the end of a very, very successful year of 2018. Thank you for everyone within the CLA family for really transforming CLA from what we thought was that very good firm to really that great firm, and having truly a great year thanks to everyone’s efforts within the family. Obviously, as we look into 2019, we’re gonna be looking to say, “How can we become an even greater firm?” And as part of that today, we have some exciting news that was announced last week, and I know everyone within the CLA family is aware that the Schenck CPA firm based out of Wisconsin and with multiple locations in Wisconsin will be joining the CLA family as of January 1st. Today I have with me Dan Young, who’s the CEO of Schenck. Dan and I first met each other back in January of this year, so we’ve worked together for about a year, trying to make sure that bringing these two fine organizations together made sense for not only all of the people, but also the clients that we all serve. So, Dan, welcome to the CLA family, and I’d love for you just to introduce yourself a little bit. [00:01:42] Dan: Sure. Hi, Denny. Happy holidays to you, first of all. Yeah, I’ve been with Schenck for about 35, 38 years, something like that. Grew up in Appleton. Have a lovely wife by the name of Karen. We’ve been married a long time, and that’s another story we can share sometime. But I practiced in the area of—before I took this role as CEO—I practiced in the insurance side of things. I was partner in charge of the Green Bay office and was just recently elected, January, to the role of CEO. And I kinda laugh now that—I tell the folks that this is the shortest tenured CEO president in the history of Schenck. I’ll last one year. Denny: [laughs] Yes. Let’s go back, actually, Dan, to January of this year and as we carry through ’18, I know that a lot of things we had to work through, and whatever we didn’t see eye-to-eye, you eventually convinced me and I caved, right? That’s what happened through the… [00:02:41] Dan: [laughs] I didn’t know that you realized that, but I’m glad you do. [00:02:48] Denny: But we obviously made it through that process. Just share with the CLA family a little bit what, really, you’ve gone through in the last year, somewhat emotionally, probably, but also just some of the major milestones that have brought us to where we are today. [00:03:05] Dan: Well, when we first met, it was at the major firms group, I believe, back in January. And I think two days before I met with you, I had a crown, a dental crown, put in. And then that didn’t work, and then a day before I met you, I had a root canal, so you met me at my worst. I was in a lot of pain the first day, and just trying to survive that. But once we got beyond that, a couple things that we had to do here when I first took the role as president of Schenck. [00:03:35] We wanted to get our deferred comp in line, and we did do that. We acquired a firm in July 1 called Winter, Kloman, Moter, & Repp. It’s a firm in Milwaukee that had about $9 million of revenue, so we closed on that July 1. I believe we started our actual, serious discussions probably sometime in May. So from May until now, we’ve been working diligently together in terms of viewpoints and structure and things like that.

 Industry Forward – Chris Abell | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 18:20

Chris always liked doing audit and tax work for doctors, but she had a revelation when someone asked her if she understood what a physician does and how one gets paid. This led to a monumental mindset shift: She realized she needed to genuinely know these doctors if she truly wanted to help them. Sound familiar? That’s why industry specialization is at the heart of the CLA Promise. And it’s why today our health care specialists include actual health care advice along with financial services. Learn from Chris’s groundbreaking journey in this edition of Industry Forward. [00:00:04] Jeff Vrieze: Chris always liked doing audit and tax work for doctors, but she had a revelation when someone asked her if she understood what a physician does and how one gets paid. This led to a monumental mind shift. She realized she needed to generally know these doctors if she truly wanted to help them. Sound familiar? That’s why industry specialization is at the heart of this CLA promise. And that is why today our health care specialists include actual health care advice along with services. Learn from Chris’s groundbreaking journey in this edition of Industry Forward. MUSIC [00:00:53] Hello, CLA family. Welcome to Industry Forward, a podcast designed to tell the stories behind the CLA promise. When the CLA promise comes alive, we create opportunities and live the culture. A culture that promotes entrepreneurs, owners, leaders. At the center of the CLA promise is our desire and commitment to know you and to help you. Behind the CLA promise are a set of core beliefs. [00:01:25] Two of them drive the strategic advantage of industry specialization, that belief that specialization enables us to know our clients better so that we can help them. A belief in helping versus selling. That’s industry specialization at CLA, a belief that if we specialize, we’ll be able to get to know our clients better and help them more fully. If we do it effectively, we drive growth. Quick reminder, growth is not something we do. Growth is the result of doing the right things. So to help us understand his more, we’ve invited Chris Abell to the microphone. [00:02:03] Chris is the managing principal of our physicians and cleanse group. She’s based in Phoenix, moved from Minneapolis, and has been active in our healthcare group for a great number of years. So, Chris, let’s start with your journey. It’s been one of interest and intrigue. Share a little bit. [00:02:24] Chris: It has been an interesting story, and actually I’ve been with CLA for about 11 years. I started my career over 30 years ago, so for those of you who weren’t even born, I was still doing this. But it started in St. Louis, actually, and I worked at a small firm. I was a generalist, doing mainly tax and audit or assurance work. I had several clients in various industries, such as restaurants and convents and senior living and physician practices. [00:02:55] And then I moved to Minneapolis in 2000 for a various number of reasons, family reasons mainly, and I started at a larger local firm here that worked a lot with physician practices. And that’s where I truly found my passion in physician practices and learned about MinnesotaCare Tax, which was something brand-new to me, coming from Missouri. From there, I had a couple of principals here in the Minneapolis office give me a call one day and said, “Hey, Chris, we’re hearing you’re doing a lot of great things in the physician community. We’d like to talk with you.” And so I had that conversation with them, and they offered me a job, and I actually said no. And a year later, I called them back and I said, “Is that offer still open?” And they said, “Yes, it’s still open, but this is the last time that it’ll be open.” Here in Minneapolis,

 Becoming a Part of CLA Ownership | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 13:15

Narrator: Welcome to “Own the Promise,” a CLA podcast created to share what guides every decision we make and every relationship we cultivate. [00:00:15] Denny: Good morning, CLA, this is Denny coming to you again this month, actually, from St. Paul, Minnesota at the private industries conference. Having a wonderful time. I hope everyone enjoyed the livestream that we conducted. It seemed to go over very well for the firm. I’ve heard great responses. And thank you for everybody’s participation. Not only those that attended, but also those that attended via the livestream itself. [00:00:41] What I thought I would do, because we had the opportunity with people attending, is address something that we never really address too often within the firm in a public way. And that is really individuals throughout the firm that are interested in investing into the firm. In other words, becoming part of the ownership of CLA. We just went through that process and just completed it recently, and I just wanted to share some thoughts with you. But before I do that, I want to introduce everyone that’s at the table with me today that I’d like to have give some input on this issue, the thought process that goes behind it, and just share some of their thoughts. So, before we get started, Jeff. [00:01:26] Jeff: I’m Jeff Servais, and I’m with the Minneapolis office in the private equity industry. [00:01:32] Heidi: I’m Heidi Hillman. I’m the CFO, and I reside in the Minneapolis office. [00:01:38] Nick: Hi, my name is Nick Nielsen. I’m in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and I’m part of the construction group. [00:01:45] Dan: Hello, my name’s Dan Thieret. I’m in the manufacturing industry in St. Louis. [00:01:51] Scott: Scott Engelbrecht. COO of CLA from St. Louis. [00:01:55] Denny: Scott, let’s start with you just because we all know this is a board of directors process. This is not a management issue that somehow management handles. And, traditionally, what has happened is the board has delegated this responsibility to a smaller group. Really, a subcommittee, in effect, of the board of directors. Could you tell us a little bit about how you led that and that process? [00:02:21] Scott: Absolutely. Thank you, Denny. Yeah, the board appointed a nine-member group, which I chair, the evaluation committee, and we really pretty much go through this process year-round. There’s really very little time we take off during the process. But we go through and get connections and collaborations from people around the country– people that have raised their hand and said, “I have interest in investing in CLA; people that have raised their hand by virtue of their industry and service affiliations–and really spent a lot of time with MPOS, MPIS, CIOs, CSOs, and really finding out all about Nick Nielsen or finding out about Dan Thieret or others. And really taking the process to a point of making sure, one, people are educated as to what ownership means in CLA and how that is different in a lot of ways than the principals in CLA and the differences around investment and return on investment and expectations. And we try to bring that all together each year in late summer, early fall to really come to a decision and a recommendation to the board of a group of people that we think deserve an invitation to ownership. And that process is really culminated, again, in the collaboration I talked about earlier, but also, we wanna make sure we’re doing that fiscally responsible, and we really take our ten-year-vision model very much into play as well. So, thanks, Denny. [00:03:49] Denny: Thank you. And we all know, although sometimes we have to be reminded, that the ownership is not part of the career paths of CLA.

 Industry Forward – Don Loberg | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 19:27

[00:00:03] John Langan: When Don was tasked with leading CLA’s Higher Ed practice way back in 1999, we had all of three clients, who quite frankly did not even like the firm. They said we didn’t know their industry, we didn’t know them, and our audit work was purely technical. Don set about changing that, and the rest is, as they say, history. You’ll love his funny and insightful stories about how to build true industry specialization through a commitment to knowing and helping our clients and how in higher ed, it has built a national $20 million practice that continues to provide opportunities for our clients and our people. [00:00:54] John Richter: Welcome, CLA family. This is the next edition of “Industry Forward,” a podcast designed to tell stories behind the CLA promise. The focus of “Industry Forward” is of course industry specialization, one of our core beliefs, strategic advantages, and drivers of our business. Today, I have with me Don Loberg, who leads our higher ed practice. Looking forward to hearing his story. Before we do that, let’s just some quick reminders about industry specialization. [00:01:24] It’s not about doing our work and specializing in the industry; it’s about immersing ourselves in the industry. I know that’s the story you’re gonna hear here, and it’s a belief that if we specialize, we’ll be better equipped to fulfill the CLA promise, create more opportunities, because we’ll know our clients better and naturally help them. So, without further ado, I want to introduce to you Don and allow him to tell his story. Why don’t we just start at the beginning, and why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself? [00:01:54] Don Loberg: Sure. Well, I graduated from the University of Minnesota with an accounting degree. And I started off thinking, you know, going into SEC was the way to go. That’s how you made your money. And when we were in college, that’s what the professors told you. So when I left, I was looking for that firm. I landed at a national firm, and they picked me up. And they did some SEC, but they did pretty much everything. So when I started, I’m tellin’ ya, it was crazy. [00:02:24] In the first year I counted up, I did audits of 15 different industries. Unfortunately, the work that we did just was not good. I mean, I–and I could tell just from what we were doing. Just everybody was doing everything. And unfortunately for me, two years into my career, that firm ceased to exist. Why? They got sued because they didn’t do their job. They didn’t know–they didn’t know the industries. [00:02:52] So I left that firm. I was lucky enough my father was a CPA as well, so I’m a second generation CPA. And he picked me up in a small firm, and he gave me a small taste of what non-profit auditing could be. But I was still doing for-profits and ESOPS and all sorts of things. But I kinda gravitated towards the non-profit world a little bit and enjoyed it. [00:03:16] Flash forward, my father was retiring, and he asked if I wanted to take the firm, and I said, “I’m not ready for this. I’m not partner material.” [00:03:23] John: How many years of experience did you have at that point? [00:03:26] Don: I had five years’ experience. So I’m sitting here with five years’ experience, and my father is saying, “I’ll give you the business.” And I said, “I’m–I’m not ready. I don’t even know if I want to do this my whole life.” And we found LarsonAllen, now a CLA, emerged in. So we merged in, and they asked, “Can you do some for-profit stuff, and can you do some non-profit stuff?” And I said, “Sure, I’ll do my best.

 Firm Security | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 9:51

CEO Denny Schleper, along with CLA leadership, is stepping forward to educate the firm and improve the overall quality of security awareness across the CLA family. Listen to the podcast and hear where we are now and where we want to be in this new era of security awareness. [00:00:03] Narrator: Welcome to “Own The Promise,” a CLA podcast created to share what guides every decision we make and every relationship we cultivate. [00:00:16] Denny: Good morning, CLA family. This is Denny coming to you really in the middle of our promise season. I hope everyone has had a chance to embrace the promise season at a personal level. Obviously, the promise season, as we’ve indicated, is really all about gratitude and service, not only to one another but to our clients, so I hope we’re off to really a great promise season across the firm. We did have an opportunity in the last week or so to conclude the Promise Leadership Series. This is a series, if you’re not familiar with it, that we have around 40 individuals who select to spend a good portion of their summer going through this series, understanding more about leadership within the firm, understanding more about the skillsets that are needed for leadership across the firm, and really an opportunity also to engage themselves into small groups and work on some very important and specific projects around CLA. [00:01:23] If you know any of these individuals, please congratulate them for an incredible summer experience that they had, and also some tremendous work that they accomplished. I know this because I sat in on the final presentation of these projects, and it was incredibly impressive what they all came up with to address some major issues across the firm. [00:01:48] You will hear more about these changes and various projects that they worked on. One, however, that after the presentation left me with a task, and that was around really the security issues in the firm. They really presented this as ‘protecting this house’, protecting the CLA house, and they came up with many great ideas that we will be implementing as we go forward to really increase the overall awareness of security in the firm. I know many of you listening to this probably have a high level of awareness. However, as a CLA firm, CLA family, our awareness of the security issues are really not where it needs to be. [00:02:41] It needs to be elevated, and so one of the tasks that I committed, and I know Hod Dahl as the chief quality officer, also committed to, and that was really to heighten the awareness in every opportunity that we have, and if I could put it into this perspective for you, if you look at the way we address quality in the firm, in everything we do, I believe we’ve elevated the quality. [00:03:10] We see that just simply by the results. That same elevation of quality we have to match with the elevation of our security issues; how we take care of our physical environment around us with important information, secure information; how we deal with our own personal computers; the security of those computers. We’ve had quite a number of what we call lost computers. Now, some of those may be stolen; others are simply misplaced and lost. That’s not taking care of the physical security that’s really afforded to all of us and the responsibility of all of us, and as you know, it goes far beyond the physical security. It goes into the phishing campaigns that you see constantly bombarding us in our daily lives and the test phishing that CLA does with our security group. [00:04:15] We have found that there is an incredible amount of us that are still clicking through the phishing emails and not understanding that that is a major responsibility of all of us, to make sure that that does not happen. One of the statistics given during the PLS project was ...

 Industry Forward – Jack Rybicki | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 16:22

Industry specialization at CLA is the real deal. Listen to this series of inspiring conversations to hear firsthand how it advances our clients’ success, our professionals’ careers, and our firm’s competitive edge. Narrator: It was 2003 and Jack Rybicki was asked to build our Tampa office from the ground up. He had three staffers, a few referral relationships, and zero clients. Today, Tampa is 70 people and $10 million strong and Jack is handing over the reins to head up our real estate industry practice and create exciting new opportunities in the market. Listen to how he used his entrepreneurial grit to achieve great things and what lies ahead for someone whose vision of success knows no limits? [00:00:31] John: Welcome, CLA family, to “Industry Forward,” a podcast designed to tell the stories behind the CLA promise. We exist at CLA to create opportunities. We create opportunities when we live the CLA promise. We promise to know you and help you. Today we’re gonna focus in on the power of the individual entrepreneur and how that individual entrepreneur builds an industry, which leads to sustainable growth. To help us tell that story, we’ve invited Jack Rybicki, our new MP of the real estate group and former MP of the Tampa office to the microphone. Jack has been with the firm in one way, shape, or form for more than 20 years, and during that 20 years, he’s had opportunities to build the Tampa office, lead a group of people, assemble some who came in via merger or acquisition as well as key hirings, and now is taking on a new endeavor. So let’s dive right in. Jack, welcome. Can you tell us just a little bit about your story? [00:01:36] Jack: Sure, John. Yeah, I was fortunate, following a career with Anderson and then a three-year stint as a CFO at an e-commerce company, I was fortunate enough to join Chastang Ferrell at the time, and Les Eiserman and Lori Sims and Larry Chastang took a bet on me that I could come and open up a marketplace for them in Tampa, and so we were able to come over to Tampa with a brand new office, me and just a couple staff people, and grow that business to over $1 million in three years back in 2003. It was an exciting time, it was a, you know–wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, get back into industry or what, and–but the entrepreneurial opportunities to come in and open a new market for a firm that hadn’t been there before were very appealing.  [00:02:33] John: So wait a minute. 12 years of experience, you were hired, we took a chance on you and put you in a brand new office location? How did you feel on the first day?   Jack: It was daunting. I mean, you know, walked into the office, met two staff people I had never met before, and asked them what was going on and what clients we had and learned that there was nothing there at that point, that we had a couple attorney referral relationships, and that was it, and so it was definitely scary.   John: So no clients. Tell us about the first client. Can you remember?   Jack: Yeah, the first client actually was a non-profit, which I really don’t work in very much, but it was the Westshore Alliance. We started networking. That was a business network in the area. We got, you know, heavily involved right out of the gate, and within a month or so, we were able to bring them on as a client for the firm, ’cause they were in a transition period, so just immediately starting to network in the community started paying dividends for us.   John: So by the time you joined–the firm joined CLA, that was 2006.   Jack: Yep.   John: About $1 million, so that was a pretty fast ride to go from no clients to $1 million. How do you manage that period of time? ‘Cause it would have been business development, client service,

 Our CLA Family | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 11:18

Family is often defined as, “People who support and hopefully love you and the people you confide in and trust.” Denny discusses what makes us a CLA Family and asks us to embrace it, continuing to create a supportive environment where we create opportunities for our clients, our people and the communities we live in. Narrator: Welcome to “Own The Promise,” a CLA podcast created to share what guides every decision we make and every relationship we cultivate. [00:00:14] Denny: Hello, CLA family. This is Denny coming to you in September in 2018, obviously at the end of our summer at CLA. I hope all of you enjoyed a wonderful Labor Day weekend, which did officially mark the end of summer. What I plan to do–hopefully, all of you have received an invitation for a live stream that we’re gonna be presenting to the firm on September 11th. This is the first time we are trying to do this in a live session where I will have the opportunity to come to the entire CLA family and really give all of you an update on what I believe is the success of the summer at CLA as well as where we are at year-to-date and also where I think CLA is headed, not only for the rest of 2018, but into 2019. I hope all of you can find the time, be it if you’re in an office, at a client, or at home, to join us for that live stream on September 11th. In over the last probably two months or so, I continuously have had this good feeling, and obviously a good feeling about what has happened within CLA. But I’ve tried to narrow it down a little bit more for myself–where is that good feeling coming from? [00:01:34] And the more I’ve thought about that, I really have come down to this idea of the CLA family. Just as I’ve addressed you today and I do on all of my podcasts, addressing you as the CLA family, I really wanted to dig into that a little bit further if I could. The reality of the CLA family and all of us–and I do believe it’s almost all of us referring to ourselves as the CLA family–it really started back at the end of 2016. I very consciously decided to start calling us the CLA family, but I was a bit apprehensive, to be honest with all of you. I didn’t know if that would come off, somehow, disingenuous. I thought maybe some of you would look at that and say, “I have my own family, and CLA is not it.” I was worried about those types of reactions. [0:02:35] And I have been so incredibly impressed with how all of you have really embraced the true meaning of that family. I even went back and I looked–I always like doing this when I kinda wanna think through why things affect me the way they do, so I go back to some of the meanings, and I look up definitions. If you really just go to the basic meaning of a family, we all know that it can–and CLA is proving this–that it can go beyond blood relation. It’s really defined as “family consists of the people who support and hopefully love you and the people you can confide in and trust.” Simple definition of family. And I think that relates so well to what is happening at CLA and how all of us are really treating one another. But with that family obviously comes certain values that a family has. [00:03:35] Again, if you were just to look this up, you would see things such as a family being honest and trustworthy with one another, being courageous, never giving up, adding value to the world, being patient, taking personal responsibility. And when I see these types of moral values, what I think about is that’s exactly what CLA’s promise is, although we use different language. We talk about being owners. We talk about being leaders. We talk about being entrepreneurial people. We talk about being accountable, and we’ve all heard that definition of being accountable,

 CLA's Industry Forward with John Richter | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 13:53

[START] Narrator: Under Josh Enger’s leadership, CLA’s trucking and transportation practice has grown from under $500,000 to more than 10 million in a decade. Clients in this sector take services for granted. It’s genuine industry knowhow that they crave. In this episode of “Industry Forward,” Josh tells John how he went from T&T newbie to guru and how living the CLA promise made all the difference. [00:00:36] John: The essence of the CLA promise is simple: we promise to know you and to help you. So does it really work? Does industry specialization fulfill the CLA promise, create growth, and build careers? Here today with me is Josh Enger, the leader of trucking and transportation group. It’s a group that experienced some rather remarkable growth. If we go back a little more than ten years, it was perhaps $500,000 in volume. By 2014, it was $4 million in volume, and this year, it likely will top $10 million. Frankly, that’s remarkable. Compounded, that’s got to be approaching 15 or 20% growth over the past decade. A remarkable success story. So Josh, tell us a little bit about the trucking and transportation group–the industry, the players, the offices. Where are we today? [00:01:32] Josh: Well, John, the trucking and transportation group really did start in the Minnesota offices, and as you mentioned, we’re a $10 million group now. We’ve got over 50 people that have some level of contribution or engagement with the industry team, so it’s been a pretty exciting journey, and it really has snowballed for us the last handful of years, and what we found is that the more we understand the industry, the more we’ve been able to grow, help our clients, and really be that industry professional. Also, it has provided career opportunities for our people all across the country, and where we’re at right now is we are focused pretty heavily in the Midwest, but we have other pockets across the country where were seeing some immense amounts of activity, engagement, people are starting to see the value in getting involved with the local industry associations, and that’s been monumental in terms of some of this growth activity that we’re seeing. [00:02:37] John: So what sets us apart? What makes CLA different from other enterprises? Josh: It’s been very apparent that this industry specialization concept is something that most firms might think they do, but they don’t do it the way CLA does. What we’ve heard from our clients is that we truly are entrenched in industry. Our clients look at us as the person to go to, as that first call on whether or not they should be buying new equipment or not and what to expect with freight volumes over the next six months, things of that nature, or what’s the transaction deal flow look like right now for trucking companies, and our engagement with the industry allows us to really give value through those questions, so that’s the differentiator to me, is living and breathing industry every day. [00:03:30] John: And it’s interesting you didn’t talk about tax or audit or any of the other capabilities. Josh: No, no, our clients expect that we’re good at audit and tax and accounting, but the first question they ask when we show up in an event or something like that is, “Well, do you understand trucking? Do you understand aviation?” That’s what they’re looking for. They assume we know the other stuff. John: But it wasn’t always like this. Let’s go back a bit, back to the St. Cloud office, maybe at the beginning of your career. When did you start pursuing trucking and transportation? Josh: It started early for me, and I think it’s different for all the professionals at CLA, but for me, it was right away, and, you know,

 Summer at CLA | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 7:42

This summer, Denny challenges us to focus in on one of our six strategic priorities: create opportunities for our clients. When we do this, we’ll transform from a very, very good firm, to a great firm. And, with our #summeratCLA campaign underway, we make a conscious effort to take time for ourselves, while keeping our commitments to each other, our families, our clients, and our communities. Narrator: Welcome to “Own the Promise,” a CLA podcast created to share what guides every decision we make and every relationship we cultivate. [00:00:02] Denny:  Hello, CLA. Coming to you in the middle of the summer of 2018. Just wanted to be brief this month and give you a quick update really where we’re at as a firm. We finished up the month of May really right on budget year-to-date, and that’s a very good thing because we have projected pretty aggressive organic growth for the firm compared to prior years. And being right on budget with the revenue is credit to all of us at CLA for our ability to seamlessly deliver to our clients, hopefully those opportunities, and create new opportunities for all of us at CLA as well. As we headed into June, I don’t have the final results, but it looks like we’ll miss revenue by about a million and a half, and one of the things that I’ve been communicating to the leaders across CLA is that our past summers really have been summers where I don’t think we’ve taken advantage of the opportunities that we have. [00:01:04] Obviously the opportunities to enjoy ourselves across the country for the summer months, but also to provide some of those opportunities to our people and to our clients. We’ve actually missed our budgeted revenue consistently over the last few years in the summer, and hence that was really the purpose for the summer at CLA, an opportunity for all of us to be a little bit more conscious about how we’re going to spend our summertime, fitting in all the priorities that we have as a firm. [00:01:37] I’m very hopeful as we head into July and August that we’re able to reverse that trend of missing budgets throughout those months. And really it’s not just missing the budgets overall. It’s really back to not creating as many opportunities as we think we should be committing to as a firm and really what we committed to with our priorities for 2018. [00:02:05] We got together about a month ago in St. Louis with the leadership group, and we took a look at our 2018 priorities, and what we found is there’s six priorities. Five of them we felt we were making very good progress on mid-year through ’18. However, the priority of creating opportunities for our clients is where we felt that we’re just falling short. We’re not bringing all those opportunities to our clients, not only with the array of services that CLA has, but when we think about some of the things that are happening even with tax reform yet, this would seem to be a great time of year where we could start running projections, let’s say, for 2018, but running them with the new tax code and the new rates and try to help our clients plan. [00:03:03] Not only for maybe estimate payments this year, but just simply for planning and going forward, what impact the new tax law may have on their businesses, may have on them as individuals. That’s just one example. There’s so many different things we could be bringing along security opportunities, telecom opportunities. We’ve had some big wins in that area again recently. And when you just look at the array of outsourcing opportunities that we could be providing to our clients, wealth advisory, the industry-specific consulting. There’s just so many opportunities that we have within the firm to really produce those opportunities for our clients. We’re very convinced that we have the right six priorities,

 Create Opportunities With Nexia - Own The Promise | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 14:47

While attending the North American and Central American Nexia Conference, Denny sits down with a few of the influencers in Nexia to help us better understand how we can use our relationships within that organization to create opportunities for our clients and our CLA family. Narrator: Welcome to “Own the Promise,” a CLA podcast created to share what guides every decision we make and every relationship we cultivate. [00:00:16] Denny: Hello, CLA family, coming to you this time, actually, from a different part of the world, from Panama. I have a great opportunity this week to be at our North American and Central American Nexia conference, and I’m here today with Jen Leary, all of you know Jen, and Jen actually sits on the board of Nexia representing CLA in that capacity. I also have Kevin Arnold, who’s the CEO, actually, of Nexia International that’s with us today. So appreciate, Kevin, you taking the time to be with us. [00:00:50] Kevin: You’re welcome. [00:00:51] Denny: And I also have Markus Emmrich, who’s actually from Ebner Stolz out of Germany. Markus is actually the chairperson of Nexia, so we have quite a bit of the board of Nexia and the brainpower behind Nexia here with us today, and I just wanted to take the opportunity for the CLA family to really expose you further to what’s happening within Nexia. What is Nexia? Great opportunity, because we have the leaders, really the influencers, of Nexia with us today. And ultimately, what I’d like all of us to do is to understand better how Nexia not only benefits CLA, but it can benefit all the member firms by ways of working together better as we go forward. So, Kevin, if I could first ask you, just from a CEO perspective, when you look at Nexia related to CLA, where do you see the benefit of not only CLA’s participation in Nexia but also Nexia’s benefit from having CLA involved with this organization? [00:01:57] Kevin: I suppose dealing first with CLA’s benefit for being in Nexia, I mean, clearly, the obvious point is that it supports your international business needs. I mean, our proposition is that we have firms around the world who can deliver support to your clients to the same quality that you provide yourself, so I think there’s the business need that drives the whole raison d’etre of the network. And then in terms of the benefit of Nexia International from CLA, well, I mean, there are a number of — there are so many things. I mean, the first point is the sheer scale and size of CLA. CLA is the largest firm in Nexia International. And I regard it in the sense that, I think, a responsibility to act as the big brother to all of the firm. Because leading on from that, Nexia is an organization that is driven by its member firms. We meet the needs of our member firms. And we need the guidance of all our major partners, and certainly in CLA, and I know many of your guys will know this already, but we have a number of committees and boards. [00:03:04] And CLA participate very actively in all of those committees. So in a sense, you directly help shape the strategy of Nexia as well, so there’s benefit both ways, I think. [00:03:15] Denny: Thank you, Kevin. And Markus, for you, you know, you represent a very large firm, obviously, in the Germany area. And so you deal with the same types of issues — the benefit to not only provide to Nexia, but the benefit that your firm receives from participating in Nexia. Maybe some viewpoints from the Ebner Stolz perspective — where is the greatest benefit that you see from participating in Nexia? [00:03:41] Markus: Thank you. I think that, as all firms, we’re driven by our clients and the needs of our clients. And there may be particularity with the German economy that we’ve got a lot of large and mid-sized German market leaders in the in...

 Bobby Dormanesh Talks to Coach Denny Schleper - Own The Promise | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 13:44

The firm is sitting in a good place with growth and financial results. We continue to deliver on our seamless strategy, creating opportunities for our clients. Just as critical is to create opportunities for our people. In this episode, CEO Denny Schleper talks with Bobby Dormanesh, who recently joined CLA in Century City, CA and chose Denny as his coach. Hear Bobby share his background as well as his feedback on the coaching and mentoring process here at CLA. Music up [00:00:03] Narrator: Welcome to “Own the Promise,” a CLA podcast created to share what guides every decision we make and every relationship we cultivate. [00:00:16] Denny: Hello, CLA family. Denny Schleper coming to you in the beautiful month of May. A time when obviously, many people within the firm have gone through a very busy and, hopefully, rewarding reporting and tax season. Hopefully a season where we really accomplished one of our six priorities, and that is creating a ton of opportunities for our clients. And it’s obvious when we look at what where the firm sits as we headed through the first four months of the year, we’re sitting at a very good place with our growth, a very good position with our financial results, and really all the other key indicators that we have in the firm. Things are definitely moving the right direction. [00:01:02] Many of you probably, in the recent past, have also listened to a podcast regarding the chargeable hour goal that we set for March 31st, and even again with those results, I just want to reiterate the firm is in a very good place. We continue to deliver on the seamless services and ultimate result again, hopefully, the why of why we do what we do every day is creating those opportunities for our clients. [00:01:34] So, now as we head into this time of year, what’s really been a big part of my thought process is shifting to another one of our priorities for 2018 and that is creating opportunities for our people. And, as most everyone knows, our whole feedback coaching process is really broken into, kind of, three sections. And the dreaming session that really happens in the winter months, and now this time of year where we really start to look at the overall success that we’re having but we really want to turn it into a season of building. [00:02:20] Building on that dream that all of, hopefully, all of us within the firm set out as individual goals. And then obviously, in the later part of the year in the fall, the celebration of that dreaming and of that building. And so, I thought I would take some time today to actually introduce you to someone that’s been with the firm since January 1st. [00:02:45] And actually joined the firm through the acquisition merger of NSBN and Century City, California, or in the Los Angeles area. And that’s Bobby Dormanesh. Bobby actually is a manager within the firm, and is someone that had asked me to be his coach. And we’ve had a great opportunity so far this year. One, getting to know one another, but secondly, really going through this coaching process, this dreaming process, this building process. And since this is truly on the forefront of my mind, I thought it would be a great opportunity to really get some feedback as to what one of our newer people are going through in this process. So, welcome Bobby. [00:03:35] Bobby: Thank you so much, Denny. I really appreciate the opportunity. And hi to the CLA family, it’s so great to know that everyone will be listening in. No pressure at all, right? A little bit about my background, I did my undergrad at UCLA, where I majored in economics. I finished school in 2009 and that was right after everything, kind of, went downhill. Couldn’t really find a job so I started my own little bookkeeping practice, started posting ads on Craigslist,

 Addressing Harassment in CLA Offices - Own The Promise | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 12:24

At CLA, we promise to know and help our people. While our culture goes hand-in-hand with inclusion in the workplace, we also understand that our people may have found themselves, or may find themselves in the future, facing harassment in the office. CEO Denny Schleper connects with Linda Rubenstein, leader of the Diversity and Inclusion Council, and Pat Bowes, director of People Solutions, to find out what preventative measures the firm is taking in 2018 to prevent harassment, and what steps you should take if you experience treatment that doesn’t align with our culture. [00:00:02] {music up} Narrator: Welcome to “Own the Promise,” a CLA podcast created to share what guides every decision we make and every relationship we cultivate. [00:00:17] Denny: Hello, CLA family. This is Denny Schleper coming to you. I hope everyone’s reporting season, tax season, busy season, or preparation for busy season is going well. I think we are having a phenomenal start to 2018. We have all of the industries doing well today, the service lines doing well, and really the majority of the geographic locations within CLA doing extremely well. I met with the board of directors and the leadership advisory team in Albuquerque, and one of the comments that I had mentioned is, you know, we are really operating probably in very good times, and our goal — probably all of our goals as a CLA family — is to continue to do all the things to keep that moving forward. Obviously, there’ll be outside influences that’ll continue to give us challenges, but we’ll address those challenges. I think they key is to make sure that we aren’t creating our own challenges within CLA, and what I mean by that is that we continue to live the CLA promise, we continue to create opportunities for all of our clients, and creating opportunities for all of us here at CLA. [00:01:36] But obviously, there’s things that always do come to my mind, and there are things that sometimes concern me as to how are we really addressing certain issues within CLA? And one of those lately has been the whole harassment issue within our society that we’ve all heard of, and we’re aware of the many, many stories and the #metoo influences that are in our marketplace today. CPA firms, professional service firms, we’re not immune to this type of thing, and so I just started wondering and concerning myself as to how much of this is happening within CLA. What are we doing, not only as leadership, but all of us, to make sure that we have the type of environment and culture that will really make this the place where everybody wants to be, everyone feels good, everyone feels inclusive, no one feels harassed within CLA, and also, hopefully, in the rare occurrences that it does happen, the firm is able to react in order to keep that environment and culture the way that we want it to be. I’ve asked Pat Bowes, who heads up our people solutions group within the firm, and Linda Rubenstein, who heads up the D&I council, and really have a discussion around this issue within CLA. Pat Bowes, I’d like to start with you and just ask you, Pat, from what you experience across the firm, how prevalent is it that reporting and so forth comes to the HR group, to the people solutions group, really addressing or trying to address some of these issues? [00:03:27] Pat: Thanks, Denny. You know, as you mentioned, we’re obviously observing an issue here that’s societal in nature, and while we’ve got a really strong culture and a culture that we’re all proud of, as a part of that society, this is something that we’re certainly not immune to. However, with the question about how much volume there is internally, I’d have to say that the volume is fairly low around the firm. [00:03:58] Denny: Pat, obviously,


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