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15 Accountants We’re Appreciating This Tax Season

Caleb Newquist Editor-at-Large, Gusto 

Accountants have always been trusted advisors to small businesses, and their guidance and counsel are essential to their success. That’s never been more true than this past year. As business owners faced unprecedented obstacles, their accountants were right alongside them in the trenches, helping them navigate ever-changing COVID legislation, secure vital aid, and tackle the most complicated tax season on record.

To help honor the relentless efforts of accountants, we asked business owners if they’d be willing to put pen to paper and show their accountants how much they’re appreciated. The response was overwhelming. Here are just a few of the hundreds of love letters we received recognizing the hard work accountants put in on a daily basis—and how they’ve been instrumental to small businesses’ ability to survive and thrive during the pandemic.

P.S. If you’re a business looking for an accountant, add Gusto’s Partner Directory to your business toolkit!

Brad McKeiver, Dental Partner-in-Charge at Aprio

Nominated by:  Danielle L. Rowland, DDS, PA

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

Brad was incredibly helpful last March when we had to shut down our dental office due to recommendations from the ADA and our governor. He was with us every step of the way in terms of how to keep paying employees, then how to help them enroll for unemployment benefits. He guided me through the PPP loan application and gave me sound advice for everything. He truly wants to help his clients be successful, all while answering emails from me, even at 5 a.m. on a Sunday. I honestly think there can’t be a better accountant!

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

I was desperate to find out how to log in to the North Carolina unemployment site so that I could approve everything for my employees, but I did not have a login. I spent hours on hold trying to get through, only to have a recording hang up on me. I was desperate. The team at Aprio helped me find some key information that enabled me to get through and it saved me hours on the phone, and the staff got their benefits!

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

He’s an early bird, which is great, because so am I. Between 5–6 a.m. is when I can catch up on emails and if I send him a question that early, he’ll usually respond within minutes!

Jon Blaser, Founder at Advisage RVA

Nominated by: Paisley & Jade

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

When the first round of PPP started, my business partner and I were terrified that we would miss the opportunity. I knew I needed Jon’s advice and insight. I sent him an email (after business hours), and he immediately texted me to get us the information and numbers we needed. Thanks to him, we got the application submitted, and I was able to sleep that night! 

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

When he explained to me that “Tax Twitter” was a thing! Once he explained it, it made total sense (I mean, that’s where we all go to get information, why wouldn’t tax pros?!), but I laughed a LOT, and appreciated him explaining it to me!

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

Jon and the Advisage RVA team LOVE technology. They are by far the most innovative and adaptable firm I have ever worked with (and I’ve worked with my fair share). As a millennial, I feel like I am constantly introducing technology, apps, and software to accountants I work with, and it’s the opposite with them!  Instead, they’re always teaching me the latest and greatest technology for my business!

Kristin Antrim, Outsourced Accountant at Trout CPA

Nominated by: The Common Wheel

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

Kristin has been an absolute lifeline during my transition into co-executive leadership! She is always available to answer any question, no matter how big or small. I’m in no way a numbers gal and she always helps me make sense of things, which was especially the case when it came to applying for PPP funding!

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

Kristin is super down to earth, which makes talking to her about something as complicated and nuanced as nonprofit numbers an absolute joy! I’m pretty new to my position, but our first few phone calls (we haven’t actually met in person; thanks, COVID!) felt like chatting with an old friend… who also happened to be tutoring you on how not to make your nonprofit go bankrupt!

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

She’s a young woman in accounting who is kicking major a**. That’s awesome and everyone should know it.

Casey Haynes, Managing Partner at Compass CPA

Nominated by: Invisible Fence of Southern California

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

Casey helped us start up our business in many ways, navigating the complicated legal documents that needed to be filed, choosing accounting and payroll platforms like Gusto, 

and many other things that were overwhelming. Casey is always calm and positive and very patient with us. He helps us understand where our business is each month and what benchmarks to strive for. 

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

Casey was on vacation in a national park, but found an internet signal so that he could help us through a complicated issue we were panicked about. He was so nice about it. 

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

Casey and his team are just so professional, efficient, and kind.

Jorge Leon, Bookkeeper at Figure 8PM

Nominated by: Figure 8PM

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

My accountant is the best! He’s always there to help even when he’s busy with other things. One time, we worked on a project for a new property that was so complicated it was almost funny. We finally got everything figured out so that the accounting came through clean, and no one even knew that there were any issues in the end.

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

Definitely when we had our hot wings challenge and the hot sauce was so spicy that he ate vanilla ice cream out of the tub with his bare hands.

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

He’s great at playing saxophone!

Phil Erickson, Managing Partner at Erickson, Brown & Kloster

Nominated by: Design Rangers

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

We’ve been working with Phil for more than 14 years and I can’t think of a time when he didn’t step up for our business! But my most recent memory is from April 2020. As a small business we were, of course, worried about the effects COVID might have on our ability to pay our employees, retain our clients, get new projects, stay profitable, etc. The first person I reached out to for advice was Phil, and he (of course) responded quickly with care and concern. When news of the PPP loans was released, I also reached out to Phil with questions—and I had a lot of questions! (I’m literally tearing up writing this.) 

My husband and I are really, at the heart of it, just graphic designers. We’ve become “small business owners” slowly over the past 14 years, but there is SO much we don’t know. Having Phil by our side as a trusted partner and mentor from the beginning has meant the world to us.

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

My husband/business co-owner and I aren’t always the best at recognizing and celebrating our hard work and success, so I love it when at the end of our yearly meeting Phil says something like, “You guys should be really proud of yourselves!” or “I’m so impressed with the path you are on.” We leave those meetings with a bounce in our step and a big smile on our faces!

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

We trust Phil with our lives and I think that says a lot about someone who’s technically “just” our accountant. Also, he has a great sense of humor and a smile that lights up a room! He’s incredibly kind and I feel like he sincerely cares about us, our business, and our family.

Carson Taylor, Accounting Manager at The New Primal

Nominated by: The New Primal

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

Carson always goes above and beyond with any request that I have. He’s such a team player, and if he doesn’t know the answer he will find it! Since we do not have an official HR teammate, if there are new accounting-type features that roll out in Gusto he gives the team an overview and is there to support. He answers all my tax and 401(k) questions.

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

Our company hired three people at once, so there were so many moving parts in the hiring process. Carson really stepped up to ensure that everyone had a great onboarding experience!

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

It’s a stereotype that accountants typically aren’t funny, but that does not describe Carson at all! He is the funniest person in our company by far! He loves disc golf, funk music, and he drives a really long Lincoln.

Ronald LeGaux, Senior Accountant at Center for Independent Living

Nominated by: Center for Independent Living

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

When the previous finance administrator left, everything was in a mess—notes were on Post-its instead of the data system and accounts hadn’t been invoiced. It was rough! Ron stepped in to learn and invoice the accounts, kept our organization afloat, and updated our journals. He did this all while working on his online classes to get additional certification. He’s a rockstar!

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

His enthusiasm for holidays. You can always pass by his cubicle for an April Fool’s pun on his cubicle wall, candy for Halloween, or candy canes around Christmas. It’s fun to visit our office accountant!

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

Ron keeps an aquarium and espresso machine at his desk. Cool dude, right?

Marie Lyons, CPA at Forza CPA

Nominated by: The Union Productions

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

We used spreadsheets to create a forecasting model for our cash flow. Marie and her bookkeeping team agreed to work with our (very un-pro) system. Once she learned what we were really looking for, she (without being asked) set us up with a tech stack including Forecast connected to QuickBooks and has built and maintained various Zaps connecting all our platforms together. What accountant even knows about Zapier?! She’s a rockstar and always goes above and beyond.

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

Probably the above.

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

Even in tax season she is quickly responding to my non-tax-related questions that could probably even wait a few days. Again, always over the top.

Nick Dietzen, Principal at CLA

Nominated by: Blender HQ

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

Nick has been a pivotal asset to our business when it comes to decision-making, especially in 2020 with all that we went through with COVID. When PPP info got released, I texted him and he gave me a call immediately to help navigate what it means for our business. He also reached out as soon as the ERC changed this year and helped us claim that credit for the months that we retained employees that weren’t funded by the PPP.

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

I remember when we first started talking about investing in real estate. I had read a book about tax benefits. Turns out he had read the exact same book! We hit it off chatting about how to apply many of those benefits to our business.

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

Nick has always been not only a great CPA for our business, but he has become a good friend and mentor. He is always interested in what we are doing in business and in life. It’s so much more than a transactional relationship.

Dustin Dumars, CPA at Dumars Accounting

Nominated by: Harbor Counseling Services

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

A few weeks ago while I was stressed about a commercial loan, Dustin took 30 minutes out of his day to provide me with support, encouragement, and guidance.

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

When I sent Dustin our projected income, which was a huge increase for us, his pure enthusiasm, joy, and excited use of an expletive made me laugh and feel proud.

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

He is a great cheerleader, business coach, friend, and advisor, in addition to just overseeing my books and providing financial guidance.

Alex Bretthauer, President at FuelCloud

Nominated by: FuelCloud

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

We added our first 401(k) program last year (we’re a startup). Alex did the research and found Guideline that integrated with Gusto. That allowed us to offer a whole new benefit and keep it very easy to manage with our extremely limited accounting team. #scalable

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

Pointing out anytime I find a mistake (it’s rare so I savor those moments).

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

She’s my sister, so I get to make fun of her more than most people can do to their accountants.

Brenda Fuentes, Client Advisor at Bookkeeper360

Nominated by: Keap Candles

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

Brenda always helps us figure out issues from big to small, and throughout the pandemic she has helped fill us in on the latest information about the ever-changing landscape of loans, credits, and more that have impacted our finances.

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

Brenda manages to turn reviewing our monthly books into something I look forward to, where we can focus on what the data means instead of where the data should go. Even when her kitchen was being renovated during COVID-19 and she had to eat takeout for a full month, Brenda still showed up with a big smile to go over our finances! 

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

We’ve never met in real life and have done virtual bookkeeping since before it was trendy.

Michele Etzel, CPA at Bayside Accounting Services

Nominated by: EMC Contracting

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

Michele has been a lifesaver for our small business. We are in our fourth year of operation, and our previous accountant was impossible to get a hold of and totally unresponsive to our needs. Michele stepped up in a major way when PPP loans were first announced and immediately started working day and night to make sure we, as well as all her other clients, had everything we needed to apply quickly and seamlessly. She responded to emails at all hours and I honestly think she didn’t sleep for weeks as she worked as hard as she could to help everyone access these crucial funds.

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

My favorite memory was pre-COVID when we could have social gatherings and she hosted a networking event for our local Chamber of Commerce. You could tell from being there how deeply ingrained and connected she is to our local community and how committed she is to local small businesses. Plus the snacks were delicious!

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

Her office is furnished with furniture her husband made, and it’s beautiful!

Laurie Brandenberger, CPA

Nominated by: DigiCRUSH

Please share a specific moment when your accountant stepped up when your business needed it most.

We realized another provider had messed up payroll, and Laurie figured out a recovery plan and got us back on track. Employees never saw an issue.

What’s your favorite memory from working with them?

When we realized we’re both alike and named ourselves trouble 1 and trouble 2!

What’s one unique thing about your accountant that everyone should know about?

Laurie is always ready to help and does so with a direct approach which we love.

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Updated: June 7, 2021

Caleb Newquist
Caleb Newquist Caleb is Editor-at-Large at Gusto. In 2009, he became the founding editor of Going Concern, the one-of-a-kind voice on the accounting profession, serving in the role for 9 years. Prior to Going Concern, Caleb worked as a CPA for nearly 6 years in New York and Denver. He lives in Denver with his wife, two daughters, and two cats.

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