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Dude and homey.

Dude and homey.

from l to r: Dawn Coombs, Jim Coombs, and the ellusive "anti-accountant"

from l to r: Dawn Coombs, Jim Coombs, and the allusive “anti-accountant”

This month’s Client Highlight is of our long-time client, Jim Coombs Contracting, Inc.  We have seen their business change greatly over time, and the Coombs have come to heavily rely on our firm to help them wade through the many challenges of how their specialty contracting business has grown over time.

They travel to many states and Mexico installing basketball goals, science lab cabinets, bleachers and clean rooms.  That’s the only type of specialty contracting that they do… and Jim is well knownfor it.  He is a master in his industry and he and his installers are sought after to do this specialty type work more and more.  Dawn runs the company from their headquarters in Easley, SC and interfaces with us on most accounting, financial and tax issues.

They are very dedicated to their business, they are very wary of the changes coming in their business and they are VERYcool (Dawn and I pass iTunes music back and forth often… from rock ‘n roll to rap to blues).  Here is a tattoo picture to prove that point:

Dawn's latest edition...

Dawn's latest edition...

 As with all of our Client Highlights we ask our clients to answer four questions about their business.  Here they are:

What have you or your organization done to remain competitive and successful?  In contracting, integrity and accountability are too often a challenge to acquire for customers in need of a service.  We work in educational and industrial facilities where the dues and demands are high.  We have tried our best to keep prices competitive for the services we provide, but still we are not the least expensive; however we are cost effective. For sixteen years now we have always done what we said we were going to do and when we said we would do it. In times when we couldn’t, we called the customer to make what ever changes were needed.  We have been willing to be inconvenienced within reason to get the job done when required. I feel that due to these few simple principals, we have been a success thus far.

What do you or your organization foresee as the greatest business obstacle in the near future?  We are seeing prices drop as people are becoming out of work. We have seen many purchase orders postponed or cancelled.  Finding a way to maintain a profitable volume to keep our employees working is a challenge right now.

What do you enjoy most about your work?  The people and travel. As a specialty installation service we get into many interesting projects that take us all over the country. Our athletic equipment installations keep us in the southeast. Our industrial laboratory and clean room installations have taken us to the four corners of our great country and into Mexico. We are seeing places and experiencing things we otherwise would not.

What has the Blumer firm done to assist you in furthering your business and its operations?  Mostly, helped us understand our business. For years we have been unsuccessful in finding an accounting firm to help with financial decisions. As a working-in-the-field business owner and manager, sometimes we don’t step back far enough to see the big picture. I believe that the Blumer firm does. The answers we get are not always what we want to hear. But, having experienced NOT heeding to the good advice once given had profound consequences. We now understand the value of the Blumer firm and their ongoing efforts to serve. 

Thanks, Jason M. Blumer

 

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Deb Sofield Opening the First Monday Meeting

Deb Sofield Opening the First Monday Meeting

Deb Sofield has been a great addition to the Blumer & Associates CPA client list.  Her wit and humor lighten up our office when she comes in (especially when she is bringing donuts).  And her abilities to inspire us and the surrounding Greenville area make you wonder why she never ran for political office.  Oh yeah.  Deb has been on the political scene for quite some time.  She was elected to the Greenville City Council and elected to the Commission of Public Works for the Water System (the first woman to ever hold this position).  Anyway, we love to see Deb coming because we know we are going to enjoy the visit.  She just makes you feel good when you hang around her! 
 
Which is what makes her good at her job – an Executive Speech and Presentations Coach.  If you need polishing, Deb is the woman for the job!  From a simple interview to a major award acceptance to the inaugural address, she can make any “Joe” become a blazing ball of speech-induced fire which rains down a wrath of words wrought for memorizing effectiveness upon your feeble ears!  Bow, you fool, to the awesomeness that is “Deb Sofield.”  Just ask Lockheed Martin, or Michelin North America, or the Greenville Hospital System, or Harvard University, or the Yale Women’s Campaign College, or any of her other amazing clients that rely on Deb to help them wade through the difficult world of speech-making (or maybe that’s “speech-giving”).
 
Anyway, if you talk then you need to hire Deb Sofield.  You’ll talk better… we promise.  You can see the 15 pages of awards she has won on her website here:  http://www.debsofield.com/
Deb giving the jokes to open the meeting... a very popular time at the First Monday meetings

Deb giving the jokes to open the meeting... a very popular time at the First Monday meetings

1.  What have you done to remain competitive and successful? 

I speak nationwide and am fortunate that one event always leads to three more. I work at being the best in my business. I have a large private client business and that keeps me constantly working to make sure my coaching is up to date with the current media saturated environment. I do a good bit of work in the area of spokesperson training and media coaching simply because if the client makes a fumble – someone has to pick up the ball and keep going – I help the team pick up the ball. The majority of my work is in training for public speaking and presentation skills, and job interviews. I do a good bit of work with young people who are looking to get into college, law school, or medical school. Interview training is a great investment if your young person is heading out to the job market. And for those who have been kicked around in this job market it is good to polish up your interview skills so you will land the job you desire.

2.  What do you foresee as the greatest business obstacle in the near future?

It is a catch 22 – people say they cannot afford a speech and presentations coach – when in reality if you believe you make an impression within 7-22 sec. you need to understand just how critical that split sec. is when it comes to people viewing you as a successful, intelligent, articulate person. Spending money on yourself is the greatest investment you can make.

That being said, taking care of others always gets in the way of taking care of you. And if truth were told – most people think they are “good enough”. I find that concept interesting – presidents of corporations, politicians, road show guys, sales teams, think they get by because they are the top dog – when in reality (and they know it) most folks who have to listen to them think they are a dud because they do not care enough about the staff or audience to take the time to be excellent. Excellent comes with practice. I know – I know I hear it all the time – “well I just speak off the cuff…” good for you – in your small world to think your audience is not worthy of your best.  I would never hit the stage without a coach.

Another avenue is media – do you have a crisis plan – who will be the company spokesperson, who will assure the public your product is safe, who represents you? If you have not taken the time to create your future – those who hope and wish and pray that you fail will create your future for you. Media is 24/7 – you’re dreaming if you think your day is not coming around the track. Be prepared.

3.  What do you enjoy most about your work?

I am an executive speech and presentations coach and what I can teach you can change the way you are perceived in today’s marketplace. From the minute you walk in to the moment until you walk out – you make a statement. And unfortunately, for many people they don’t even know what they are saying. It’s really more than your clothes (although that is important) its your mannerisms and gestures and twitches and mouth movements and all the little things you should have listened to your mother about but did not and now you are wondering why you are not more successful.

I have the most amazing job that is two fold – you’re speaking ability and your person. With regard to your speaking ability within the first hour I can see someone change right before my eyes. When folks come in with a presentation that must be amazing and their fear is high – many times by restructuring the presentation, adding in stories or one liners or quotes or a great thought for the day – you can take an average presentation/speech/talk and make it interesting and memorable. Now not everyone is a wow type of person but a good coach can polish you and your presentation to a shine in such a way that it does not overshadow the natural you.

You want people to say, “I could have heard him all day…” instead of “he went on all day…” with a sigh. Executive Speech and Presentations coaching helps you craft a message that can be remembered and repeated. I heard a speaker once say; each sentence is worth $30.00 now give me your 3 $10.00 words. What that is saying is without a good speech coach you’re wasting time – the audience’s and frankly your own. Why be average – when you could be great.

On the personal side, the first thing I focus on is the actual person sitting in front of me. How do you look, for so many men – I have to be the barer of bad tidings that they have nose hair, or ear hair, or the back of the neck hair that would scare a small child, or they need a new belt, polished shoes, a new tie (if threads are springing forth at the knot – toss it) or a new suit in a color that blends with their skin tone. For men – many times my initial work focuses on the physical and then we begin the discovery of their verbal and personal power needs.

For women it may be the curve of the eyebrow or a hair color that looks a little more natural with your skin tone.

With women my work does not focus as much on the physical part – but more in the direction of self-esteem and personal power. As women, because we are taught at an early age to be small and petite and pretty…. we lose the nerve to be big, bold, beautiful and articulate.

4.  What has the Blumer firm done to assist you in furthering your business and its operations?

Sitting with Jason and him understanding how my job is in the realm of creative and not 9-5 helped me structure the financials so it is easy input on the computer for my financial files. I travel worldwide and I needed a financial structure that could take advantage of all the legal deductions to keep me in line with my taxes – and I have full confidence in the firm to make sure I am taking care of business…so I can take care of business. I really like the Thriveal blog – it is a good read when I am on the road or just working in my office. Frankly, I like a firm that is technologically savvy to keep up with this ever-changing world. Thanks guys!

Deb Sofield and Jason M. Blumer, CPA (yes, I'm at the The Poinsett Club without a coat and tie on)

Deb Sofield and Jason M. Blumer, CPA

Deb and Jason beat-boxing "America, the Beautiful" for an adoring crowd

Deb and Jason beat-boxing "America, the Beautiful"

The Decorator's Inn, Inc. staff (and Jason who doesn't know anything about drapes)

The Decorator's Inn, Inc. staff (and Jason who doesn't know anything about drapes)

Legend tells of legendary clients whose knowledge of the world of business is the stuff of Legend

It’s time for another post about our [legendary] clients and their awesome abilities to thrive in these bleak business times.  The Decorator’s Inn, Inc. has been designing high-end homes, medical offices, churches and corporations for over 25 years!  Their love for the client and the warmth of the staff make them truly a different kind of design firm.

Kathy Campbell leads this innovative group and has over 30 years of experience in design, construction and project management.  Their firm is truly unique in that they can not only manage the beauty of your project, they manage a full team of subcontractors and construction firms as well.  Kathy reads the blueprints of a construction project as a second language and knows how to apply the right hue to her client’s view (that’s a rhyme!).  

Visit their site and look through some of the awesome projects they have accomplished over their many years in business.

The Designers: Standing, Jamie Rikoff, Jodie Vicars and Kelly Arthur, Sitting is Kathy Campbell

The Designers: Standing, Jamie Rikoff, Jodie Vicars and Kelly Arthur, Sitting is Kathy Campbell

 Here are the four questions we ask every Client Highlight Participant to answer:

1.  What have you or your organization done to remain competitive and successful?

One thing we have done is carved out a niche designing for a lot of Medical facilities over the past several years.  We have partnered with local architects and general contractors over the past couple years and feel that we offer a specialized service to these clients that is unmatched by our competition. The experience we have gained working on these projects gives us a leg up on the competition when it comes time to interview for these big projects. Beyond that, we always strive to give each client a level of service that cannot be matched by big box retailers/corporate chains.

2.  What do you or your organization foresee as the greatest business obstacle in the near future?

Well, we are tied in closely with the construction industry, which has to be one of the hardest hit during this economic disaster.  Acquiring new business will definitely be a challenge based on the lack of construction going on. Also, it will be a challenge to seek repeat business from clients just based on personal priorities. I am sure clients are taking a good look at their spending and determining what expenses are necessary.

3.  What do you enjoy most about your work?

I guess I’d have to say the versatility of being able to use your creative abilities as well as learn as much as you possibly can about the business aspect of your company.  Staying abreast of the latest trends and technology involved in a product and how to portray that to the end user, your client. There are so many aspects to running a successful company that there is definitely never a dull moment. Things are constantly changing and you have to be able to keep up with those changes or you will find yourself lagging behind your competition.  Last of all, I am a service-oriented, nurturing sort of person so this is a win–win situation for our clients and us.

4.  What has the Blumer firm done to assist you in furthering your business and its operations?

Jason and Marc have both been instrumental in the success of The Decorator’s Inn. Beyond the normal tax issues that need to be addressed, the Blumer firm goes above and beyond when it comes to helping us with financial planning, which ensures that we are maximizing our profits. Although not always what you want to hear, Jason and crew will always level with you and always give sound business advice, and for that we are most thankful. 

"There is no charge for awesomeness... or attractiveness!"

"There is no charge for awesomeness... or attractiveness!"

Jason M. Blumer, CPA providing business planning to the Campbells (from l to r: Jim, Wes and Kathy)

Jason M. Blumer, CPA providing business planning to the Campbells (from l to r: Jim, Wes and Kathy)

front-picture

It’s time for another Client Highlight! We’ve gotten a lot of response from these posts. Our clients seem to enjoy seeing the other great clients we serve.

Portland Studios, Inc.is on tap for this month’s post. We’ve not been working with them for too long but have enjoyed getting to know Jamin Micah Jantz, the CEO of the group. His innovation and leadership at the studio are really making this design and illustration firm soar in market presence, efficiency and productivity. We’re glad to know them and show them off to you! (we’re proud of who we serve).

Whether it’s illustration for the book publishing industry, animation or their ever growing abilities in the areas of interactive web, Portland Studios, Inc. is rising to the top of their industry as a leader! Their award-winning illustrators are known to the nation (including the New York publishing industry) and some of the talent on board is truly mind blowing.

See examples of their illustrator’s work here, here, and here. Play some of their interactive web games here, here and here. And see their web design projects here, here and here. Man, they even have an online store where you can buy things: check it out.

Jason M. Blumer, CPA and Jamin Micah Jantz, CEO holding hands

Jason M. Blumer, CPA and Jamin Micah Jantz, CEO holding hands

As we usually do, we asked Jamin to answer four of our questions for our readers. Here they are:

1.  What have you or your organization done to remain competitive and successful?

One unique benefit of operating in the south but working with clients in New York allows us to bill high rates, but generally undercut the competition. We’re focusing a lot of energy right now to expand our client base in order to mitigate the risk of clients dropping off the radar due to financial hardship (which has happened recently). 

Additionally, we’re working to increase current residual income streams to lower our dependence on a constant stream of client work.

2.  What do you or your organization foresee as the greatest business obstacle in the near future?

The current economic situation has definitely affected Portland Studios. We work with a lot of publishers as well as creative agencies. The publishing industry is getting hammered right now and the client’s creative agencies work for are getting their advertising budgets slashed which, in turn, filter down to us.

Additionally, working in a creative environment can be emotionally exhausting as each employee invests so much of himself into each project. It’s a challenge to maintain that energy so that every project reflects the high artistic standards we claim to demand of ourselves.

3.  What do you enjoy most about your work?

Portland Studios is unique. Most of us have known each other for many years prior to Portland starting up. While working with close friends definitely has its own challenges, it allows us to enjoy a relaxed atmosphere while still being productive. The relationships also help us tackle wildly creative and team-based projects. And we’ll periodically play Risk™ over several weeks, 1-2 moves a day. We call it a team-building exercise, but really there’s a lot of false alliances and betrayal. I’m not sure how profitable it really is; but it’s fun.

4.  What has the Blumer firm done to assist you in furthering your business and its operations?

Jason helped us to redo our financial books to capture, process and distill vital information in our firm. In the past, the management team relied on gut feelings or long, manual calculations. Jason’s helped us take a step up from an upstart creative firm to one that can grow and plan for the next decade. 

Discussing the strategy behind PS operations, and how to enhance the flow of information using QuickBooks.

Discussing the strategy behind PS operations, and how to enhance the flow of information using QuickBooks.

Additional work on the details of QuickBooks reporting

Additional work on the details of QuickBooks reporting

Jamin showing Jason how he performs the breast stroke. Huh?

Jamin showing Jason how he performs the breast stroke. Huh?

Dr. Felder and Dr. Randall)

Front: (l to r) Dr. Anderson, Dr. Kennon, Dr. Luther, Dr. Phillips, Back: (l to r) Jason M. Blumer, CPA, Dr. Marshall, Rana M. Sargent, Hospital Manager (not pictured: Dr. Felder and Dr. Randall)

In our recent Tax Season Letter to our clients, we mentioned that we would begin highlighting one of our amazing clients each month.  This month kicks off with the Animal Emergency Clinic in Greenville, SC.  We interviewed Rana M. Sargent, the exceptional Manager of the Hospital with our monthly questions: 

 1. What have you or your organization done to remain competitive and successful?

We work hard on a daily basis to develop and grow our most important asset – our people.  Simultaneously we have worked hard to find the leaders in other industries/fields so that when we must outsource a skill, we have just the right firm supporting us.

 

2. What do you or your organization foresee as the greatest business obstacle in the near future?

 

Given the uncertain state of the economic stability of our nation, we will be challenged to work within the constricted financial boundaries of our clients while continuing to provide a better quality of veterinary medicine.

 

3. What do you enjoy most about your work?

 

Everyone who works at the Animal Emergency Clinic finds great joy in caring for our patients.  We all feel very fortunate that we are able to earn a living by helping to provide quality veterinary emergency and critical care to these animals so that they in turn may continue to positively influence the lives of their human companions and our community as whole.

 

4. What has the Blumer firm done to assist you in furthering your business and it’s operations?

 

The Blumer firm provides excellent accounting services on a daily basis.  They have assisted us in streamlining our chart of accounts, finding the appropriate monthly reports to serve our needs, and have been a great resource for us whenever we have a question.  We truly appreciate the time the firm has spent getting to know the interworkings of veterinary medicine and how our clinic fits into this field.  Most importantly, they use their knowledge, creativity, and forward thinking on a continuous basis to offer suggestions and provide services to allow us to operate more soundly, to grow our business, and to maintain our position at the forefront of our industry.

Jason M. Blumer, CPA teaching the board on financials matters.

Jason M. Blumer, CPA teaching the board on financials matters.

 

chuckle, chuckle, giggle, giggle

chuckle, chuckle, giggle, giggle

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