Accounting is not an occupation you dream of as a child, but the foundation was forged at an early age as I picked up recycled bottles at $.05 saving up for each Matchbox car. In a time before the big box stores, Perry’s sold Matchbox cars for $1.00 and the tax was $.05. I rode my bike looking for 11 glass bottles that laid in the ditches before I could purchase my next car. Little did I know, the seeds for accounting were being laid.
Monopoly would seem like an odd game to shape someone’s career path, but a cruel joke played by my older sisters surely set the foundation of an auditor. It seems their younger brother had pestered them one too many times at playing Monopoly, so they agreed to play but hatched a plan to conspire against me as the banker and real estate broker. When I passed Go, if I didn’t pay attention the banker didn’t give me my $200 and when I purchased property the title didn’t make it to my hand. It wasn’t until my pewter dog landed on Boardwalk with a red hotel and not a dollar to my name did I learn of my sisters trickery. From that point on I learned to trust, but verify, setting the stage for a career in auditing.
A friend of my father, James Windham, gave me one of the best pieces of advice I ever got and at the most unlikely places a gas pump filling up on the way to the gas pump. Just going to show you never know how you will influence someone, he said to this 12 year old boy, “Get something behind your name, doctor, lawyer, or CPA”. Those words laid dormant for years.
My journey to becoming an Eagle Scout taught me many life lessons that proved invaluable in setting the course and laying the foundation for my career. The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared” and that has been my life plan. Equally I embraced the Scout Law, A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Courteous, Kind, Brave, Clean and Reverent and even after 30 plus years those words still role off the tongue. Now when I attend a City Council meeting and see Boy Scouts in attendance I recall my first meeting at the City of Livingston as I worked on my Citizenship merit badge. Little did I know years later I would serve a vital role in the municipal industry enabling investors to be confident about the financial information being presented resulting in funds for construction of water and sewer plants, roads, and other essential projects.
A career in banking, following the footsteps of my father, was diverted in 1987 the banking industry hit an all-time low. While still classified as junior at Stephen F. Austin State University and with most of my accounting classes still in front of me I passed what was considered to be the hardest portion of the CPA exam. Those two events, combined with foundation set out above, cement my path in accounting and auditing.
It was my great fortune to go to work for Earl C. Lairson straight out of college. Mr. Lairson was chair of the State Board of Public Accountancy and its longest serving member. Mr. Lairson had a diversified accounting practice and I had the opportunity to work on projects from compilations, review, and audits and franchise, payroll, and income tax for a wide variety of industries. From the beginning I enjoyed the problem solving aspect of auditing over tax. It is best likened to working a jigsaw puzzle and requires a variety of approaches to completing the picture and nothing beating putting that last piece in place.
However, from the beginning what drew my interest were the inner workings of governments, from on operational, legal frame work and political standpoint. I worked towards receiving a Certificate of Educational Achievement in Governmental Reporting in Auditing for the AICPA and served on the Government Finance Officers Associations Special Review Committee, for their Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) program. I worked to bring in clients into the firm in the those early years, which have followed me my entire career and have provide the reference to build one of the largest firms in Houston. In 2012 we were ranked the 25th largest firm in Houston. While providing the best service, rather than being the biggest, has always been my goal. It was nice to be included on a list with the largest 8 firms in the world and the rest being in business for over 40 years.
My career went full circle in 2013, when we were able to provide a complimentary office to my mentor Earl Lairson. I am now able to greet him with the same enthusiasm as he did me 25 years ago at 7:45 am with “Good Afternoon!”
The Boy Scout Law and Belt Harris Pechacek
The Boy Scout Law would seem like an unlikely passage to appear when looking at the inner workings of a CPA Firm. The words have been memorized by many scouters over the years and are simple enough “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrift, Brave, Clean and Reverent.” One might argue, “How do these attributes apply to a corporate entity?”, but yet I have embraced them as my guiding principles for our firm as I would rather be heading towards a common lighthouse than simply adrift. Following an excerpt from the Boy Scout handbook defining the Meaning of the Boy Scout Law, I modified to fit our firm and crafted to give each what I believe embodies our team.
We tell the truth. We keep our promises. People can depend on us.
We are true to the public, our professional obligation, clients, our team members, and the people we work with.
We go above and beyond to help.
We are friendly to people of all races and nations, and respect them even when their beliefs and customs are different from our own.
We are polite to everyone regardless of position.
We treat others as we want to be treated.
We follow the rules.
We try to make others happy.
We are efficient with our time and seek to reduce expenses to provide our services at the least possible cost.
We will make the hardest because they are right, regardless of the personal outcome.
We stay above reproach and maintain our professional independence.
We respect positions of the appointed and elect.