Tips and Pitfalls to Avoid with Mike Pine
Randy is joined by Mike Pine, founder of Pine & Company CPAs, to discuss the evolution of Mike’s practice. After cutting his teeth on tax in the Big Four accounting world, Mike started his own practice, which subsequently acquired and merged with another firm. Since then, he has been able to evolve a unique business model with a focus on low employee turnover and high client retention. He explains how he accomplished this, and how flexibility kept him able to respond to the demands of a changing market, especially amidst the upheaval of COVID.
Today, our guest is Mike Pine. Mike is managing member of Pine & Company CPAs, based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He and his firm specialize in accounting, tax planning, tax preparation and consulting in real estate investment vehicles, and their investors—and physicians, which makes up about half of his business, as well as small businesses—consulting with them. Mike, welcome to the show.
Thank you, very glad to be here, Randy. I appreciate the invitation.
Oh, no, it’s great! I’m excited to have this conversation today. I think a lot of people will get a lot of information out of this. As I’ve been telling everybody, as we start the shows, and I don’t know if I’ve said it on air yet, we really have a couple goals when we’re doing these shows: One is we want to have fun. Two is we want to be educational. I think we have some pretty interesting things that I hope we are able to educate people on today. And then three, I need to be prepared—which I’m halfway prepared today! So hopefully this goes well! We’ll see how the conversation goes.
So I wanted to give a little background on your firm, and then maybe, you know, build into how things have gone with your firm, where you’re going, where you’ve been and what you’ve learned along the way. I think we’re kind of going to educate on starting a firm and setting value, setting goals, and see how we get to them.
A little background, and you can correct me where I’m wrong. But you started, I think as a sole practitioner back in 2012. Does that sound right?
That’s correct. I think late 2011, but ’12 is good.
All right. And then in ’14, you merged in with another firm.
Absolutely. So in my sole practitioner-ship, my clients were growing on the accounting services, they wanted more and more bookkeeping. I love tax, I actually have fun with tax. Bookkeeping, and accounting is not my forte, but the market was pulling me there—they needed it. So I went and sought out a bookkeeping / accounting firm that did a lot of accounting, but had a lot of organic opportunity to grow on the tax side.
I did find a firm and they were a great outsourced accounting firm, pretty light on the tax side, and we went ahead and bought that, and merged. I got to get my accounting to accountants that are much better at it than me, and I focused on building the tax practice for a few years.
Nice. Well, you and I are gonna hit it off here because I’m the same issue. I enjoy the tax side, I actually enjoy taxes a lot. Bookkeeping, accounting is not my thing.
It takes a special breed, but the ones who are good at it, and like it, are really good at it.
Yeah, I agree. So ’14, then, that obviously sounds like a great combination, then you’re able to add both services, you both brought something special to the table. But the interesting thing I found, when you did that merger, I was looking back in a blog that you did—I think it was called “Our Vision for a Different Kind of CPA Firm,” where you were kind of setting the stage of where you wanted to go with this firm.
[bctt tweet=”If I’ve learned anything at managing a CPA firm: you better be willing to change your plans and be able to evolve as you figure out all of your ideas weren’t perfect ideas.” username=”TriMerit”]
I don’t know if you want to give us a recap of what that vision was, but I think we can do that, If it’s okay with you, then maybe see how you’ve stuck to that, what things have changed, and we’ll see where we go on that. So give us a little background.
If I’ve learned anything at managing a CPA firm: you better be willing to change your plans and be able to evolve as you figure out all of your ideas weren’t perfect ideas. I started off in Big Four accounting. And then I was in large national accounting and regional accounting for the first 12 years of my career.
I always had thought and you know—when you start off as staff, you know everything, or at least I thought I knew everything—“I just passed my CPA license, I must be a genius! I know everything.” My partners on the other hand, they were so far removed from the process, they didn’t do anything. One thing that drove me crazy, and I really thought it was hurting client service, it was hurting internal morale, and it was just hurting overall profit margin for firms, was the ridiculously high turnover rate.
When I was at PWC, I think it was close to 37%, which means no one stayed for longer than three years. And when the people would leave, then you’d end up paying more for someone new, and it would take them six months to get integrated into the firm. So my big belief—and I was certain this would help—was once we start a firm, let’s not try to run at maxed out capacity. Let’s try to run with excess capacity so we could truly be proactive accountants for our clients, instead of constantly playing catch up.
And additionally, let’s not burn out our staff, and let’s keep attrition as low as possible, because you build up economies of scale, you build up efficiencies, you build up client relationships, and ultimately, I think you have a more profitable firm that way.
So within the first six months, I learned why no one else would do it: The other people that you’re hiring and all the new staff you’re hiring—since you don’t have revenue for them, it comes out of the one place that is available, and that’s the margin that would have been available for partner draws. So I literally lived off my 401(k) for a couple of years, as I tried to build this. I don’t regret it a bit, because we built a very high quality, low attrition practice that our clients loved and really provide a good service. But at some point, you have to start making profit in a firm, and you can’t throw all your money into having an extra capacity.
So we’re still learning how to balance that out. I’ve learned some good lessons about that. And you do have to balance it. I can’t be all gung ho on just having an extra capacity. But again, with extra capacity, you can serve your clients more proactively, and that’s the number one complaint I hear from clients, especially new clients. “My CPAs, I didn’t hear from them until the end of the year, till the first of the year, wanted my tax stuff, and there was never any proactive tax strategies or accounting strategies or business strategies.”
If you’re constantly playing catch up, you can’t offer that to your clients. So that’s how we’ve really tried to differentiate ourselves—we try to run somewhere around 80-85% capacity. When we hit 75, we start looking, and when we hit 85, we get kind of desperate to hire. That’s brought our margins down, probably about a third of what they would normally be, but it’s growing a really good sustainable practice. I think that’s the biggest lesson I learned.
The other big lesson that I thought I knew it all when I started this firm, and I thought I was going to be a great, great leader in the firm, because I knew what I wanted out of a great leader when I was at other firms. But the only good leader I was for—was for people exactly like me. And there’s not a lot like that in accounting firms. So I had to learn to adapt and recognize what my weaknesses are.
Ultimately, it led to, just recently, us merging with some of our favorite clients and good friends of mine who are really good leaders, and they have no CPA background, but they are great and have a lot of background and running hospitality businesses, and in managing lots of people with HR. Once we brought them in—and they’re part of the firm now—we’re just skyrocketing. Our growth is going so fast, I have whiplash right now.
That’s a good problem to have! That’s nice. So this is a merger that just recently happened?
Yeah, so it just recently happened, I think four months ago. But I was utilizing them kind of as a as free board of directors for about six months before then.
And then they fully integrated in the firm, or is this separate entities, or how’s that working?
They really kind of serve as a board of directors, so they’re not integrated in the firm, they’re not CPAs. In Texas law, they can only own a minority interest in the firm—we have it set that way. But we use them daily. I also hired a managing director to handle the day-to-day business operations, who is a CPA, and our Managing Director calls one of these people, especially the HR expert, at least once a day—more like three or four times a day. I typically have conversations with them a couple of times a day as well, and we’re just leveraging off of their strength.
Our team—we just did a week long Kaizen, which is not normal for a small firm like ours, but we did it and it was the best thing we could have done. It was a great experience, because our team now is truly acting as a team, and they’re trying to help each other out. I know, every firm kind of says that. I would have said that we were doing that years ago. But now that I see the difference, a lot of that’s because of the new HR capital we brought in through the merger, and how they’re helping lead the firm and they’re much better leaders than I am.
I actually say the same thing with our business that once we figured out that my role was not best suited for managing people, we started to grow a lot more. Now I’m just out talking to people and meeting with people and doing education. I’m a lot happier, and the firm’s a lot happier. So growing within the firm and learning your weaknesses, like you said is very important.
So a couple things I want to talk about then, that you brought up. One is the—and I read this on your website as well, maybe in that same blog—that your goal is to have kind of a full circle service within a client, meaning that the person that’s doing the bookkeeping is also involved with the tax, but then you do have specialists involved that are doing the final review. Is that a part that has stayed as planned?
It’s a part that we struggled with from the beginning. I think as you and I talked about, before we started this recording, I think—in general accounts are either really good at tax and don’t like bookkeeping, or really good at accounting and bookkeeping, but don’t like tax. I really believe the clients get a much better full circle service if you have the same people doing the tax work and the accounting work.
So we tried for a few years teaching accountants how to do tax; they were miserable. We tried teaching the tax people how to do the accounting; they were miserable. So that kind of fell off of our radar for a couple of years. The last couple years, though, we’ve been trying to reintegrate it, and what we’re doing, instead of having the accounting person doing the tax, we have the accounting person and the tax person working together throughout the year. So they’re actually collaborating, and when the accounting journal entries are being done, and reconciliations are being done, the tax staff or senior associate or even manager in some cases, are working with the accounting team to say, “Hey, this is what we would like to see. And this is what it would be more tax optimal.”
It’s working better. We still have the issue where our clients want to know, “Who’s the one person I call? If I have an accounting question, I have to call someone different from tax?” Or, trying to fix that and give each client one lead person the call, and they might not know the answer, but at least the client can call the person, guess the question, and the question eventually gets answered.
Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense, that one point of contact. At least, like you just mentioned, makes it less confusing for the client.
Again, I told you—we’re gonna hit off. We’re kind of implementing the same type of thing as well, so we’re going down the same path, I think, as you, with that.
So let’s talk about then: I was gonna ask if you did do that full circle with one person doing things, then you had to probably be hiring people that were not Big Four probably, because they’re going to be specializing. You were probably hiring people that are coming from smaller regional firms. Is that how it was going?
That’s how it was going, and we still have one person that can still “pinch hit” for both accounting and tax. He’s actually a tax senior now—he’s just promoted. But he can do the accounting just as well, and he’s one of those rare breeds that loves both, so he’s happy to do both.
But yeah, we had to hire him from a small firm and and train him on on both of the areas. We’ve missed the Big Four type people, when we were trying that process, because Big Four bring a lot of experience from using the leverage model in an accounting firm, and also the training model. They’ve learned how to train as they’re doing the work, where you bring people out of small companies, and potentially, most likely, they don’t have that experience. So now we’re trying to hire people at least half/half—to get some Big Four people, get some small people, and let them learn and grow each other.
I like that a lot. How about—I’m calling back to your vision statement here—flexibility within work schedules. Is that something you’ve been able to continue to do and work around? Or has that evolved as well?
No, it is something that we continue to allocate great resources to. It’s not that easy. But the cool thing, and thank God we did this before COVID—we put everyone in the cloud about two years ago. There’s nothing on our server, you don’t have to be in any network, everything is cloud-based. And we allow people—look, their work needs to get done. When we have meetings with clients, they’re going to have to come in during that time. But otherwise, we don’t care when our staff works. They work from home most of the time—now they work from home all the time.
They do the work when it works for them, they can balance their family life—that’s important for us to give the ability for our staff to balance family life. That should be more important than the job. So we still kept it. It comes at some cost, because when you want to have a meeting at one o’clock during the afternoon, and you’ve got one of your key people that are taking their children to some event and won’t be back till three, it makes it more difficult, but it also makes our staff a lot happier. And I think it makes us more sustainable in the long run.
I agree. How about from just retention of employees, you found that to be a positive?
A huge positive.
Yeah, I would assume that as well. I hear that more and more. We did a podcast early on in the life of The Unique CPA with a CPA that was you know, 15 person firm, something like that, and they were all remote. They didn’t even have an office space, and they were all flexible schedules, and he kind of said the same thing with retention. And then just employees. You know, if you probably did a poll of everybody’s happiness with the firm, I’m assuming that that creates a nice working environment.
It does. Now I’m jealous of the person who didn’t have an office, because now we have an office that we’re paying monthly leases for, that we can’t use and aren’t using. So whoever was the genius to not have an office in the first part, I wish I had their foresight!
Well, you know what, I’m hearing when we come out of this, it is going more that way. I mean, I heard, oh, what was it—it was some big company, I can’t think of the name and I probably shouldn’t say the name, but some big company now—it wasn’t a CPA firm—that is looking to reduce their lease commitments by 50%. And you know, more people working at home. My concern is that, that very well could affect the real estate market as well, which is one of your expertise. Are you seeing anything like that and real estate being an issue?
Absolutely. Both with our small business clients and with our commercial real estate operators, I think it’s gonna be a tough road ahead for commercial real estate. There’s just, even if we all as business owners wanted to get people back in the office and wanted to go back like it was pre-COVID, I don’t think our team would let us do it. They’ve learned—this new love affair, being able to work from home—I guess it’s a love/hate affair, right? So they’ve loved it. But I think it’s gonna be more something like half/half. I think we’ll maybe need half the capacity we used to have.
Yep, I think you’re probably right. And let’s let’s segue into that then. Because 50% of your business is to different specialties, real estate and investments and investors and then physicians. So was that one of the goals originally—to be a specialist and to have a niche practice? Or is that just how it evolved?
That’s how it evolved, I thought—and I was scared of having a niche, because my book of business was so general, and so all over the place, I thought I would be alienating prospects and existing clients if I picked a niche—but with having my training wheels in partnership taxation, it was just a natural fit that I started working a lot more with real estate tax and becoming more of an expert in it. So the clients were needing it, I was getting in more of the clients from the real estate sector, and I was enjoying it. So eventually, I gave up that fear, and we’ve decided, and now we have two niches, and one general. Our niches are physicians, and their practices, both on the accounting and tax side, and real estate investment vehicles and their investors as well.
But yeah, on the commercial side, thankfully—and I feel really bad for the people who were in commercial real estate, because it was a great industry to be in until recently, and I don’t know how long it’s gonna take for them to recover—but the people who I thought, and always thought it was a more conservative model to go into multifamily residential, because you’re insulated from huge economic swings to a certain point. When the market goes down, when housing bubble pops when people lose their jobs, they move out of houses, but they still need a place to live. So surprisingly, our best-serving sector in our client base is the multifamily housing. They’re keeping 96 97% occupancy, and collecting most of that as well. They’re doing very well. It’s almost like COVID hadn’t impacted them at all.
The ones that are in the office space, they’re still on their long term leases, but those are going to start, I think, rolling over this summer, and that’s when I think we’ll see the pain for them. We’re trying to get a lot of clients that are in that sector to prepare for the cash flow crunch that they’re likely to see.
And that’s one of your goals as an advisor, is not just be a reporter of taxes and a reporter of accounting. You’re out there, proactively working with these clients, like you just said, to get them prepared for what’s coming. And that I’m assuming was a goal from day one as well, right?
Yes, it was one thing that I really didn’t like about my practice at the larger firms. And when I was there—again, we were always playing catch up, we would sell ourselves as advisors and trusted partners, but we never had the time to actually call the client, see what’s going on during the year, and add our expertise to it. We never had time to sit and call your list and say, “Hey, this is what’s happening.” Like with commercial real estate. “Who should we call? What do we tell them? And how do we figure out a solution for them?”
So yeah, that was always one of my hopes with the firm, and I can’t say were perfect at it. We still have tax season, right, Randy?
We’re not very proactive once February 1st starts, until about April 15th, but during the rest of the year, we’ve been able to do it. And I think it adds a lot of value to our clients—more value than the tax compliance or accounting compliance, I think.
[bctt tweet=”We’re trying to get a lot of clients that are in (commercial real estate) to prepare for the cash flow crunch that they’re likely to see.” username=”TriMerit”]
Yeah, and I’m assuming that that is translated into a pretty high retention rate with your client base as well.
Yeah, very high retention rate.
That’s awesome. Congratulations on that.
Thank you. We’re blessed.
Just one question based on that—you know, you do call yourselves a CPA firm. I’ve seen a lot of firms changing that to “an advisory firm.” And it sounds like that’s a lot of what you’re doing. Have you ever considered that? Is that something that’s come into mind?
It’s something I’ve thought of, and I think I need to think about it more because as a CPA firm, we have a lot of limitations. But one of the ways we’ve gotten out of it is we do not offer financial statement reviews or financial statement audits. So we’re able to—we don’t have to be independent of our clients, we can be their partners.
So I’m biased. I’m a CPA. I think CPAs have a very, very strong impact in the business community. And I like being a CPA. And I also want to make good and help build up the reputation for CPAs.
Okay, well, I’ll give you one friend that I’ve—actually the managing partner was on on the podcast as well—they call themselves a “CPA-led advisory firm.” So you can have CPA in the name. So I’m not saying change your name, your name is great! “Pine and Company CPAs.” I just wondered if you considered it, just because that seems to be a key aspect with what you do with the business, is not just be a reporter of what happens, but rather an advisor of affecting what’s going to happen.
So very interesting idea Randy. Something I’ll put a lot of thought into.
[bctt tweet=”The market is changing. Clients want flat fee, they want predictable value. And if you can do fixed fee and improve your efficiencies, it can be more profitable.” username=”TriMerit”]
So I think one last topic I want to touch on—and this has been great. You know, I’m very fortunate I have people reaching out that have listened to this, and I know a lot of them have been more startup firms as well. So I think this has been great advice, and great experience for them to know, “Okay, this is this is what someone’s lived through, and this is where they’re going.”
The one thing that you and I talked about before we started recording, was billing, because there’s a lot of aspects to billing right now that I think are changing in general. There is more leaning towards a couple of things—going away from hourly, going towards value, or going towards fixed-fee. Is that something that has changed or been affected by the last six years of you learning what you need to do in that aspect?
Yes, there’s been a basically a U-curve. We started off trying to be all flat fee—billing clients on a monthly retainer for tax and accounting. As I was improving the quality, and bringing in more expensive and experienced staff, we were losing more money on that. We maybe lost, probably on over a third of our clients, lost margin—were negative in the margin areas—and I couldn’t figure out how to do the flat fee pricing.
So we kept some legacy clients on it, but I made the U-turn and started just billing by hours, because that’s what I was comfortable with. That’s what I knew. And that’s been working. That being said, like you said, the market is changing. Clients want flat fee, they want predictable value. And if you can do fixed fee and improve your efficiencies, it can be more profitable. I mean, I read the same publications you do and everyone’s moving towards fixed fee.
So this year, we’re rolling out—we were lucky to get a very good accountant who has done fixed fee pricing and modeling at other large firms, and she’s actually built a very good model that considers complexity scores for our accounting clients, and we’re moving 100% fixed fee on our accounting site next year. We’re starting in 2021.
On the tax side, I know we’ve got to get there. The market’s demanding you get there. And when I do my sales calls and business development calls, that’s the hardest hurdle I have to get over, is the uncertainty of what our price is. So I know we’re going to get there. We’re going to try to roll it out and kind of beta test some tax clients this tax season, and I hope—and it’s I think an aggressive goal, but by the end of the year—to be fully fixed fee, except on project-based stuff.
All right, yes, I can definitely see that happening. And we hear about that all the time, and I agree it’s probably something that is going. I originally heard this 20 years ago with a firm that I was with in this area, that basically had—and I might be exaggerating, it maybe was 15 years ago—but they had a time card burning party. Just going all to you know, I think they were calling it “value-based billing” at that point, but it was probably fixed fee / value-based billing. And I agree it is probably going there.
So this has been great. Just before we pivot into a couple other questions, any last advice you’d give anybody that’s, you know, six years behind you in this startup phase of an accounting firm?
God, there’s so many lessons I’ve learned the hard way. I think one of the biggest ones is if you’re going to acquire a company and to kind of get a boost in your growth model—which it helps—until you have a certain client base and a certain number of staff, you can’t grow well, because it’s just you doing it, and you really need an infrastructure, and the quickest way to do that is to buy another firm.
If you do do that, and I’m not saying it’s the only way to do it—I’ve seen a lot of people do it organically from the beginning—but if you do acquire a firm early on, make sure you understand everything about that firm that you can. Really do due diligence. Get there, work in there and understand the ups and downs, the values and the lack of values in certain areas of doing that.
I did not do that so well. I wasn’t as wide eyed as I should have been, I was just excited and ready to move. So do your due diligence as an accountant like we do for our clients—do it yourself. Don’t just dive right in.
And yeah, be ready to change. Learn the hard lessons, learn what your what you’re bad at. Everyone knows what they’re good at, or usually you know what you’re good at. But learn what you’re bad at and find people—whether it’s partners or team members—find people that are good in your weak spots that they can pick up for you. That’s a hard lesson for me to learn. It’s taken a while, but now that I’ve learned it, and we’re mitigating it, wow, things are so much better at the firm.
That’s great advice. All right. Well, thanks for that.
I want to ask, so we normally do a fun fact question at the end of the interview, which I think we are going to do, but in case your fun fact, is not the charity work that I’ve read that you’ve been doing—I really want to ask about that—and I know some of it got sidetracked with COVID this year—but you had some plans to do some work in India, correct?
Correct. I still have those plans. We’ve got a partner in ministry. It’s an orphanage in Mumbai, that really does incredible work, and their budget is—they feed and clothe and house and school 70 kids for less than $3,500 a month. It’s really amazing. These kids all come out of the slums, just about all of them, that end up in the orphanage. Once they age out of the orphanage, they go right back to the slums, and it’s really sad.
But they can’t afford a university degree, which is really, just hard for me to comprehend. Because in India, a bachelor’s degree is three years, it’s only $1,000 a year in tuition and books and fees. So you’re talking $3,000 to get someone a college degree, which changes the whole world for them, they don’t go back to the slum, maybe. They can get out in the business world.
So what we’ve tried to do is build kind of a work-study program. We’ve had starts and stops and we’re not there yet, but we did go and help them build an office with computers and phones and good internet, to where they can do some back office stuff for us. The ultimate goal is to train them—train these kids who are in their sophomore, junior, and senior years, to learn how to do some of our bookkeeping for our clients, and teach them how to do that.
Obviously, we’ll have to have clients volunteer to have their stuff sent to India. We can’t do that without their permission, I think it’ll kill two birds with one stone—two really good birds. One, it’ll bring down prices for our clients on the accounting side, and two, these kids will learn how to do US accounting with practical US experience before they even get into university. The plan is for a part of their wages, we’re not going to pay them Indian wages, which is about $1 a day—we’ll pay them somewhere halfway between Indian and US wages—is to put most of that in a trust to pay for their university. And we’re hoping when they’re in university, they can still come back part time as kind of a supervisory role, help grow up the next batch of kids, and then as long as they’re still working part time, by the time they get to university, they’ll have five, six years of practical accounting and experience and a degree, which has set them heads above most of the kids graduating. I think there’s like 35 million kids graduate college each year in India, and only about a third of them find placements.
That’s my dream on the charitable side. That’s one of my greatest passions, and I hope that we get there, but there’s a lot of work to go to get there.
I mean, that is an amazing goal that you’ve got with that. Is there a website that people can get involved with that? Is there any background on that? Or is this just while you were still putting this whole plan in place?
We’re still implementing it. The website is terrible, but I’ll share it anyways, Just if you check in now, please go back and check it in six months! But the website is raysofhopeus.org.
Great, thanks. And then I think we will have that be your fun fact—that is an amazing fact. Unless you want to share something else, some fun story of Mike Pine, or what you like to do, or…?
I think that’s my greatest fun fact, and where my greatest passion outside of the firm lies, but I will tell you one other fun fact that I suspect most people with kids have learned during COVID: Just because you lock your office door does not mean you’re not going to get screaming and scratching at the door like an animal, and banging during your video conferences. So that’s a fun fact—or not—but it’s been an experience.
“A real life fact.“ Yeah, exactly. Hey, we made it through this whole interview without any of that!
I had my wife take them for a walk!
See! You’re an advisor, you’re planning ahead, you’re looking at the future. All right! Well, before we completely wrap up, is there any way people can get ahold of you? A website? LinkedIn? Anything else?
Yeah, the website’s the best, we have a contact us form there. It’s just pinecocpas.com.
Great, well this has been awesome. I appreciate you being on here. You and I, we actually kind of changed the whole format that we were gonna discuss right before we started discussing it. I think it went great. I learned a lot, and I think a lot of people will get a lot out of this, especially if they’re six years behind you and in getting things going.
It’s been a lot of fun, thank you.
Yeah, I appreciate you being on the show!
Thank you for joining us today. And you can find all the links and show notes for today’s episode, as well as more about Tri-Merit at TheUniqueCPA.com. Remember to subscribe and join us for our next episode where we’ll be going beyond compliance into forging new pathways of delivering value to clients, diversifying your revenue streams, and leading edge management techniques and styles.
About the Guest
Mike Pine is the founder and Managing Member of Pine & Company CPAs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Pine & Company was established in 2014 following a merger between Mike’s solo practice and another firm. His vision for the company is to offer unsurpassed accounting and tax services, earning clients’ trust as he directly partners with them rather than merely providing accounting services.
Mike engages in charity work with youth in Mumbai, India via a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Rays of Hope US.
Mike graduated from Montana State University-Bozeman in 2000 with a bachelor’s in business and accounting and earned his Master’s of Professional Accountancy there in 2005. He previously worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers, TravisWolff and Crowe Horwath before establishing Pine & Company CPAs.
Meet the Host
Randy Crabtree, CPA
Randy Crabtree, co-founder and partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals, is a widely followed author, lecturer and podcast host for the accounting profession.
Since 2019, he has hosted the bi-weekly “The Unique CPA,” podcast, which ranks among the world’s 5% most popular programs (Source: Listen Score). You can find articles from Randy in Accounting Today’s Voices column, the AICPA Tax Adviser (Tax-saving opportunities for the housing and construction industries) and he is a regular presenter at conferences and virtual training events hosted by CPAmerica, Prime Global, Leading Edge Alliance (LEA), Allinial Global and several state CPA societies. Crabtree also provides continuing professional education to top 100 CPA firms across the country.
Schaumberg, Illinois-based Tri-Merit is a niche professional services firm that specializes in helping CPAs and their clients benefit from R&D tax credits, cost segregation, the energy efficient commercial buildings deduction (179D), the energy efficient home credit (45L) and the employee retention credit (ERC).
Prior to joining Tri-Merit, Crabtree was managing partner of a CPA firm in the greater Chicago area. He has more than 30 years of public accounting and tax consulting experience in a wide variety of industries, and has worked closely with top executives to help them optimize their tax planning strategies.