The following are my remarks at my career celebration. I could not have been happier being surrounded by my clients, friends and family.
Welcome and Thank You.
It is hard to believe that I have been serving as a professional for 38 years. As I look around and see all of you, I have been truly blessed. The reward for me is having all of you, as friends.
As most know, I am not retiring, but re-purposing. Working with my incredible partners and staff from Plante Moran will now be shifted to my new partners and new ventures I know that my new journey’s will be as exciting and fulfilling as my professional career.
There are so many people that I would like to acknowledge and thank. I have always believed that success as a professional is when your friends value you in a way to be your clients, and when your clients in turn value you in a way to be your friend. Each one of you here today, are my friends. Very special friends. I have been thinking about this day for some time and I have very good remembrances about each one of you. Great stories that unfortunately, if I told each one, would keep you here until midnight. We do have enough cocktails to get us there, but, I really want to be brief with my comments. Please know, I really care about each one of you, value our relationship and only want to continue it for years to come. Thank you!
After graduation I spent two very long years with a local CPA firm. From there, I went directly to the tax department at PriceWaterhouse. I want to thank my friend, Mark Stutler for encouraging me to pursue this.
My very first job at PW, I was assigned to an account where the client was a feisty, challenging client. I was warned how he chewed up staff and spit them out for breakfast. Certainly a great match for a 22 year old. Well, this assignment ended very well when the client called the PW partner and had me fired from this account. I think it may have actually taken 2 or 3 days for this to occur. Somehow I got back on accounts with this client and roll forward, he became my first client when I left PW and more important, he has been a mentor, friend and now partner. You will notice that he has a cast on this foot. As Tony will tell you, it is from kicking me in the butt! Thank you, my great friend, Tony Falzone!
When I left PW I thought I was going to be doing anything other than being a CPA. As luck would have it, My friend, fraternity pledge brother and long time partner, Brent Cousino encouraged me to join Joe Nachtrab and John O’Neil, starting off just to share expenses. We had no master strategic plan or vision at that time, we were just 4 guys that believed in servicing their clients, timely and with fair fees, bringing value to what we did.
The market really dictated what happened next, it responded and 13 years later, we had 3 offices, 100 people and aggressively recruited by this large regional firm, Plante Moran.
NCOT is where I learned about being a partner, maybe not always the easiest partner, but, one that I valued greatly my relationships with Brent, Joe and John, followed by John Nolan, Mary Werner, Dave DiManna, Jeff Heaphy, and Cathy Sheets. It has been a heck of a ride for sure!
In 1997 we merged with Plante Moran. Close to 20 years later, I stand here with an incredible number of superstar performers, both staff and partners.The Toledo office has been my home the whole time, but, early on, I spent quite some time in Columbus, Cleveland and Ann Arbor. Thank you to my current Toledo partners, Dave, Cathy, Yvonne and Robb, as well as the great staff I get to work with everyday.
Not quite knowing where to put me when we merged, I become part of the Family Wealth Advisor group, now part of the Wealth Management Industry where I became a partner in PMFA. I found this was the perfect home for me, focusing on entrepreneurs and family businesses on helping them create wealth and then manage their wealth. A big thank you to my PMFA partners and staff, many who are here, it is very meaningful to me. A special thanks to my buddies Trevor Royston and John Lesser. Trevor, I don’t know why you keep taking me back for your member/guest partner. We usually come in close to last and I have had to cancel for a variety of crisis’s. Did I tell you my daughter is expecting our second grandson right before the tournament this year? Whoops! And Johnny Lesser, you are one of the smartest guys I know. I know you will find time in your busy schedule to hang. Thanks buddy!
My Toledo, Ann Arbor and Columbus PMFA teams included some incredible people. Rob in our Toledo office, Hans from Columbus and Kevin in Ann Arbor. Great working with you! I have been blessed for many years with some fantastic assistants. Joanne Stiger and Julie Stevenson couldn’t be here, but, they looked after me like I was one of their kids, maybe because I acted like one??
Jennifer Burkhardt came on board close to 10 years ago. Her warmth, consistent great work and attitude, created an environment that was great to come to every day. Thanks!
About 15 years ago, we decided to start wealth management services out of Toledo. After interviewing several candidates, we lucked out with someone who was looking for a new career after the Arthur Anderson debacle. While Lisa had predominately a high wealth tax background, she had a desire to be in investments also. I am so fortunately to have worked with her almost every day for close to 15 years. I witnessed her growth from a somewhat timid, which is very of hard to believe, young lady, into a highly respected, successful wealth manager. For the last several years, she has been my colleague in crime or as I described, she did play-by-play while I did color. Thank you for all the years of great service to our clients and the firm, but, most of all, thank you for being my friend!
While we work for many reasons, professional fulfillment and financial reward and advancement, it is our family and friends that to me, make our lives. I have one incredible group of friends. When someone once asked me, who is my best friend, I thought for a moment and said, “I am fortunate to have many”. Thank you all, for I love you and look forward to all of our great adventures to come.
My sisters, my extended family, my cousins, sister-in-law, aunt and uncles have always been supported of me. I really appreciate you coming here for my repurposing party.
I have been blessed with some terrific parents. Julie’s Mom and Dad, of blessed memory, accepted me as their son immediately. I vividly remember the discussion I had with Shirley, Julie’s Mom, when I was dating Julie, about how I can “seal the deal”. I think she was angling for me to be part of the family before I was!
My parents have been wonderful. I am so fortunate to have my Mom here. She just celebrated her 85th birthday and is like then energizer bunny, always going. She has been a constant source of support and encouragement. I love you Mom and thank you! I lost my Dad 4 years ago. He lived a great 89 years. When I was putting together his accomplishments as a Jefferson Award finalist, I was amazed at all he had done. He was truly a great guy and role model and I miss him every day.
In Yiddish, there is a term, K’vell, which means “beaming with pride”. The good lord gave us these tremendous children who have graced us with intelligence, sensitivity to others, happiness and love. They also have graced us with a fantastic son-in-law, Brian, and grandson, Matthew, and another on the way.
Katie, our daughter the doctor! Reminds of the old story about the first Jewish president. As they were being sworn in, someone whispered to their Jewish Mother, “You have to be very proud right now”, “Yes I am” the Mother replied, “their sister is a doctor!” Honey, you have brought us constant joy and love. You are an incredible professional and I know life will always bring you, Brian and Matthew, love and success. We love you very much!
Jay, I so love our daily chats. About most everything. Whenever people talk to me about you, they say the same thing, “Jay is such a great guy!” Working with you is a dream come true for me. You are at the starting line of your life, with your wonderful girlfriend, Melissa, and a great opportunity with VisibleHand. I so look forward to being a front row spectator toward all your successes. I love you buddy!
From the day I wore the carnation to the disco bar, I was infatuated with Julie. She is beautiful, easy going and a natural partner for me. We have had so many incredible adventures in our life, I can’t every imagine what they would be like without you. Our life is just beginning and I look forward to starting this new chapter with you, starting today! I love you like the first time I saw you!
[pull out plastic figurine]
This is a small plastic figurine of Peter Pan. It has been adoring the window above my office door, for many years. I am not sure how many years or even who put it there. Maybe one of my staff? Or maybe my family? I am guessing whomever put it there was referring to my energy, humor or my outlook on life. I really am a kid.
But, this takes on a much deeper meaning to me, as Peter Pan is my role model. I wrote a poem to better describe this:
My Role Model, My Peter Pan
While we are not in Neverland,
I have a real life, role model, Peter Pan,
He was a boy, not quite a man,
My happy, silly, biggest fan
Full of life and laughter, we understand,
He created wonder to all around him, and,
His unconditional love was never canned,
He gave me playtime, this boy, not man,
And now he is off to Neverland,
My still, role model, Rossy, Peter Pan
As you wait for me, will be the plan,
To fly together, as I hold your hand.
I live my life now, not to be bland,
Creating joy and fun, to be unplanned,
Your love is with me, in a manner grand,
My Rossy buddy, Peter Pan
(We lost our beautiful son, Ross, in September 2011)
Thank’s again to all of you. I look forward to flying together to our next adventures!