Middle Market Company of the Month

Apple Growth Partners provides "healthy" growth

Introduction

You've heard the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away“? It's a simple philosophy that mirrors what Apple Growth Partners does on a daily basis for their clients. In addition to the traditional accounting, tax and auditing services, they have a fully developed business advisory model that includes: succession planning, estate planning, lean consulting, and business valuation. Now consisting of two offices in the Cleveland/Akron area and 85 employees, Apple Growth Partners has come a long way since its humble beginnings. They have become one of the top accounting firms in Northeast Ohio by providing their clients with the tools to achieve healthy, sustained growth.

To learn more, the Center sat down with Apple Growth Partners' Chairman, Dave Gaino.

What were the key moments/decisions in your organization's history that you feel are most responsible for shaping its current state?

In my opinion, there are three defining moments in our organization's history:

1) Our founding: In January 1943, Jay Heinick a junior at the University of Akron, was on his way to school when he noticed a long line of people standing outside the post office in the cold. While most people would have driven by and not given it a second thought, Jay stopped to see what was causing the issue. Recent changes in the requirements for filing income taxes had caused a backlog of people waiting in line to file. The very next day, Jay rented a hut across from the post office in an open parking lot to capitalize on this growing need for expertise and a more efficient process. People came in flocks; so many that Jay eventually hired some of his professors to help with the paperwork. I tell this story because it is not only a pivotal moment in our organization's history but it also exemplifies Apple Growth Partners' ability to see what could be, not just what is.

2) Moving to a professionally managed firm model: In 1998, as a result of a merger with a Cleveland firm, Apple Growth Partners moved from a managing partner model to a professionally managed organization. We ultimately felt that the skills possessed by a CPA managing partner weren't necessarily the skills needed to run a strategic organization. This is unique because the oldest partner in a CPA firm would typically become the manager as well; in our case we hired a Chief Operating Officer. The COO's MBA background provides our firm with the strategic vision required to develop and grow the business.

3) Moving to a values driven organization: This was one of the most profound changes experienced by the firm. Our former COO recommended and led Apple Growth Partners to become a values driven organization as a result of his experience in HR. To do so, we commissioned fifteen members of our staff to select a set of core values for the organization. The results of this work are what we focus on today: Integrity, Accountability, Positive Culture, Commitment to Excellence, and Exceptional Client Relationships.  

Where do you see the majority of your firm's investment going?

Our firm's success is a result of three key areas of investment:

1) Talent " This is probably our number one investment because we are a service oriented business. We just recently hired our first full-time recruiter in order to source the talent we need to continue our growth as a firm.

2) Specialized Training " Due to the nature of our business and regulation that is constantly changing, specialized training is extremely important. It allows our employees to maintain their levels of expertise and provide cutting edge insights to our clients.

3) Moore Stephens International Limited " We invested in this network of member firms in order to capitalize on expertise that our firm might not be able to provide, for example International Tax Services to facilitate growth by going “global“. Our membership allows us to connect clients with partner organizations throughout the world that have the unique skills necessary to achieve healthy growth. It also allows maintain our local perspective, while providing clients with the global reach necessary to compete in today's economy.

What is your advice to students who are interested in working at a firm like Apple Growth Partners? What type of individual do you look for?

My one piece of advice would be to investigate. Do as much interviewing and shadowing as you can. It will go a long way to really gaining an understanding of what a career in whatever field you choose will be like.

As far as the type of individual we look for, I would say they definitely need to have an entrepreneurial spirit, have good people skills, and be relationship oriented. Being a values-driven organization allows us to maintain exceptional results for our clients while keeping the partners accountable and not allowing this success to be at the expense of our interns and associates. That being said, we look for those individuals who maintain our same values and will continue to do what is in the best interest of the firm.

To learn more about this firm or to set up a free review using their “Healthy Growth Checklist“checkout their website at www.applegrowth.com.

For information on career opportunities contact Jaclyn Donadio at jdonadio@applegrowth.com.


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