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Ohio’s online resources help nonprofit board members meet responsibilities

Posted by Admin Posted on July 28 2018

Giving back to your community by serving on the board of a non-profit organization is an honor, but one that comes with responsibility.

Board members are accountable for the non-profit's actions and have fiduciary duties to the organization. They are also legally required to be informed, active participants in corporate governance and to act in ways that help further of the nonprofit's charitable mission. 

To help non-profit board members fulfill your duties and protect themselves, the Ohio Attorney General's Charitable Law Section has developed a number of resources.

1. A pre-recorded webinar contains an overview of the legal obligations of board members. This webinar can be viewed anytime and can be found at http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Business/Services-for-Charities/Charitable-Webinars.

2.  The state offers a monthly one-hour live webinar on board governance that explains board members’ fiduciary duties and how to fulfill them. This webinar is at noon on the first Wednesday of each month. Register for the webinar at http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Training-and-Education/Nonprofit-Board-Governance-Webinars.

3. The Charitable Law Section will provide live training on board governance issues throughout the state if your organization is willing to host a training and invite other charitable organizations to attend. To inquire about hosting a training, send an email to CharitableLaw@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.

4. There are numerous publications online. The most popular publications are "Guide for Charity Board Members" and "Avoiding Theft in Your Nonprofit." These and other publications can be found at http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Business/Services-for-Charities/Resources-for-Nonprofit-Board-Members.

5. Board members can subscribe to the Nonprofit Newsletter, an electronic newsletter prepared by the Charitable Law Section at http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Media/Newsletters.

Dan Wolfe Celebrates End of Tax Season with a Run Around the World - via Epcot

Posted by Admin Posted on May 30 2018

How did our Daniel Wolfe celebrate the end of a hectic tax season? He went to Disney World in Orlando. While he was there, he laced up his sneakers and participated in the Star Wars Dark Side 5K at Epcot. The Force was with him for the 5:30 a.m. race, as were his son Joel Wolfe and daughter Sarah Carr.

“I would be lying if I said I ran the whole thing,” said Wolfe. “And, my time is a secret.”

Dan is a big Disney World fan, as he and his family have visited Mickey Mouse and his friends practically every year since 2002. He and his wife honeymooned there in 1973, and they began taking their young children there in about 1980.

This most recent visit was a great way to let off some steam after a hectic tax season that often involves 60 to 70-hour work weeks from January to April. 

Client: Relationship with BWLK Built on Friendship

Posted by Admin Posted on May 26 2018

There’s an old adage that advises that it’s not ideal to mix business with pleasure.

But some businessmen, like Derek Hiscox from Mills Holloway Insurance Agency, value business relationships rooted in professionalism, loyalty and friendship. And in today’s business environment, these types of partnerships are few and far between.

“When you work with someone for 32 years, it becomes much more than just a working relationship,” said Derek. “We consider our relationship with Byler, Wolfe, Lutsch & Kampfer to be a friendship on both a professional and personal level. This has been a great long-term partnership.”

Mills Holloway Insurance Agency is an independent insurance agency specializing in automobile, homeowners, recreational vehicles, life and commercial insurances. They have offices in Columbiana and Lisbon with clients in Columbiana and Mahoning counties and western Pennsylvania.

The company was founded in 1956 as Mills Insurance Agency, where Derek started his insurance career in 1982. Derek initially engaged with BWLK (then A.S. Fricano) in 1986 when Gene Byler from the firm began preparing his personal tax returns. Now, more than 30 years later, Byler is responsible for Derek’s personal taxes, partnership taxes and estate perpetuation planning.

In 2015, Byler and the BWLK team assisted Mills Insurance Agency with the sale of the business to Holloway Insurance in Columbiana. The current owners of the business are Sean, Jessica and Denny Holloway.

“We insure many contractors and farmers and have always received great feedback from our clients when referring them to BWLK for their accounting services,” said Derek. “I have always been cautious when referring my clients to other businesses for anything, but I have never hesitated to recommend BWLK to family, friends or clients.

“It gives me peace of mind to have the ability to discuss personal or business financial issues and potential tax concerns with Gene [Byler] and Rick [Lutsch]. We always receive great information and explanations with quick responses.” 

Accounting Client Impressed with BWLK Customer Service

Posted by Admin Posted on Jan 31 2018

When it comes to making purchases or hiring a company to complete a job, customers and clients seek quality work at a fair price, done in a reasonable amount of time. But perhaps even more importantly, consumers thirst for excellent customer service, which often seems hard to come by.

Whether it’s struggling to reach a live human when calling tech support or getting a rude response to your concern, good customer service is hard to find these days.

Brad Gilson, owner of Brad’s Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning, knows that the success of his business is built on the level of customer service he provides – especially in emergency situations. So when he needed to hire an accountant to handle his business affairs, he sought out a CPA firm known for its excellent customer service.

“The biggest thing I enjoy about my business is satisfying my customers,” said Gilson, whose company specializes in carpet cleaning, and fire and water restoration. “In my business, I get emergency calls from customers who need immediate attention, and I do my best to deliver results quickly.

“Dan [Wolfe] has been handling the accounting for my business for more than 10 years, and he does a fantastic job of customer service. His availability is above and beyond – I can reach him in the office or on his cell phone anytime I need something. I’ve referred him to anyone who has mentioned needing an accountant.”

Dan takes care of business taxes and consulting for both of Brad’s businesses – carpet restoration and property management. When the latter company was launched, Brad called Dan for advice on how to set it up and hired him to handle the accounting.

“He walked me through everything to make sure nothing got missed,” explained Brad. “I can call him anytime for his opinion before making any business decision. He is a great person and really responsive to any need I have. I couldn’t be happier with his work.”

To learn more about Brad's Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning, click here.

New BWLK office manager ready do some heavy lifting

Posted by Admin Posted on Jan 10 2018

In the gym, Samantha Scott is used to doing the heavy lifting.

Now in her new role as office manager in Byler, Wolfe, Lutsch & Kampfer’s Salem location, she’s preparing to help the firm handle the heavy workload during the upcoming tax season.

https://secure.emochila.com/swserve/siteAssets/site6533/images/Sam_Scott_2018.jpgSamantha, who competes alongside her husband as a power lifter, joined the team in Salem in November. Her job responsibilities will include assembling completed tax returns, answering incoming calls, filing, setting up new client appointments, applying payments, and assisting the CPAs with anything they need.

“Everyone here has been really friendly and welcoming,” Samantha said. “It’s a little bit different than the legal industry, but there are similarities. I like that I have my own work space where I can do my own thing and get things done.”

Samantha spent the last five years working in a law office in East Palestine. She has a good deal of experience in the service industry, also spending time in the insurance business. She was born and raised in East Palestine and is a graduate of Crestview High School.

After high school, she attended the University of Akron for a year, then transferred to Kent State Salem for a year. She still wasn’t sure what career field interested her, so she took time off from college to work. Ultimately, she decided to use the working world as her classroom.

One of her job stops was at a tanning salon, which proved to do more than provide a paycheck. While she was there, she met her future husband, who had moved from California to work as a personal trainer at the gym next door. Three years later, they are married and traveling the country competing in power lifting events.

“I met my husband at the gym,” said Samantha. “His dad was originally from Beaver Falls and lives in East Palestine, so that’s how he ended up back here. Power lifting keeps us pretty busy, and we really enjoy it.”

While they’ve competed at events all over the country, they’ve recently narrowed their focus to a special event that is about more than being the strongest or taking home the biggest trophy. Twice a year, they lift in an event called Relentless. These meets serve as fundraisers for children who are terminally ill. Funds raised from the competitions are donated to HopeKids, a non-profit organization founded in 2001.

As members of “Team Hope,” lifters are introduced to a HopeKids children and their families who they will be raising money and lifting in honor of. They are invited to the private Relentless Kickoff Events in Minnesota and Detroit where they will be introduced to their HopeKid honoree and their family.

Competitors are encouraged to stay in contact with their HopeKids family as they focus on training and fundraising. The lifters’ strength will inspire the HopeKid, and hopefully the HopeKids’ strength will inspire the lifter to press on in training and fundraising.

“It means so much more than competing for some trophy that will just sit on a shelf collecting dust,” said Samantha, who dresses up as the Elsa from the movie “Frozen” during the events to make it fun for the HopeKids who attend. “It’s for a great cause.”

Catch BWLK’s commercial at Salem Twin Cinema

Posted by Admin Posted on Dec 11 2017

BWLK has hit the big screen!

To increase the firm’s visibility and support Salem’s local movie theater, BWLK recently agreed to participate in an advertising program coordinated by a company called Before the Movie.

https://secure.emochila.com/swserve/siteAssets/site6533/images/BWLK_movie_video_238x160.jpgSalem Twin Cinema on State Street recently began showing BWLK’s commercial on the big screen prior to movie presentations.

“We have always felt that supporting local businesses is very important,” said Rick Lutsch, one of the firm’s principals and coordinator of the commercial project. 

“It was a creative and unique way to communicate with prospective clients and showcase the capabilities of our firm.”

The commercial is 15 seconds in length and features information about the firm, as well as several photos recently taken as part of BWLK’s website upgrade.

Salem Twin Cinema has been a part of the Salem community since it opened under its original owner in 1972. Previously owned by Geoff and Kim Goll of Salem, it was sold in 2014 to Jock and Natalee Buta. 

The theater was then completely remodeled and upgraded to use digital projectors allowing 3-D movies, surround sound audio equipment, and deluxe seating featuring both reclining and vibrating seats.

You can watch BWLK’s commercial here

BWLK Principal Dan Wolfe Participates in Tax Reform Roundtable

Posted by Admin Posted on Nov 22 2017

https://secure.emochila.com/swserve/siteAssets/site6533/images/Wolfe_3_minutes_238x160.jpgTax reform is complicated. But when you get a group of tax accountants all in one room, the topic seems a little more simplified.

Recently, the Youngstown Business Journal invited some of the Mahoning Valley’s best and brightest tax accountants to participate in a roundtable discussion about the complexities of the state and federal tax codes. 

Our Daniel Wolfe was among those offering his viewpoints. Comments from Dan and the other accountants were featured in the Business Journal’s print and online editions. 

Dan was also featured in the newspaper’s ‘3 Minutes With’ video, which can be viewed here.

Website upgrade highlights firm’s history and focus on customer experience

Posted by Admin Posted on Oct 21 2017

https://secure.emochila.com/swserve/siteAssets/site6533/images/BWLK_1.jpgThroughout its long history, Byler, Wolfe, Lutsch & Kampfer, CPAs has always been willing to change when needed. Whether it was expanding the firm’s tax and business services to better accommodate clients’ needs or adding more staff or locations to serve more business communities, BWLK has maintained an eye toward progress.

Changes in technology

In the past decade, the changes in technology have been incredible across all industries. From cell phones and other mobile devices to the Internet and wireless connections, technology has transformed the way the world does business. Clients and customers have more access to goods and services than ever before. Indeed, it’s possible to get virtually everything one needs to survive – goods, services, information - without even leaving the house.

Recognizing these changes, BWLK has embraced the use of technology to better serve its clients. While we certainly value the good old-fashioned handshake and face-to-face meetings and communication, we also understand that technology has its benefits. These include speed and convenience of business transactions, improved customer service and increased access to information.

Improving your online experience

In 2009, BWLK launched its first website to provide current and prospective clients access to tools and information that would benefit them. Three years later, in 2012, a major website upgrade was completed to further improve clients’ online experience.

We added a news blog and email newsletter in 2015 to better communicate with our client base, prospective clients and the communities we serve. Much of the news in these communications are housed on our website.

Check out the new BWLKcpa.com

Recently, we upgraded our website again, and we think you’ll like what you see. Some of the changes are easy to notice, while others are more subtle. Here’s what website visitors will notice:

Home page feature photos: We’ve replaced the old “generic” photos of strangers with new professional photographs of our own staff and facilities from both the Salem and East Liverpool offices. We feel this better aligns with the local and personal service we provide to our clients.

About Us page staff bios: We’ve updated the information in our staff bios, including adding a few new ones. We believe it’s important for you to get to know us, as we learn about your business and how we can provide solutions for your needs. We added photos to our bios so you can put a face with a name or voice as you work with us.

Firm History page: Just as you are proud of your company’s history, we feel the same way about ours. In order to share that history and experience with you, we created a new History page on our website. It can be accessed under the About Us menu. We had fun looking back to where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished and we thank our loyal clients for allowing us to serve them for so many years.

We hope you like the improvements we’ve made to our website as we strive to improve our clients’ experience in as many ways possible – both online and offline. Through it all, our goal remains the same as its always been: To help clients maintain financial viability in the present while taking a proactive approach to achieve future goals.

We invite you to explore our new and improved website, and give us a call to discuss how we can support your business. You might be surprised at all our services that could help your business.

Five Questions With ... Alfred Fricano

Posted by Admin Posted on Mar 27 2017

Q. When and why did you decide to go into accounting?

My dad was in the grocery business, next to our home, so I was always around a business. However, when I graduated from high school, I went to school for engineering, which I discovered wasn’t for me.

At age 21, I went into the candy tobacco wholesale business. I had about $80,000 of my dad’s money in salable inventory in 1957. I really didn’t know if I was making a profit or loss, so I went to the local business college to take bookkeeping to find out. Shazam, I had never heard of accounting, so a whole new world opened up for me.

Business was not that profitable. I sold the inventory, paid my dad, went to Youngstown State University to major in accounting and minor in economics. After graduation, I went to work for Arthur Anderson, and found out that I hated auditing.

I then went to work for the IRS auditing tax returns. After 4 ½ years, I recognized the fact that there was a need to help small businesses with their tax compliance. So, I became a CPA and purchased a small tax practice.

Q. What qualities make a good accountant?

It is a given that if you are a CPA, you understand accounting. However, understanding business is different, and knowing how the IRS works gives you insight into complex areas of tax law. This equips you to be able to help clients make tax-saving and sound business decisions. Sometimes, you have to look past the numbers to make a good decision. You need to listen to what is troubling your clients, and be responsive quickly after they call you for help.

Q. What areas of the business do you focus on?

My main focus is on tax planning, tax consulting, tax preparation of individual, corporate trusts and partnership LLC. As a Certified Business Valuation Analyst, I also perform business valuation consulting in business transitioning and estate planning.

Q. What has been the greatest moment in your career?

I can’t recall any greatest moment in my career. I just feel blessed that I am doing what I am doing and able to provide beneficial services to my clients.

Q. What do you do outside the office for fun?

I like to work in my yard growing flowers, golf trap shooting and dancing.

 

 

Byler Discusses New Overtime Rules in Youngstown Business Journal

Posted by Admin Posted on Nov 26 2016

Gene Byler was quoted in a recent Youngstown Business Journal news story about the new overtime laws that the U.S. Department of Labor are implementing starting Dec. 1.

In the article, Byler said "managers of fast-food restaurants and department managers at retail stores paid less than $913 a week are the two groups that often work beyond 40 hours and aren’t paid for the extra hours they put in."

He noted that "maybe we’ll see more part-time workers hired.” He suggests that "it’s more likely part-time employees will see their hours increased and more duties reassigned to them."

Read the entire story here.

Five Questions With… Laurie Chaffee

Posted by Admin Posted on Nov 05 2016

What qualities make a good accountant?

I think attention to detail and the ability to communicate with clients, among other things, make for a good accountant. Sometimes, this requires translating technical accounting information or tax issues into terms that can be understood by someone not trained in our field. Being able to bridge that gap helps us give the client the best possible service. 

https://secure.emochila.com/swserve/siteAssets/site6533/images/Laurie_Chaffee.jpgWhat areas of the business do you focus on?

My responsibilities include a little bit (or a lot, during busy season) of everything from individual taxes, to corporation taxes, as well as accounting and QuickBooks consulting. 

When and why did you decide to go into accounting?

When I started college at Youngstown State (graduated summa cum laude), I wasn’t sure what major I wanted to pursue. However, after taking some business courses I found myself becoming interested in accounting. The rest is history.

 

What was the greatest moment in your career?

Passing the CPA exam! The exam, which is given in 4 sections, is considered to be one of the most difficult professional license tests to pass. According to the AICPA, the passage rates for each section so far in 2016 are: Auditing & Attestation – 46.4%, Business Environment & Concepts – 56.6%, Financial Accounting & Reporting – 46.4% and Regulation – 49.4%.)

What do you do outside the office for fun?

In my spare time, I like to spend time with family, enjoy the outdoors and travel. I’ve also served in the community as treasurer of both the Salem Rotary and Salem YMCA, and on the board of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce.

(Laurie Chaffee is a Certified Public Accountant and works in BWLK’s Salem office. She celebrated her 25th anniversary at the firm in 2015. To reach her with accounting related questions or schedule an appointment, call 330-332-4646.)

Five Questions With ... Stacey Smith

Posted by Admin Posted on Aug 01 2016

What qualities make a good accountant? 

I didn’t really decide to go into accounting. I first applied at BWLK for a secretarial position and found that I enjoyed accounting and have an aptitude for it. I’ve moved up through the company over the past nearly 16 years, and am a Registered Tax Return Preparer.

https://secure.emochila.com/swserve/siteAssets/site6533/images/Stacey_Smith_072216.jpgWhat areas of the business do you focus on?

I’m active in many areas of the business, including client payroll preparation and compliance, individual and business tax return preparation and review, accounting and workpaper completion, and various general office duties as needed.

When and why did you decide to go into accounting?

I didn’t really decide to go into accounting. I first applied at BWLK for a secretarial position and found that I enjoyed accounting and have an aptitude for it. I’ve moved up through the company over the past nearly 16 years, and am a Registered Tax Return Preparer.

What was the greatest moment in your career?

Passing the Registered Tax Return Preparer test was very exciting for me. It was the culmination of everything I’d studied up to that point.

What do you do outside the office for fun?

I spend time with my boyfriend and my children, Lillian (age 11) and Liam (9). I enjoy music, board games, crocheting, and minor league baseball games.

Posted by Admin Posted on Feb 29 2016

Grand Ford Appreciates Long Time Relationship with BWLK

Posted by Admin Posted on Jan 06 2016

Cars and calculators.

Those are the two things that have captured Bob Martin’s attention the most during his 40-year professional career.

After spending the first two years of his career crunching numbers on his 10-key as an accountant at an accounting firm in northeast Ohio, the Kent State graduate shifted gears to join the family car business at Grand Ford.

Although he still dabbles in accounting by keeping the books at his car dealership in East Liverpool, Ohio, he had enough business sense to leave the most complicated accounting to the professionals at Byler, Wolfe, Lutsch & Kampfer.

Strong Reputation

“They are a reputable firm and we’ve never had a problem,” said Bob, who hired A.S. Fricano & Co. (the predecessor to BWLK) to do the dealership’s taxes more than 40 years ago. “Al [Fricano] was a friend of my father-in-law, who owned the dealership. They’ve always done a great job for us, so we’ve never had a reason to make a change.”

Shortly after Grand Ford retained the CPA firm to complete its annual business tax return, Dan Wolfe took over the account. Throughout the decades of service, Bob has relied on Dan for more than just the annual tax return. And, as an accountant in his early years, he knows quality work when he sees it.

Knowledgeable and Responsive

“Dan is very knowledgeable and does a great job for us,” said Bob, whose dealership will begin its 42nd year of business in 2016. “Through the years, he’s helped us with a variety of important accounting functions. He helped during our change from a C corporation to an S corporation, and he stepped right in to get us through an audit back in 1991.

“Having the support of a local firm like BWLK, and specifically Dan, gives us peace of mind and allows us to focus on running our business and making our customers happy. We know we can count on Dan whenever we need help with something.”

From Wolfe’s point of view, the Grand Ford account is much more than a typical client relationship. In some ways, he’s received just as much knowledge as he’s given.

“I have enjoyed the relationship - both business and personal - that Bob and I have had over the many years.” Said Wolfe. “I feel that I have learned a great deal from Bob about the automotive industry during our connection.

“I consider Bob Martin to be the consummate business professional, and I rank him at the top of the list for business ethics and consideration of his clients.”

About Grand Ford

Grand Ford, Inc. was started in 1974 by Anthony, Dom and Al Ludovici. Robert Martin joined the business in 1975 as the General Manager.

In 1990, there was a change in ownership with Anthony Ludovici and Robert and Linda Martin buying out the other partners. Robert Martin became President and Dealer Principal at that time. 

Grand Ford is the oldest family owned dealership in the tri-state area.

Five Questions With... Rick Lutsch

Posted by Admin Posted on Nov 27 2015

Q. What qualities make a good accountant? 

A. There are the obvious answers like attention to detail, being able to stay current on the ever-changing accounting rules and tax regulations.  Although these are crucial, I don’t think that is what separates accountants as consultants and service providers.

I believe the best way to provide value is to take a genuine interest in clients’ businesses.  You have to examine the clients’ challenges and attempt to equip them with the tools they need to be successful.  Sometimes, clients are not aware of what they need and what we can do to help.  The task is listening to their problem and providing a suitable solution.  

Q. What areas of the business do you focus on?

A. Everyone in our firm is essentially a general practitioner.  However, we have a large enough staff to be able to have some areas of emphasis.  I oversee our accounting and financial reporting services and the quality control system for issuing financial statements that have been compiled and reviewed.

We also perform what are known in the accounting field as “agreed upon procedures.”  For many organizations, especially some not-for-profits, these serve as “cash audits.”  Although these types of services are not truly “audits” in the technical sense, they can provide what the organization needs without the cost of a complete financial statement audit.     

I also complete many of our not-for-profit clients’ federal form 990s to comply with their IRS requirements. In addition, I oversee and perform the monthly accounting and year-end tax returns for individuals, corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies.   

Q. When and why did you decide to go into accounting?

A. I really just fell into it.  In high school, I took a one-half credit accounting class because I was leaning toward pursuing a college degree in business. A funny thing happened - I was hooked. I liked the way the whole accounting process came together. The rest is history.

Q. What has been the greatest moment in your career?

A. I honestly cannot name a particular moment.  I love the feeling of completing a project for the client and knowing that it was valuable to them.  I also take pride when I have worked with a client for a period of time, and they think enough of what I have done for them to call me “just to bounce a question” or get my opinion on a business decision they are considering.  

Q. What do you do outside the office for fun?

A. I am very involved with a local Boy Scout troop. I enjoy golf, camping and backpacking when in my free time. 

BWLK Launches Social Media Program to Communicate with Clients

Posted by Admin Posted on Oct 21 2015

In business and friendship, communication is critical.

In order to deepen relationships with its clients, prospects and friends, BWLK recently launched a new social media program. The firm created BWLK Facebook and LinkedIn pages and began posting information intended to more regularly engage clients and followers.

Posts will educate and inform followers on accounting and business matters, update them on firm news, and highlight how partners and staff are involved in the communities they live and work in.

You can find BWLK’s Facebook page here. Once you find us, Like our page. You can also follow us on LinkedIn. We encourage you to interact with our content by liking, commenting and sharing it with your friends and followers.

Kensington Well Driller Appreciates Responsiveness, Industry Knowledge

Posted by Admin Posted on Aug 20 2015

The Miller family once enjoyed a strong relationship with its accountant, but service declined when his practice was acquired by a larger firm, George Miller recalls.  

Fortunately for the family’s oil & gas business, the Millers found their way to a new accounting firm, Byler Wolfe Lutsch & Kampfer CPAs, Inc. As a result, they’re back to appreciating responsive accounting service and tax counsel.

“They [BWLK] have a full understanding of the oil and gas industry and how to maximize value from a tax and accounting standpoint,” said George, president of the company, William S. Miller Inc. in Kensington. “When we need them, they’re right on the spot.”

About William S. Miller Inc.

The company was established in 1983 by George’s father, William, primarily as a provider of services to companies that drilled oil and gas wells. Eventually, the company began drilling its own wells, and now manages 120 of them, primarily in Columbiana, Stark and Carroll counties but ranging throughout northeastern Ohio.

Miller’s wells reach the Clinton and shallower formations that have produced natural gas in Ohio for decades. The family is not engaged in larger-scale Utica and Marcellus shale drilling, but they do lease some land to deep-well drillers.

William is still part of the management team, now as chairman. Others include George’s brother Dave, vice president, and their sister Jane Todd, secretary-treasurer. 

BWLK was referred to the Millers by the administrator of their company retirement plan. “He saw how frustrated we were” with the accounting firm serving the Millers and he knew BWLK principal Gene Byler, George said.

Looking ahead

One of the best results of the BWLK relationship so far has been the shift of the company from a C corporation to an S corporation, Miller said. BWLK’s Gene Byler worked with the Millers’ lawyer to execute the transaction, which created tax savings and efficiency.

The change made sense because of the variety of assets and revenue streams in the business, including equipment, oil and gas assets and royalty income, George said.

“The transition put us right where we need to be,” he said.

Although revenue in the oil and gas industry suffers when prices are low, the Millers are accustomed to the ups and down of the business.

Moreover, they continue to benefit from the transition they made years ago from primarily servicing drilling companies to drilling and managing their own wells. In pricing downturns, drilling dries up and so does service work.

“But wells still do generate some income,” George pointed out. “You just tighten down the hatch again. The prices will come back.” 

Salem CPA Marks 25 Years With BWLK

Posted by Admin Posted on Aug 20 2015

A Salem native who wanted to work locally has marked her 25-year anniversary with Byler, Wolfe, Lutsch & Kampfer CPAs, Inc.

Laurie Chaffee, a certified public accountant and manager at the Salem office, reached the milestone this Spring.

“I wanted to stay in the local area,” said Laurie, 48, still a Salem resident. “Over the years I have developed good relationships with many of my clients and in the community. We have a good team in our Salem office, and each of us has specialties.”

Among Laurie’s strengths is work with Intuit QuickBooks accounting software. She does most of the firm’s QuickBooks training and consulting.

Her work also includes tax return preparation, accounting and financial statements and business consulting.

“She’s become an instrumental component for all of our client services, including tax, consulting and financial statement preparation,” said firm principal Rick Lutsch.

Laurie graduated summa cum laude from Youngstown State University in 1990 with a bachelor’s of science degree in business administration. She had amassed real-world experience by that point through her work for a professor who had a tax practice.

The offer from BWLK’s predecessor, A.S. Fricano Inc., enabled her to stay in the Salem area.

“I wanted to work in public accounting, and I lived in Salem, so getting an offer from a firm so close to home was great,” she recalled.

Laurie started as a staff accountant, entering data and preparing simple tax returns and payroll reports. She “learned quickly that the neat and tidy exercises they teach with are nothing like the real-world accounting problems, especially when working with small businesses,” she said. 

As QuickBooks became more popular among small businesses, Laurie was “elected” by her colleagues to bone up on it. Her work as a certified QuickBooks consultant now ranges from helping clients complete a new install to answering a few questions to various levels of service in between.

Over her 25 years, she’s become involved in the community. She is now treasurer of the Salem Rotary, where she’s been a member for 18 years, and has served on the organization’s board.

She has also served on the board of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce and was a treasurer of the Salem YMCA.

Asked what BWLK clients like about the firm, she points to its local roots. In addition, “we are willing to tailor our services to meet the needs of each client,” Laurie said. “We do our best to provide quality services while keeping our fees affordable.”

Five Questions With… Dan Wolfe

Posted by Admin Posted on Aug 10 2015

BWLK principal Daniel D. Wolfe at the July 2015 chamber of commerce expo.

Q. What qualities make a good accountant

A. Listening, understanding, intuitiveness. Though some do not, all accountants should have the technical skills to perform their jobs, especially in the areas of their concentration, but there is something above those skills need to make a “good” accountant. I think a good accountant will partner up with clients and become an integral part of the client’s organization. In order to achieve this level, I believe you need listen, understand and be intuitive.  

Q. What areas of the business do you focus on? 

A. My primary area is taxation, but with my background, I find myself frequently working with business management and financial planning. Along with my 20+ years in public accounting, I have 16 years of manufacturing experience as vice president, chief financial officer and human resources director. I also have passed my Series 65 exam that allows me to be a registered investment advisor representative.

Q. Does being a CPA bring community responsibilities?

A. Being a CPA creates a skill set that can be valuable in any size community. I have always felt a responsibility to use my skills to support the community I live and work in. I am the current president of the Southern Columbiana County Regional Chamber of Commerce, trustee of Roberts Wesleyan College and Northeastern Seminary (Rochester, NY), a member of the board of directors at Columbiana County Memorial Park, past chairman of the board of Tri-State Federal Credit Union and past president of Calcutta Rotary. I have held several positions in my local church and the associated district of churches.

Q. When and why did you decide to go into accounting?  

A. I came in through the back door. Going into my senior year of high school, my game plan was to major in music until I became concerned that this would lead to being a high school band director (please, no offense to band directors). While dealing with this dilemma, I happened to speak with a local CPA who asked about my plans and I answered, “I guess major in business,” with no clue what that really meant. He suggested accounting and said, “If you major in accounting, you can get a job and migrate to any other part of business you may like from there.” As simple as that sounds, it made perfect sense to me. So here I am, and I never looked back.

Q. What was the greatest moment in your career?

A. Though strange, I would have to say the entire career so far. I have met so many good and inspiring people, dealt with many interesting business individuals and learned more than I ever dreamed I would. To paraphrase a great attorney and friend of mine, “I am blessed to have had such an adventure, to learn so much and have success on my limited abilities.” 

Seed Supplier Says Accounting Firm Switch Sprouted Better Service

Posted by Admin Posted on June 10 2015

Shortly after buying out a partner last year, Green Valley Seed President Jeff Hum made another big business decision: He changed accounting firms.

Since then, he says, he has been impressed by the upgraded service he enjoys from Byler, Wolfe, Lutsch & Kampfer.

“We worked with a larger firm, but the primary people working on our business were junior people,” said Jeff (pictured). “Now, we have a senior person looking at our taxes line by line and understanding our business better than any of our previous accountants ever did.”

 About Green Valley 

Jeff is now the majority owner of Green Valley Seed, based at 7472 W. Akron-Canfield Road, Canfield, and his son Bryan owns a minority share. Opened in 1966, Green Valley sells and delivers grass seed, as well as fertilizer, hydromulch and erosion control products, throughout Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Much of the reclamation work on pipeline and drilling projects throughout the Utica Shale play has sourced Green Valley products. Last year, the company opened a warehouse in Cadiz, Ohio, to capitalize on that business and wound up posting a record year.

 More support at tax time 

Jeff had been a part-owner of Green Valley since the 1990s and always had significant involvement with its accountants.

When tax time approached, the old firm sent personnel to download business information and review a set of questions. Then they would compile tax returns for a senior partner to review and finalize.

Now, Jeff works directly with Gene Byler, a partner at BWLK and head of its tax division.

“Gene told me up front that he would be the guy doing our taxes, and he goes over things line by line,” Jeff said. “He doesn’t just look at those figures, he’s actually thinking about how they affect our business and what recommendations he can give us to reduce our taxes.

“Most of our accountants in the past never knew our business. But that’s not the case with him … he understands my business a lot more than the other firm ever did.”

 Time-saving advice 

BWLK has also provided fast and good advice about decisions, including recent ones on whether to buy or lease equipment and how to manage a huge receivable.

“I don’t have time to go out and research,” Jeff said. “Gene has a lot of knowledge and deals with a wide array of companies, and his expertise saves me time.”

Jeff heard about BWLK from two business owners he knows who were happy with its service. He said he would recommend the firm to other business owners. 

Five Questions With… Gene Byler

Posted by Admin Posted on June 10 2015

Eugene E. Byler is treasurer at BWLK and heads up its tax division.

Q. What qualities make a good accountant

A. I believe a competent accountant is knowledgeable, detail-oriented and service-oriented, and has a desire to find errors and correct them. Many of my clients become friends, as well. As a colleague of mine recently told me, you can’t become so deeply involved with your clients’ financial issues without it becoming personal for you.

Q. What areas of the business do you focus on? 

A. My primary area of expertise is taxation, but I also spend considerable time consulting businesses on non-tax issues. Although I have a specialty in agricultural taxation, I have prepared a variety of tax returns, with numerous state implications, including trusts and estates and gift tax returns, as well as partnership and corporate tax returns for a large variety of businesses.

I am the firm’s primary consultant for SAGE (formerly Peachtree) software.  I have earned a Certificate in Educational Achievement from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) for a comprehensive course in tax planning and advising for closely held businesses. I am a member of the AICPA, the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants, the National Association of Tax Practitioners and the Salem Kiwanis.  

Q. When and why did you decide to go into accounting?  

A. When I was 5 years old, a friend of mine who was the clerk for Green Township allowed me to assist him with the financial records. He allowed me to pull the handle on the old adding machine he used. (I’m not sure if it was more of a nuisance to him, but it got me interested).  Then in high school, I completed the two-year basic accounting course in just one year. The teacher (Mrs. Mink) suggested that I consider going to college for accounting. 

Due to my early exposure and my desire to attend college, it seemed like a natural idea. During my first quarter at Youngstown State University, I took an accounting course. God and I had a little discussion about where he wanted me to go with my life. I asked Him to allow me to earn an “A” in the course if accounting was the direction I should go in. After earning that grade, there was little doubt in my mind where God wanted me to be, and what I was to do with my life.

Q. What was the greatest moment in your career?

A. That is difficult to pinpoint. I get a “high” every time I help a client with a problem or master a difficult task.  If I had to pick a moment, it probably would be when I became an owner of Byler, Wolfe, Lutsch & Kampfer (formerly A.S. Fricano & Co.) in 1991.

Q. What do you do outside the office for fun? 

A. I enjoy gardening, woodworking and spending time with my wife and children. I am on my son’s Boy Scout troop executive committee, and just became the treasurer of the church we attend.