Gary Shamis, Mark Goldfarb and Bob Littman, SS&G
In what ways is your company an innovator in its industry, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?
SS&G was the first accounting firm in the nation to implement an Employee Stock Ownership Program. We consider our ESOP among the progressive offerings that have helped us attract and retain top talent, and it’s been a move other professional service firms across the country have emulated.
We also have been innovative with employee programs that support our commitment to a work-life balance. We believe it’s a reason SS&G has one of the highest employee retention rates in the industry.
In addition, SS&G is a founding member of The Leading Edge Alliance, an international partnership of independently owned accounting and consulting firms with more than $2.4 billion in combined revenue.
Adhering to our entrepreneurial spirit, SS&G has experienced record growth recently through improvements and expansion of operations that allow us to better provide for our clients. Much growth stems from our thriving national restaurant practice and rapidly expanding health care entity.
All the while, our focus has remained on providing quality client service. Our professionals are dedicated to providing each client with personal attention and advice to help them excel. We also offer such resources as educational events, tax alerts, industry-specific blogs, and publications that focus on business growth.
How does your organization make a significant impact on the community and regional economy, either through charitable contributions, volunteerism or setting an example for other organizations & leaders to follow?
SS&G fosters a culture of philanthropy. We support a number of organizations through financial donations and hundreds of hours in service to the community. Many members of our staff sit on the boards of various organizations, from the Akron Zoological Park to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. SS&G also sponsors a number of events and programs, including the Akron Marathon and our annual golf outing, which has raised more than $350,000 for the Greater East (Ohio) chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, employees have opportunities throughout the year with internal initiatives to support local nonprofit organizations, either through charitable donations or involvement in philanthropic activities. For all these efforts, SS&G has been recognized multiple times, including in 2011, with the Pillar Award for Community Service.
Give us an example of a business challenge your organization faced during its growth, as well as how you overcame it.
As SS&G began to experience an onset of significant growth about 20 years ago, we identified a need to improve our outlook on work-life balance. As we witnessed, many CPA firms let promising female accountants quit their jobs because they were unable and unwilling to sacrifice family time to spend long hours in the office, we knew we could do better. SS&G reshaped our culture and policies so our valuable female employees would know they could excel professionally without having to miss soccer games, school plays and family dinners. SS&G now has one of the highest percentages of women partners of any CPA firm in the country, and we’ve become a model for the profession.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned as a business leader, an entrepreneur, or as an organization, and how have you applied this lesson toward fostering growth?
We know we’re only as good as our employees, so we understand it’s important to be strategic with each and every hire. We believe one must hire smart, skilled people whose values match the company’s. It’s essential to then mentor them — especially the younger professionals — and provide opportunities for them to advance and succeed. Since our inception in 1968, SS&G has made concerted efforts to build a great team, offer a means for them to excel, and ensure it’s done in an enjoyable work environment.