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Lucky in Lima

A Productivity in Practice Feature

From the Oct. 2008 Issue

Sometimes people see one small part of a successful person’s life and
think, “They sure are lucky.” Well, some of those same people might
consider Jared Walsh “lucky.” And while he thinks the word is misused,
he says he doesn’t mind so long as people understand that his kind of
luck isn’t easy. Or as he puts it, “The harder I work, the luckier
I get.”

The CPA and partner in the Lima, Ohio, accounting firm of Sielschott &
Walsh CPAs, Inc. (,
says that the history of his town, in the heart of the Rust Belt, has resulted
in a culture where people expect to work hard, are resilient and are willing
to change when conditions require it.

Over its 175-year history, many economic blessings and challenges have visited
the residents of this city in the northwest part of the state. At varying times,
Lima has seen booms and busts in manufacturing, oil production, locomotive works
and other ventures. Over the past few decades, times have improved through a
successful shift to medical, retail and service-based industries, in addition
to nearby Ford and Proctor & Gamble plants. This success, he says, is because
of the spirit of the people.
“Ohioans are strong and are emboldened by the challenges that economic
change brings. If times are bad, they won’t look for a handout and they
won’t starve. They help each other get back up, and then find or start
something new because they have faith that things will turn around.”

While he doesn’t speak that way about himself, Jared certainly fits
that definition. At 31, he may seem young for a partner at an 18-person accounting
firm. But as natives of the town, Jared and his family have seen and experienced
many of these economic variations first-hand. This led to his parents inspiring
him to seek a trade or career with a more stable future. Through accounting
classes in high school and the guidance of his teacher, David Eakins, Jared
found his direction and received his degree from Ohio Northern University. Although
tempted by offers from large national firms and also a lingering desire to enter
law enforcement, he knew his real home was Lima, both professionally and personally.

While in college, Jared interned with a few practices, including one started
in 1982 by CPA Robert E. Sielschott. After graduation, he returned and joined
the practice, which Jared says was probably a strategic move. “Bob was
looking at a succession plan. We connected professionally, had the same goals
for the practice, and shared a commitment to the people and businesses in the
local community. So it was a natural fit.”

Since Jared joined the practice in 2001, it has grown from a staff of six,
partially through the acquisition of another local practice, and has expanded
its client base so much that they are considering opening another office. This
past year, the firm managed more than 2,700 individual returns and 500 business
returns, a number that prompts “wows” from many professionals at
similarly sized practices. Jared notes that the firm’s adoption of technology
has allowed it to develop workflows that sustain those high numbers. “You
have to be efficient to manage our workload, so streamlining processes is critical.”
As a part of this effort, the firm mandates e-filing for all individual clients.

In addition to tax compliance, the firm also has a large base of payroll and
compilation clients, while litigation support, tax planning and brokerage services
are also developing into core revenue fields. In addition to his CPA credential,
Jared is a Certified Financial Planner and holds Series 7 and 66 licenses. He
says that he really enjoys these specialty services and that, in addition to
providing clients with valuable benefits, they yield a better margin for the

As evidence of its willingness to adapt technologically, Sielschott &
Walsh CPAs scored a 264 on The CPA Technology Advisor’s Productivity Survey
a free online tool that helps professional tax and accounting practices assess
their use of technology, and offers advice for enhancing their productivity.
Also of note, Jared was selected as one the magazine’s “40 Under
40” in 2006 (,
honoring him as an emerging leader in the profession. (The 2008 “40 Under
40” class of honorees is presented in this issue and online at

As a part of his overall technology plan, Jared has implemented remote access
capabilities like LogMeIn (
He says this has been critical in helping retain seasoned staff, including those
who need to take time occasionally to care for their families. With several
colleges in northwest Ohio, the firm also provides internships, which helps
with production and also provides valuable experience for accounting students.
As a partner now, but having been an intern himself, Jared can obviously appreciate
both factors.

And while the ideas of “flex time” and remote working may have
seemed foreign to the senior partner at the office, Jared says Bob’s been
gracious and accepting in the adoption of new technologies and workflows. “He’s
been great in allowing me to make changes. He sometimes chafes a little at things,
but he has the right attitude and it’s allowed us to succeed.” The
practice also provides staff with occasional morale boosters, which in the past
have included an in-office visit by a massage therapist, a spa day and a family
bowling night.

The heavy workload, especially during tax season, demands a considerable amount
of Jared’s time, but he says that’s actually one of the aspects
he really enjoys because of the interaction with clients. Others in this field
will empathize with his schedule: In the last few weeks before April 15, the
firm takes appointments from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and until noon on
Saturdays, resulting in up to 90-hour workweeks.

“While a few of our clients know they could probably do their own returns
online, they look to us for a larger picture, sort of an annual checkup that
allows us to help them in other ways such as through planning or investment
opportunities, or with general or strategic business advice.” And since
personal finances are often treated as a taboo subject, Jared says that the
relationship with many clients is almost like that of a psychiatrist or member
of the clergy. “Some of our clients have been with us for 25 years; they’re
local people and businesses, and we know them as our neighbors, too. But when
a client is with us, they feel they can let their hair down and ask confidential
questions about anything.”

It all comes down to respecting clients, staff and the community. “We
see ourselves as a part of Lima, and we take our obligations to the community
seriously.” Jared is a member of the Rotary Club and the local YMCA’s
board, and his family is active with the Lima Community Church of the Nazarene.

Although running a successful business is time-consuming, Jared takes the
time to make sure his life is in perspective and that his family stays at the
center of it. His wife, Shonda, is active in raising their son Jackson (4) and
daughter Tatum (2). They started dating their freshman year at Lima Bath High
School and attended the same college. She is also a CPA, having worked for a
few years at a Big 4 firm and in-house. Shonda adds her expertise to the practice
during tax season and also manages the firm’s direct payroll and office
management issues.

Being in a smaller city and having about a 10-minute drive to work gives Jared
the ability to drop in at home as often as he needs or wants, and even to eat
dinner with his family most nights during tax season. “I’m pretty
good at leaving work at the office, so being able to spend time with them keeps
me sane.” Well, that and running. Jared will be competing in his first
marathon on October 19th in Columbus, Ohio. (If you’re in the area, cheer
him on!) He sometimes takes daughter Tatum along while he trains, with her singing
to him from her push stroller.

When the family can escape from regular life for a few days, a favorite destination
is Shonda’s father’s house in Tennessee, where Jared looks forward
to teaching his kids how to fish on the neighboring lake. The Walsh clan also
recently vacationed with the families of Jared’s two brothers in Nags
Head, N.C. When he has only a few minutes of personal time and the kids are
in bed, Jared enjoys historical family profiles such as Ron Chernow’s
profiles of Alexander Hamilton, J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller.

Jared acknowledges that he’s still young and, while he may thrive on
the demands of his career right now, he knows that could change in the future.
“I enjoy tax season and I have a long way to go, but I can’t see
myself ever really retiring. Maybe I’ll settle down to partial work when
I get a lot older, but I love my work, my clients and my community too much
to ever quit.”
So can you attribute Jared’s success to luck? Is he lucky to work up to
90 hours a week during tax season? I’d say, yes, Jared is lucky. He’s
lucky that he was brought up in a family and community that inspired his belief
in hard work and perseverance, and he’s lucky that he’s found a
profession he can’t imagine ever leaving.