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July 2011
Climbing New Heights for Their Clients
By Carol Gifford

     Probably few accountants can be found scaling the heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro or hiking across the tundra in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge with their clients, something that Bucky Glover, CPA, CVA, a partner at Potter & Company, P.A., a local certified public accounting firm headquartered in Monroe, has done more than once.

     Glover likes the sense of adventure. He is drawn by the sense of learning or seeing something new. He is friends with his clients. Over the years he’s engaged in numerous adventures alongside his clients—taught scuba diving, taken extended backpacking trips and ridden bicycles to the beach.

     He’s an accountant that enjoys being with his clients.

     “Spending time, doing fun things with my friends, who happen to be clients, is where I truly learn their life’s goals,” says Glover. “You spend time with and listen; you can see what motivates your client.

     “My job as a professional is to help that client achieve their goal. My clients are my friends; I care about their success on a personal as well as a professional level. Knowing your client well can help you think or anticipate for them.”

 

Fresh Impression

     Glover understands that people may not think accounting is a very glamorous profession, but he thinks it’s just a case of misunderstanding.

     “We accountants aren’t dull people,” says Glover. “We just get excited about dull things like tax law. It’s is a good day when someone tells me, ‘You are not a typical accountant!’”

     Glover and his partners at Potter & Company are working to change that first impression. The company of 30-plus accountants has been serving clients in the Charlotte metro area for more than 40 years.

     The firm’s partners include: Jan M. Glover, partner and Bucky’s wife; Samuel M. Leder, partner; John W. Kapelar, managing director; Robert W. Taylor, partner, and Donna S. Taylor, partner and Robert’s wife.

     With a long history of working for accounting giants such as Arthur Andersen and KPMG, as well as companies in various industries, the partners are experienced in a wide range of business operations and practices.

     Bucky and Jan Glover have the longest tenure at the firm, arriving in 1979, to join founder Lee Potter. Potter had started the firm during the 1960s after working for Deloitte.

     The opportunity to make a meaningful difference for a client was what attracted Bucky and Jan to Potter & Company. They both valued their prior experience at larger firms with large and capable staffs. But, as Jan Glover states, “At Potter we have more opportunities to work directly with the business owner to help them achieve their financial goals. It is not just about providing audit and tax services; it is about business improvement planning and developing pathways to reach your goals.”

     The Glovers recruited other partners who were holistically dedicated to achieving business success for clients. They recruited Kapelar in 1993, who joined the firm as a college intern and then came on full-time after graduation. He now serves as the managing director of the firm.

     Partner Sam Leder joined the firm in 1995 after having started his career working in the manufacturing industry. Sam has worked his way up to become the leading partner in the Concord office.

     The Glovers also recruited friends Robert and Donna Taylor, who joined Potter & Company in 2003 when the Mooresville office was opened.

     Professional accounting, business consulting and tax are all core services of Potter & Company. Some other services routinely offered include: business improvement implementation teams, internal control systems, wealth creation strategies, asset protection, management services for contractors, litigation support, expert witness service and employee benefit plans, along with a full component of financial and accounting services.

     “What we bring to the table is all the specialized accounting services—and more,” says Glover. “Accounting is not the end product, but the language we use to converse with our clients.”

     “We bring a business approach to our clients,” he says, “a set of problem-solving skills to help them improve their business operations. Accounting is historical information. Clients want you to anticipate the unexpected and to help them plan ahead.”

     Glover cites one situation when a Potter & Company was referred a construction company that was experiencing financial issues. They were able to bring in experts to manage a company “overhaul.”

     “We found a professional experienced in construction management to lead the turnaround and we worked together with the company for almost three years,” explains Glover. “The client was able to get its jobs done quicker, bring costs down, and complete projects more efficiently, all leading to a more profitable bottom line.”

     Another time, continues Glover, a client wanted to get his business ready to sell. When he contacted Potter & Company, the firm was able to work with him and guide his operations, significantly increasing the value of the company when it was sold. Potter & Company also helped negotiated and structure the sale to maximize benefits for their client.

     “The client was a friend—we understood his family’s goals and, in some measure, we helped him achieve a very successful sale,” states Glover.

     Relating the work to his outside interests, Glover says, “I like to go places, knowing what I want to accomplish, and find my way there. Developing a pathway to reach the destination is the fun part of business.”

 

Solid Footing

     “In addition to the tax statements, audits and the trade side of services, we offer service to make businesses more productive and improve the overall profitability,” Glover says.

     Potter & Company has found its business consulting work is growing, especially in these turbulent economic times, because companies need assistance in improving business operations and profitability more than ever.

     “You can cut costs, but you cannot save your way to a profit. You have to look at methods to increase productivity and revenue,” he says, revealing his accountant nature.

     In addition to its Monroe headquarters, Potter & Company has three other offices in the metro area—Charlotte, Concord and Mooresville—to serve clientele. Clients, says Glover, range from one-person shops to 250- to 300-employee businesses. Most clients are located in the Charlotte metropolitan area.

     It’s a big change from when Glover started with the firm.

     “When I came to work for Mr. Potter in 1979, we had five employees. We worked on developing business knowledge of the unique issues facing the privately or family owned business to grow our client base.

     Today, he says, the firm’s four major industry groups are manufacturing and distributing, construction and real estate, public entities, and professional services. In addition, the firm serves dealerships, employee benefit plans, trade associations, agribusiness, and governmental entities.

     Strategic planning is the key to growing its business, says Glover, and the firm holds regular planning meetings to set annual goals for Potter & Company’s business operations, just like it does for any other business client.

     The firm has made a conscious effort to diversify over the past few years and growing its client base helped. Potter & Company opened its Charlotte office two years ago, and has been networking to become a business partner in the area.

     “It just made sense to add a new office so that we could better serve our clients in that geographic base,” says Glover.

     With regard to the recent challenging economic times, Glover says, “Some of our clients have suffered with the economy, but we did pretty well weathering the storm. It is painful to see friends struggle with the economy but we will continue to help our clients make their way through it successfully.”

 

Solid Values

     Involvement in local communities is a company priority. Partners and employees get involved with local groups and actively participate in the community.

     “We serve the community that we live in,” says Glover. “We believe in giving without the expectation of any return. We offer our expertise and advice to community groups and strive to be leaders in the community, participating in Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce and community organizations.”

     One of the firm’s initiatives, Accountants for Arts & Apples, is another way the company helps out, to “add a little color to the black and white world we live in,” says Glover. Each year for the past 12, fourth-graders submit pictures to be judged in a contest for scholarships. Each winning entry is then showcased on holiday cards and firm literature.

     The thing Glover likes most about the contest is that company clients have been so intrigued by the idea that they have implemented their own artwork contests.

     Another way that Potter & Company gives back is in its participation in improving the profession. Glover is a member of the North Carolina licensing board for accountants, a role that allows him to help shape the practice and find out about new techniques and values. He was appointed to the three-year position by Gov. Bev Perdue. Glover was also nominated to serve on the Board of Directors for the National Association of State Boards of Accounting.

     Additionally, Glover and his wife Jan, along with Bob and Donna Taylor, have served or are currently serving on the Peer Review Committee for the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants.

     Taylor serves as chairman of the Long-Range Planning Committee for the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants (NCACPA) and John Kapelar served on the NCACPA Young CPA Cabinet. Both Bucky Glover and Robert Taylor have served as President of the NCACPA.

 

Forward Thinking

     A “Visionary”—that’s the honor recently bestowed upon Glover by the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants this spring. The Visionary Award is recognition of his professional foresight when he served as president of the organization.

     While serving as president-elect in 2001, Glover remembers looking around the room at one of the larger meetings and noticing that the leadership of the association was very “middle-aged.” Says Glover, “I thought, ‘We’re not doing the things we need to do to attract the young professional to the business of the Association and this profession in North Carolina.’”

     “It seemed like a perfect time to implement a business plan to get younger colleagues involved and to train them as future leaders of our organization. So, we started the Young CPA Cabinet.”

     A decade later, Glover says, things have changed. Young professional are involved and the Young CPA Cabinet provides a lot of energy and leaders for the NCACPA. At the award banquet Young CPAs were asked to stand. When nearly half the room stood up, Glover couldn’t hide his satisfaction.

     “It’s nice to know you had a good idea and something came out of it,” remembers Glover. “It was a great feeling of satisfaction and reward.”

     He relates the experience to the larger picture: “Our firm does not concentrate on being successful, but rather on being significant to our clients and communities. Success will follow. If generosity plays out in our daily lives, our professionalism will surely shine through.”

 

Carol Gifford is a Charlotte-based freelance writer.
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