When Specializing is Your Speciality
Von Lehman Shareholders at the Metropolitan Club
Photo by Brian Ambs
When Brian Malthouse ends his day, he asks himself, “Have I made a difference today?” As the president, a shareholder and CPA of VonLehman, Malthouse knows he is not the only one at the firm to ask this question.
“That’s how our organization thinks; we want to make a difference every day,” Malthouse says. “This is amazing in an organization of 100 people. Each individual in our firm makes a difference by helping our clients with something they don’t understand, which is in turn helping the client’s company.”
VonLehman is a CPA and advisory firm that has been around since 1946. The firm goes beyond the traditional accounting and tax services, however. They offer strategic business advice to all companies, but specialize in sectors that help the Tristate economy thrive. The firm concentrates on manufacturing and distribution; construction and real estate development; healthcare and healthcare reimbursement; professional services; not-for-profits; and governmental entities.
Whatever the sector or the service, with almost 70 years of experience, a client can be sure to get the best help and advice. “We are a firm of absolute professionals. We understand the importance of finance in everyone’s life, and we know that what we deal with is incredibly confidential,” Malthouse says. “Everyone that you run into at VonLehman will be a professional, from our receptionist to the president, not only in how they conduct themselves at work, but in the community.”
According to Malthouse, the firm believes in “paying it forward” to the community, whether it’s donating to a cause, “adopting” a family during the holidays or giving school supplies to children in need.
“You have to realize how lucky we are to be living in the United States and to be as educated as we are,” Malthouse says. “You need to take your knowledge and do good with it in the community to help those in need. We preach it all the time, and practice what we preach. For example, we were one of the first companies to work with and for the United Way.”
Keeping an active role in the community is just as important to VonLehman as is being a trusted advisor. According to Malthouse, both roles are vital to the company’s culture and trust factor.
“There is a responsibility that comes with being a professional,” Malthouse says. “Especially a CPA, because studies have shown they are one of the most trusted advisors. We have to earn that trust each and every day.”
One of the ways that the firm earns the confidence of its clients is by keeping up on economic trends. According to Malthouse, each individual in the firm finds various ways to learn.
“The learning never ends,” says Malthouse. “Personally, I attend three or four conferences a year where I talk to other professionals. These are national and international in scope. I learn a lot from my peers in other parts of the country. I also talk to my clients to see what the big issues are in their industries.”
Malthouse keeps a network of friends and professionals available for communication and the sharing of knowledge. He says the people in this network have one thing in common: they want the best for their clients.
“I learn something every single day,” Malthouse says. “I can learn from someone one day out of college, from the most experienced person, from anybody.”
The learning never ends at VonLehman becausethe firm wants to continue growing to provide additional services to its clients and opportunities for its professionals.
“Accounting professionals are unique ... someday you may have the ability to own part of the business. If you work for Procter & Gamble, you don’t have that opportunity. If you work for a small manufacturing company, you don’t have that opportunity. So, it’s very unique,” Malthouse says.
“But one of the things you need for that to happen is growth. We have a responsibility to pass our legacy down to the younger people that help grow our company. It’s not just me retiring, I want to truly grow this organization for them to become owners because I don’t think there is anything better than being an owner of a business today.”
Passing on the legacy of VonLehman will allow the firm to continue its growth, while at the same time keep its cultural values when it comes to dedication to community and the trust of its clients.
“I’ve been a CPA for 32 years and this is the only job I know,” Malthouse says. “I tell friends and family that I have the best job in the world because I get to work with professionals and clients that are business leaders at work and in the community ... the feeling of being able to advise someone like that is incredible.”
“It’s an exciting business that is evolving and constantly changing; there’s no boredom in this job.”
Malthouse’s clients are loyal because they recognize VonLehman’s abilities and commitment to their objectives. Some of his most valued clients want to make it known that VonLehman is a great company to work with.
John Tisdel, president of John Tisdel Distributer of Fine Appliances, has been a client at VonLehman for more than 10 years. Before he hired the firm, he tried multiple other accountants.
According to Tisdel, he knows that VonLehman has been in business for a long time, but that wasn’t the factor when choosing the firm.
“I was attracted to VonLehman because their specialization is in small corporations, which fit me like a glove,” he says. “I wasn’t getting the same level of competency from other firms ... I care about what they know. Do they know the complexities of my business?”
Tisdel meets with Malthouse at least once a month to get a “second set of eyes” on his books. He also works with a few others at VonLehman who give him “attentive and first-class service.”
“Brian is an atypical accountant. His business savvy is beyond the arena of accounting only. He’s very personable; they all are,” Tisdel says. “They comprehend the totality of an organization ... If I say I have a problem and have to speak to them now, they’re on the telephone in a New York minute. You can’t ask for more than that.”
The CEO of Cornerstone Broker Insurance Services Agency, Inc., John Carroll, is another one of VonLehman’s long time clients. He has had a relationship with Malthouse and the firm for more than 20 years.
“Their professionalism and the depth of their knowledge has helped me grow my relationship with them,” Carroll says. “I trust Brian and he gives very good advice.”
VonLehman has given Carroll good tax advice from the start of their business relationship. VonLehman has helped Carroll’s company save money and get through a federal audit. But that’s not the only reason that Carroll has remained a loyal client.
“They’re very giving to the community,” he says. “And Brian is a very strong family man. He treats everyone the same; he doesn’t play favorites.”
“They are a very professional company and they have client concerns in mind,” says Leonard Eppel, president of Financial Resource Associates, crisis management and corporate finance specialists. “And they have great internal resources. We found them to be very receptive to the added services that we can provide.”
Eppel and his company have been working with many accountants at VonLehman for a couple of years, and the relationship has been a beneficial one.
“We benefit from them, and I think they benefit from us as well,” Eppel says. “They introduce us to people that have specific needs, and they are very responsive to us. As a result, they have a tool chest of assets available to meet their clients’ needs directly within the resources of the various parts of the company.”
No matter who is assisting Eppel, he says they reply to his needs in the “most effective way possible.”
Larry Sheakley, CEO of Sheakley, a payroll specialist group, hasmaintained a long association with
VonLehman because they are a “great continuity of people” with “great ideas.”
“We have a long history with them, and my main contact when we first began using them is still my main contact,” Sheakley says.
Sheakley doesn’t just appreciate VonLehman for their stability, however. He also knows that the firm has helped his company.
“They go out of their way to provide forward thinking in all aspects of business,” he says. “Restructuring consulting, finance consulting, turnaround consulting, you name it. They have branched out into very specialized areas in an effort to bring value to their clients.”
Dick Whiting, retired from Whiting Manufacturing, is no stranger to VonLehman’s story of longevity.
“We’ve grown up with Brian. When he took over our account years ago, he was a junior you might say,” Whiting laughs. “Now, he’s president.”
Whiting has been a client for more than 20 years. He chose the company when he realized they were a “better fit than the larger accounting firms.” Since then, according to Whiting, it’s been a “great relationship.”
“They are experts on tax, and they know all the rules and how to apply those rules in the best way possible. They are very aggressive, Brian especially, in his tax work,” he says. “They’re an excellent company that is young and aggressive, and we have certainly enjoyed working with them.”
VonLehman CPA & Advisory Firm is located at 4755 Lake Forest Drive, Suite 100, Cincinnati, OH 45242 and 250 Grandview Drive, Suite 300, Fort Mitchell, KY 41017. You can reach them at 513.891.5911 and 859.331.3300, by email at email@example.com, or visit their website at www.vlcpa.com.