WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS — Mark Adamchick, the accountant behind Mark I. Adamchick, CPA & Associates, said he values his customers over the money they bring in. Photos by Lizz Schumer.
SPRINGVILLE — Mark Adamchick, certified public accountant, has worked for Erie County and town government, two large accounting firms and others, for years. This year, Mark I. Adamchick, CPA & Associates has opened its North Buffalo doors to tax customers, small businesses and nonprofits full-time, for the first time since he started the business in 2008. Then, he had 50 customers. Today, he will help more than 300 do their taxes, complete audits and reviews, review operating procedures and handle payroll and finances. Gathering clients from referrals and word-of-mouth, Adamchick said that he didn’t even have to advertise, last year. This year, with a full schedule and having hired his first-ever employee, he’s ready to take the business to the next level – and take on whatever challenges Western New York has for him.
“It’s like a puzzle,” he said, of figuring out a business’s finances. “I love the work. If someone’s been taking care of the bookkeeping, you have to look at it and figure out, ‘what does this say and what is it supposed to say?’ You have to put the pieces together to see what really happened and make [the books] say what they mean.”
Adamchick got his masters degree in business administration at St. Bonaventure University, before working for accounting firms Toski, Schaeffer and Co. in Amherst and Gaines, Kriner and Elliott, to get the necessary experience for his CPA license. Both have since been purchased by larger firms.
I SAW THE SIGN — The business is located at 12 North Buffalo St. in Springville.
“It was unbelievable experience,” he said, of working for those companies. “Paul Dayer, a man I worked with, actually helps write standards for [the Financial Accounting Standards Board],” which Adamchick explained sets the governance for CPAs.
As a self-monitored entity, all CPAs are overseen by The American Institute of Public Accountants, which requires that every CPA has the necessary education and standards of ethics to keep the profession accountable. That includes more than 40 hours of required annual education, in order to keep a CPA license current; 80 hours if, like Adamchick, the CPA works with government accounts. Since he works with taxes and audits, Adamchick must keep his education in those areas up to date, as well.
He said that he likes that education, because it keeps him current, keeps him accountable and keeps him sharp.
“Some businesses will call me to do their bookkeeping and I can do in 2 or 3 hours a week what they had someone on the payroll to do for 40 hours a week,” Adamchick said. “It’s because I have a lot of experience. I know this stuff; I know what to look for.”
A member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Buffalo, Adamchick counts the Allentown Art Festival in Buffalo and the town of Colden as two entities he works with, although he also takes on nonprofits and small businesses, from as far afield as Alden and Clarence to right down the street from his Springville storefront.
“What happens with some of the towns, some of the smaller businesses, is they have someone [doing bookkeeping] who doesn’t really know what they’re doing. They don’t have the money, so they get someone who isn’t very on top of it. I can go in and help out.”
While many businesses “wait until they have a problem to call,” according to the CPA, he said that he still turns around the work faster than many larger firms, who push smaller businesses and independent clients to the back burner.
“A lot of places put off the smaller guys and just keep extending and extending [the deadline],” Adamchick said. “I don’t extend. If taxes are due the 15th, I see no reason not to get your business’s taxes in on the 15th.”
He said that, as an independent CPA, his prices are more reasonable than what he calls “the big-box stores.”
“A lot of places will hire tax preparers in December, to start in January,” he said. “As a CPA, I’ve taken new clients who came from a big-box and I can redo their returns, find them more money and my prices are better.”
Adamchick said that, rather than charging by the form for personal taxes, he charges by the hour.
“It’s more honest,” he said. “If I have to add a form, it’s literally a few clicks. Why would I charge $100 for three keystrokes?”
Another difference in Adamchick’s tax preparation is his method. Unlike larger operations, he won’t prepare people’s taxes while they sit and wait.
“If you’re there in front of me, we’ll get talking, we’ll get onto another subject,” he said. “I want to put all of my concentration on what I’m doing, on your taxes. I like to get the return, get the info and then give it a few days, then review it.”
Every three years, Adamchick is required to undergo an audit by another firm, so that the peer reviewer makes sure his processes are correct, ethical and to the standards of the organization. That system of checks and balances keeps CPAs honest.
“There’s more fraud out there than people realize,” he said. “If you’ve got someone signing the checks, doing the books and depositing the checks, there’s no one checking up [on that]. If a person can rationalize it, if they can tell themselves they need [the money] and they can get away with it, they will. We have controls in place so that can’t happen.”
During the upcoming tax season, the bulk of Adamchick’s work is tax preparation, he said. Although that has led to 70- or 80-hour weeks, he likes it that way.
“When I’m busy, I’m happy,” he said. Although he has turned around a tax preparation in eight hours, Adamchick said he likes to take a week with a person’s taxes, to give himself time to do it right.
As an accountant, doing it right is what is most important to Adamchick.
“How I treat people and the service I’m giving people is what’s most import to me,” he said, of how he can work so much for less money than other firms. “The money isn’t the important part; the people are.”
In keeping with that mission, Adamchick will drop off and pick up materials from clients who are unable to get to the office, such as the elderly and homebound. He has met clients from the northern Buffalo suburbs at a halfway point and even has retirees living in Florida mail him their materials, so he can continue doing business with them.
“If you need to meet me at a time outside my hours, if you need help getting to me, we can do that,” he said.
Adamchick said that’s what he likes about Springville, after working in larger cities like Amherst and Buffalo: the willingness to help each other.
“It’s a friendly place. Springville doesn’t have that uppityness [of other towns],” he said. “I can walk down the street and get lunch, get my coffee. It’s a nice little place.”
Adamchick’s office is located at 12 North Buffalo St. in Springville, and can be reached at 982-8585. The office is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Thursday, but will stay open until 8 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, starting Feb. 15.
Adamchick will also take clients outside those hours, by appointment.