Behind the List with Kristofer DePaolo of Werner & Co. CPAs

'Helping clients from Allentown to Australia'

Owning and operating a successful business is no easy feat.

Managing operating costs, retaining good employees and many other factors are vital to success. And with all of the dollars flowing in and out daily and with the importance of long-term financial planning, it’s imperative to have an accountant.

Throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley, there are accounting and tax preparation firms equipped with the resources to help your business thrive.

One firm that has a significant presence in the region is Werner & Co. CPAs in Lower Macungie Township.

Here to answer this week’s “Behind the List” questions is Kristofer M. DePaolo, CEO of the firm.

Lehigh Valley Business: How long has Werner & Co. CPAs been operating in the region and what are its primary services?

Kristofer M. DePaolo: Andrew Werner opened the practice in 1988, initially from his home office. Almost 30 years later, we have a location in downtown Wescosville on Hamilton Boulevard and another on West Broad Street in Bethlehem.

We focus primarily on tax planning and preparation for business and individual clients. We work directly with the IRS [Internal Revenue Service] on offers in compromise, installment plans, notices and resolution of a broad range of other difficulties for clients having IRS troubles.

Consulting, bookkeeping and payroll services help round out the primary boutique services we offer to our business clients with an emphasis on consulting and planning.

LVB: What have been some of the biggest challenges and opportunities that Werner & Co. CPAs has encountered throughout its years in business?

DePaolo: One challenge has been finding qualified staff. Our firm is unique in that we invite the clients to ask questions and interact with all the staff members, and we need knowledgeable, personable people to help guide our clients.

Our emphasis for staff is work/life balance, and the fact that we have flexible hours and the technology to work from anywhere helps a great deal with that balance.

In the ever-changing world of technology, the paramount issue for us is security.

Like all CPA [Certified Public Accounting] firms, we handle a tremendous amount of sensitive data for our clients and we don’t take that trust lightly. We outsource our information technology and data security to a technically forward-thinking local company that monitors and manages our network 24/7, continuously updating software, virus protection and making sure everything is sound and secure.

By embracing technology, our firm has grown, and now helps clients anywhere from Allentown to Australia.

LVB: How does Werner & Co. CPAs directly stimulate the local economy? How does it get involved with the local community?

DePaolo: I believe small businesses are the lifeblood of communities, providing employment opportunities, understanding their customers on a personal level and innovating service and delivery methods.

Our firm is also a small business, so we understand the information small businesses need to operate effectively. As we develop information for our clients’ required filings, we try always to apply that information to better manage the business and help the owners improve.

By helping our clients generate usable management information, we try give them an advantage within their own segments of the Lehigh Valley economy. We appreciate the loyalty clients give to us, and, whenever we can, we look for opportunities to reciprocate that loyalty.

Our staff all live and work here in the Lehigh Valley and look to give back in any way they can. Some of the ways we contribute are service on boards of local nonprofits, being active within the local Rotary chapters and volunteering time and energy for several causes.

For example, altogether we have dozens of years of board participation with Camelot for Children, Equi-librium, The Swain School and KidsPeace.

LVB: Does Werner & Co. CPAs provide its services solely in the Lehigh Valley, or does it expand into other markets? Who are some of its most notable clients in the region?

DePaolo: Many of our clients are here in the Lehigh Valley and surrounding counties. We do have clients in manufacturing and professional services and the retail industry operating in multiple states and/or living across the country.

With the changes in technology, we can do business anywhere there is an internet connection.

In addition to the industries just mentioned, we serve the real estate industry, financial advisory firms, craft brewers, landscaping companies and private medical practices.

LVB: What does the future look like for Werner & Co. CPAs? Does it have plans for growth?

DePaolo: The future of our profession in whole is bright, and while there will be plenty of changes as automation grows and becomes more involved in all our lives, I don’t believe there will ever be a substitute for client interaction.

Computers can do many things to make our lives easier, but by sitting with clients and helping them with their business, we gain insight and build strong, trusting relationships. In turn, that helps us use our experience to help them avoid problems we’ve seen in the past.

For those and many other reasons, there will always be a significant human element to our practice and the accounting industry.

As for growth, we welcome that small-business owner looking to learn new things, grow their business and take some of the burden off their already overflowing plate.

Christopher Holland
Christopher Holland is a researcher for Lehigh Valley Business and blogs on arts and entertainment in the region.

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