Opsahl Dawson has roots that date back to 1979. Founded by George Opsahl and then acquired by Aaron Dawson and Jen Dawson in 2011, the firm has been on a steady growth trajectory. The company’s tagline ‘Accounting for a New Age’ incorporates its devotion to using the latest tools and technology, in addition to employing the most talented CPAs that are passionate about relationship building. This year, the firm was voted one of the top 52 firms to work for by Accounting Today, and it now employs more than 90 people across Vancouver and Longview, as well as remotely.
In August of 2022, Tim Schiller merged his firm with Opsahl Dawson and thus became partial owner of the company.
“Our firm currently has nine shareholders, and we plan to grow that ownership pool through our ‘Path to Partnership’ program,” Aaron explained. “The path to partnership is a program that identifies our top leaders in the firm and allows them to obtain ownership in our business and be rewarded for their successes. The better the firm does, the better we all do. We are working on the details of our new program but essentially it will be more transparent than ever before, setting goals for upcoming leaders and timelines so they know what they are working towards with a more defined career path. We know our firm’s success is based on the success of our team members.”
Dawson said that he often hears people saying that their CPA retired or simply won’t return their phone call. That’s why the team at Opsahl Dawson has worked hard to create a culture that’s truly committed to people. They return all calls within 24 hours and train their staff on the importance of that 24-hour rule.
He also explains that graduation rates for accounting students have been steadily declining, and less people are completing the CPA exam due to the license now requiring five years of college credits.
“Additionally, CPAs are not wanting to work the grueling hours they have in the past to meet client demands,” he said. “Work/life balance is here to stay, and that is part of our culture. We also strive to be proactive and organized so tax season isn’t such a challenge. We work hard with our clients to schedule when their taxes are done which allows us to spread the workload over several months…this takes planning and good communication with our client. Without that planning, everyone will push taxes off until April and that will be too overwhelming for our staff, as demand is highest at the end of tax season. We get started on taxes and planning even before the new year – we start preparing in November. Being proactive is something we work hard at.
Looking at the future, Dawson is thrilled at what’s coming. The firm is currently working on fine-tuning their management procedures so they can continue to grow. They currently have 4,000 clients and are adding about 1,000 per year.
“We plan to double in size next year through target acquisitions,” he said. “We plan to make strategic acquisitions up and down I-5 from Seattle to Portland. We want to make ourselves available to new markets who are yearning for a fresh face in their region for tax preparation. We love taking on new clients, growth is fun for us,” Dawson said.