Looking Back At GC’s History And What’s On The Horizon

By Clive Grimbleby, CPA, MBA

December 22, 2020

To say this year has been out of the norm would, of course, be an understatement. This year has been filled with more changes than we ever could have imagined. However, as I reflect on 2020 and the history of Grimbleby Coleman CPAs, I am extremely proud of our team and the way we have successfully adapted and thrived.

For nearly 40 years, I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the Managing Partner of Grimbleby Coleman CPAs. It has been an absolute joy to watch this company grow from just a few of us to over 60 team members. I am proud to share a bit about our firm through the years and how we’ve grown. I’ve enjoyed being there for it all, past, present, and whatever the future brings!

In 1979 after graduating from CSU Sacramento with my accounting degree in hand, I began working for Coopers and Lybrand as an auditor before going on to an accounting firm in Sacramento. This invaluable experience allowed me to be able to purchase my father, Roy’s Bookkeeping and Tax practice in 1981, and Clive Grimbleby CPA was formed. At that time, we had a Burroughs B80 computer housed in a 700 square-foot space and one employee, whose hard work helped carry the firm for 25 years.

The other half of Grimbleby Coleman, Jeff Coleman, CPA came onboard in 1989 and became Principal in 1992, giving GC its namesake, Grimbleby Coleman CPAs, Inc.

We have been incredibly fortunate to have created the leadership team that we have. Our firm’s talent has continued to grow year after year. In 1989 Sue Hudgens joined the firm and quickly advanced to Principal. We added Lisa Mazza to the lineup in 1996, who gradually progressed from an A&A specialist to a utility player in both tax and accounting, and finally to Principal in 2011. Then we were lucky to have Marty Fox and Jeff Bowman join the team in 2003 and go on to become Partners in the firm.

As our firm grew, so did the need for additional oversight and management. This led to us bring on Jane Johnson in 2004 (thanks to a referral from Sue Hudgens). Jane’s leadership and ability to build our firm culture moved her from not only the Firm Manager, but on to Partner. She is now perfectly placed in her role as COO.

In 2008, Grimbleby Coleman, CPAs went through another phase of growth when we merged with Dunker & Aced CPAs, a firm that had been in practice for over 40 years and was specifically looking for a firm to take care of the employees and clients they had worked with for so long. We very proudly still have employees from Dunker and Aced with us to this day!

We have continued expanding our team and skillset over the years, bringing on some younger talents like Nate Miller, Chad Van Houten, Tami Davis, Doug DeBoer, and don’t think I’ve forgotten, my son, Ian Grimbleby.

As the years go by and changes occur, I am grateful that we’ve never lost sight of our goal. We’re committed to deepening our client relationships and to the growth and evolution of our company. Our ongoing quest for excellence served us well when we were forced to make adjustments to our services.

For years, our firm has been working to better utilize technology to increase our efficiency and offer the best service to our clients. Thankfully, because of the updates we’ve been making, our employees made a swift transition to working from home. The process was not perfect, but our desires to look for ways to utilize technology, before the pandemic hit, provided us with a baseline that allowed us to very quickly continue functioning while working remotely, ensuring that we were able to take care of our clients and protect the well-being of our employees.

The phrase “it’s the people behind the numbers” really held its weight this year. As the SBA issued update after update regarding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other coronavirus relief options, I am grateful that our company spends so much time learning not only tax code but the ins and outs of our clients’ businesses. When PPP notices were released, we were knowledgeable and prepared. We picked up our phones and had great conversations with our clients about what they truly needed from the program.

Our firm showed the strength of its size, as well. As PPP updates rolled out, Marty Fox spent huge amounts of time researching and providing updates to team members and clients. We had confidence in our understanding of the program and its details because we could dedicate time and manpower to mastering its minutiae.

Our bench strength is one of our best assets as we head into 2021, which will be another year of transformation. In other organizations, it is sometimes impossible for upper management to confidently step back and let the next generation take the reins. I am extremely proud that this is not the case for our firm.

You might have been on the receiving end of our succession planning advice over the years — and I’m happy to tell you we take our own medicine. Grimbleby Coleman’s plan to ensure our firm’s next generation of success began many years ago and uses the same process we recommend to our clients.

After many years of hard work and a tremendous amount of strategy and consideration, I am extremely excited to publicly announce that come January 1, 2021, Grimbleby Coleman CPAs will have a new Managing Partner: my son, Ian Grimbleby.

As we have moved through this transition, I have had the pleasure of seeing firsthand how Ian works with our employees and our clients. I have often been impressed by his instinct, his intelligence, his desire to learn, and his ability to look at problems from a different viewpoint. Our broader Principal group shares these qualities, as well, allowing those of us who have been around a bit longer to recognize both the emotional and technical intelligence of the team that will be leading our firm in the years to come.

After years of building a business, it’s an owner’s dream to leave that business in better hands. Our team of Principals has grown in quality and quantity over the years, and I know the firm will continue to flourish for decades to come. There is no doubt, from myself or the other long-time Principals, that Ian and our other enthusiastic Principals are more than capable of steering Grimbleby Coleman CPAs toward a bright future.

Although I am moving away from the Managing Partner role, I am not leaving the Grimbleby Coleman CPAs team. This transition will allow me to do some different and interesting work on the consulting side of our business.

Change can be scary, but after this year I am more confident than ever in our collective ability to weather any storm. Know that we are here to walk through what lies ahead with you. Keep an eye out for our next newsletter and your first message from our new Managing Partner, Ian — I know he is as excited to take over this new role as I am proud of him for doing so!