Carmen Guerrero-Urbieta
Urbieta Construction
Dayton, Ohio
Big50 1999

I do the books myself — usually a little bit every day, with the bulk of the work on Fridays. One reason is to keep control of what is going on with the money. I can also tell if there is a problem on a specific job. Another is privacy. I've had people help me with payroll and ask why another employee received a raise and they did not. I send the payroll to an outside firm and let them send out the checks. They also keep up with payroll taxes. My CPA comes in two or three times a year to do my taxes and work on financial statements. I've used QuickBooks Pro for accounting for six years. When I first started, I applied for a grant from the state for money to train myself on the program.

Brad Cruickshank
Cruickshank Inc.
Big50 1990

Seventeen years ago, I did my own books using Quicken, which was great because although I didn't know much about accounting, I did understand that certain types of expenditures and income were different. Quicken allowed me to create electronic “shoe boxes” with which I could organize these different transactions for my accountant.

Our accounting has gotten more sophisticated with tax considerations, payroll, and accrual accounts for labor burden and benefits. I hired a full-time office manager the first year we did $1 million. At the time, I was still selling and supervising all of our jobs.

My current office manager (my fourth) has been with me for six years. She came from a large corporate environment with experience in both payables and receivables. Now, doing about $2.5 to $3 million per year, there are just too many transactions for me to ever consider doing them myself, although while my office manager was on maternity leave four years ago, I did fill in for her for two months. We have a “hit by a bus” written procedure that allowed me to muddle through it. In retrospect, I should have hired a temp. It nearly killed me and took me off my sales game.

Dan Kerns
Kerns Construction Specialists
Littleton, Colo.
Big50 1997

I choose to stay small. If I were bigger, I would have to hire someone to do my books. I do them myself, a little bit every day using MultiLedger by CheckMark. Once you learn how to use it, it takes virtually no time. Why pay someone $50 per hour? I've been using it for more than 15 years. It's one of those things that once you learn, you don't want to switch programs. An important part of the training is knowing how to fix your mistakes.

CheckMark is based in Colorado and had trainers here. I hired one of them to install it and show me how to use it. Within two years I added their payroll program. I can write checks in just a few minutes and have them printed.

I do have an accountant, but he just does my quarterly reports.

Steve Farrell
The Farrell Co.
Los Altos, Calif.
Big50 1992

A staff member — the CFO — handles our day-to-day bookkeeping. The CFO updates the books on a weekly basis. This person also does the payroll, contracts, insurances, and retirement program, and is essentially responsible for the entire financial end of the business. We created this position 17 years ago out of the need for a qualified person. The advantages are in-house control and immediate access to information. We use QuickBooks because it is versatile and easy to learn.

Gary Crowley
Crowley Construction
Colchester, Vt.
Big50 2002

My wife/business partner does the books. We started this business together from scratch. She is looking out for the interests of the company. That is an asset. Just as I was learning the ropes of my side of the business, she was learning the ropes on payroll, bills, taxes, and working with accountants. She's had on-the-job training for 20 years. We meet about three times a week to go over invoicing, billing, and payroll. She works directly with our accountant. Our accountant is someone we have known for a long time and someone we trust. She helps us understand what we have to do. Having my wife dedicated to bookkeeping and having a good accountant — that is a valuable combination.