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Banking & Finance  April 8, 2011

April not so taxing for accounting family

LOVELAND – As income tax season kicks into high gear, the families of accountants know they won’t be seeing much of their loved one until sometime after mid-April.

Unless, of course, the entire family works in the accounting business, like the Muellers.

Teresa and Paul Mueller are both CPAs, and had vacationed in Colorado often when they lived in Houston. By early 2009 they decided they’d like to live here full time, so they left Texas behind and began establishing Mueller & Associates CPA LLC in Loveland.

Paul Mueller remembers those hectic times well.

“We’d only been in town for a year and our business was growing quickly,” he said. “Teresa was spending too much time out front handling the phones or with clients when they came to pick up their paperwork. We made a strategic decision to hire a full-time associate and a full-time office manager. We were ready.”

As they contemplated the time that finding the right people would require, they suddenly realized they already knew the perfect candidates: their daughter Ingrid and her husband, Lou Bush, back in Houston.

Paul had worked with Ingrid professionally before, and he and Teresa wasted no time in presenting their proposal to the younger couple. They leapt at the opportunity to move to Loveland.

“There is a certain level of dependability built in,” Paul said. “When we hired Lou and Ingrid, there were not a lot of unknowns. We already knew their strengths.”

“The best thing about being in a family business is knowing who you are working with from day one,” Lou Bush said. “There isn’t really a ‘getting to know everyone’ curve like most places when you start a new job without knowing your co-workers.”

Within Mueller & Associates, each person’s particular capabilities are put to good use for the firm’s 600 clients.

“We all pitch in, say what needs to be done, and do the job as expected,” Teresa said.

Paul is the expert on taxes. Lou performs audits. Ingrid’s knowledge is in marketing and management, while Teresa’s expertise lies in accounting with Quick Books. She also serves as the only representative from Colorado on Intuit’s Accountant and Advisor Customer Council.

Smooth workflow

The family members have established a smooth daily workflow which has allowed other employees to quickly become part of the dynamic. Within the office, respect and regard for one another is obvious, and all of the co-workers address each other by their first names.

Ingrid said this paradigm developed naturally.

“Previously, when my dad and I worked together at the same firm, I thought it sounded better for me to say, ‘Paul needs to see you’ rather than ‘my dad needs to see you.’ But when 5 o’clock comes, it switches back to ‘Dad’.”

The Mueller family’s combination of skills and expertise have produced a successful firm. Whether going into business with relatives is a long-cherished dream or a serendipitous inspiration, to make it work Lou says it is essential to truly know your family.

“Being with family and visiting with them on holidays is one thing, but when you are working in a business, there has to be a successful dynamic among everyone involved,” he said. “From the top down, it still must be approached and treated like any other business in order to be successful.”

“The very fact that we are a family requires a natural sense of professionalism without being stuffy,” Ingrid added. “The best thing about working together here is our flexibility. We have a comfortable professional environment that isn’t too rigid.”

The flexibility also allows members of the firm to be involved in the life of the community.

“Simply being in a city with the small-town closeness Loveland has demands getting out of the office and out into the community,” Lou said.

Family members can be found serving on boards and being part of nonprofit organizations such as the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and its work on the Rialto Bridge project in downtown.

“Things are happening and it feels like we are right there on the edge of big things coming,” Teresa said.

LOVELAND – As income tax season kicks into high gear, the families of accountants know they won’t be seeing much of their loved one until sometime after mid-April.

Unless, of course, the entire family works in the accounting business, like the Muellers.

Teresa and Paul Mueller are both CPAs, and had vacationed in Colorado often when they lived in Houston. By early 2009 they decided they’d like to live here full time, so they left Texas behind and began establishing Mueller & Associates CPA LLC in Loveland.

Paul Mueller remembers those hectic times well.

“We’d only been in town for a…

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