New accounting firm experienced in lakes area
Three heads were better than one when the accounting firm of Hintermeister, Schultz & Sletmoen started at the first of the year.
Two members of the trio, John Hintermeister and Mark Schultz, have worked in Detroit Lakes for years, while Heather Sletmoen plied her trade in the Twin Cities area before moving to Detroit Lakes five years ago.
Running independent businesses, Hintermeister and Schultz worked out of the same building at 421 West Main St. in Detroit Lakes next to the fire station for nearly 10 years.
"I don't know how it's been that long," Schultz said.
Hintermeister moved up to Detroit Lakes in 1980 and worked for two different accounting firms before setting up on his own firm in 1984. Sletmoen moved to Detroit Lakes with her family in 2004, but kept working for the same firm in the Twin Cities from her home until late last year.
When she set out on her own, Sletmoen said she was in talks with the other two before joining up.
The reality of the accounting business was a major factor in the decision to come together, Hintermeister said.
"To me, the business is getting tougher and harder to be alone in the one-person office type of thing," he said. "Sharing experiences is probably one of the keys we have. And then we all have a similar philosophy on life, and how we approach our clients and families."
Schultz said combining into one firm means that there are more resources at hand.
"I didn't have a lot of other staff help to answer phones," he said.
He said that the combined firm allows him to focus more on the accounting portion, rather than the day-to-day minutia of operating a business.
"Maybe my weaknesses are his strengths," Schultz said of the ability to bounce things off Hintermeister, and also Sloetmen.
Despite being so close together while working separately, it wasn't the same as working in the same company.
Being the new member of the group, Sloetmen said that the other two have been helpful.
"They took me in and treated me well," she said. "It feels good to have a place to come to work instead of my basement."
Always on their toes
The accounting business itself never stays static, Hintermeister said.
With new tax laws and regulations coming down every year, it's an educational process to keep up with everything. He said that five to 10 laws change every year that affect the accounting business.
"We've done a good job with keeping up," Hintermeister said.
In addition to just crunching numbers, data security is also part of the job.
"We've tried to keep on the forefront of technology," Hintermeister said.
"There's tons of stuff," Sletmoen added.
Schultz said that accountants get calls over other issues besides simple taxes.
"So much are offshoots," he said.
With the Cash for Clunkers program, plus energy credits, Schultz said that the public is curious on how it affects them.
"A lot of people have a lot of questions," he said.
It turns out that accounting is a people business.
"We've had so many great clients," Hintermeister said. "It makes it worthwhile. There are financial rewards, but without those relationships there, this job would be too tough for any of us."
Hintermeister, Schultz & Sletmoen will be hosting an open house Friday from noon until 5 p.m.
The office building can be reached by turning west on Front Street from Summit Avenue and then turning north on Oak Grove Avenue.
The firm can be reached at 847-9523 or on the Web at www.cpahss.com.