By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – Lindell & Associates P.C. has been serving the Big Sky community for 20 years under the leadership of Richard Lindell for the past 10 years. He bought the firm in 2010 after moving to Big Sky in 2009 and making a commitment to his goals.
Lindell had always wanted to live in the Rocky Mountains and experience a small community with strong family values and an emphasis on an outdoor lifestyle. His ticket to that goal was purchasing a CPA firm and at the time he was looking, Lindell said there were about half a dozen firms for sale within a 200-mile radius of Big Sky.
“However, while driving through the Gallatin Canyon and turning onto the spur road and seeing Lone Peak on the horizon, I realized Big Sky is the place I envisioned,” Lindell said.
Today, the firm still provides the service it was originally founded to provide, which is accounting for the owner’s associations in Big Sky. They also offer income tax services for individuals and businesses here in Big Sky, as well as bookkeeping, payroll and advisory services.
Explore Big Sky sat down with Lindell to learn more about his time owning the firm and what Lindell & Associates does in the Big Sky community.
Some answers below have been edited for brevity.
Explore Big Sky: Tell me about the history of Lindell and Associates. When did it start? How has it grown?
Richard Lindell: Lindell and Associates started as a long-term goal early in my career. I began my career in public accounting in 1987 and loved the work, including working with clients to develop tax strategies and helping with their business goals. While I worked at different firms and in the banking industry, it was always my career goal to have my own firm. Then in 2009, I made a “now or never” commitment to pursue my long-term goal in part because my children were young and I wanted to spend time with them in the mountains. The firm, here in Big Sky, was actually started by Denise Touhy back in the ‘90s, and many long-term locals, and clients I still work with remember Denise fondly. The firm was then sold to Henning & Schwarzkopf PC. The buying and selling of CPA firms is an industry in itself, which is how I acquired the firm in 2010. At the time of purchase, I worked with the prior owners, specifically, Mike Schwarzkopf to manage the transition with the goals to make it seamless to the clients here in Big Sky and cater to Big Sky businesses by living and working here in Big Sky. These objectives have allowed the firm itself, under different ownership, to grow with Big Sky for approximately 30 years. Under my ownership, the firm has continued to grow by maintaining its core values of servicing Big Sky businesses and through word of mouth, along with Big Sky’s growth.
EBS: How big is your team?
R.L.: My team varies between three to five members, who all live here in Big Sky. One of our core values, and while team members come and go as Big Sky residents do, I have been fortunate to have many great team members over the years. I am proud that one of my current team, Justin McKillop graduated from Ophir [School], and upon graduating from Northern Arizona University with a business degree in accounting and a certificate in finance, returned to Big Sky. The team size changes due to the same challenges all Big Sky businesses face, which is employee retention and housing in Big Sky.
EBS: Tell me about the services you provide?
R.L.: The firm has two major services that complement each other and allow for year-round business services. The firm was started in large part to perform accounting for the owners associations in Big Sky, which is still a core service we value and provide. We currently work with approximately 60 associations here in Big Sky, to provide all services ranging from collecting dues, invoicing owners, to financial statements and tax reporting. The firm also provides income tax services for individuals and businesses here in Big Sky, as well as bookkeeping, payroll and advisory services for local businesses.
EBS: What is your favorite part of working at Lindell and Associates?
R.L.: My favorite part of working at Lindell and Associates is actually living in Big Sky and getting to know the business owners and homeowners. We all know how great it is to live here, but as I always describe, I work approximately one minute from my house; I work less than 50 yards from the golf course, 2 miles from one of the best fly-fishing rivers, and approximately 10 miles from one of the best skiing mountains, as well as minutes from the most beautiful hiking trails anywhere. These attributes make it enjoyable to work with my clients as they value the same benefits of living here.
EBS: It’s the firm’s 20-year anniversary and your 10-year anniversary this year. How have you managed and grown your successful business in that time?
R.L: It is the firm’s 20-year anniversary, while I have owned the firm for the last 10 years, and as mentioned previously, the management of the firm has focused on providing accounting services to meet the local needs by being a part of Big Sky. By embracing the Big Sky way of life and getting to know our clients and their businesses, we have been successful in growing the business. Specifically, we are located in Meadow Village in close proximity to the Post Office, which makes it very easy for clients to stop by the office as part of their daily errands, and in Big Sky tradition, no appointment is necessary as we want to be available to our clients.
EBS: What is the best business advice you have ever received?
R.L.: I have received lots of great advice over the years, but one of them was “look where you are going, and don’t focus on where you are.” I think this is very relevant and is commonly used in skiing, especially in Big Sky, i.e. “look where you want to go, and don’t stare at your ski tips; if you do you will most likely fall or hit something.” This advice is pertinent to life and business as looking where you are going translates to having goals, both short term and long term, and don’t focus on the here and now. Also, just like skiing, you will experience bumps and challenges as you pursue your goals, so remember to adjust your course/goals as things change.
EBS: Anything else you would like to add?
R.L.: We enjoy living and working here in Big Sky, and I can’t think of a better place to do so. I recall several conversations with residents who have successfully achieved their goals of retiring in Big Sky, which always reminds me that I don’t have to retire to enjoy being in Big Sky, as I am already living and working here.