Many years ago, a large financial firm sought us out to see if we could help them reduce their tax liabilities and improve their cash flow. Through cost segregation and accelerating their asset depreciation schedules, our team of tax and fixed asset experts was able to uncover millions of dollars in tax savings.
A short time after completing the work, a senior vice president of the company confided in me that the company had planned to lay off 200 people. Because of the tax savings we uncovered, the plan was scrapped, and the employees were spared. It’s still very emotional for me knowing 200 families were positively impacted by our work.
That’s one of hundreds of feel-good stories that fulfill our mission to create greater abundance for the people we work with. That means saving jobs, helping families thrive and giving companies more reasons to succeed. Like most founders, my personal values led me to start Paragon and they continue to be important today as we light another candle on our 35th anniversary cake.
Over these 35 years, we’ve strived to stay true to our mission of helping others. Along the way, we have met some wonderful people and built lifelong friendships. I am grateful for the trust our clients have placed in us. Many have been with us for decades and have referred others to us. One of those clients is a national health insurance company that recognizes our ongoing value and invites us to speak at its annual tax conferences.
It’s a Family Affair
My son Scott and daughter Shelle joined Paragon two decades ago. Grateful? Absolutely! Because it has elevated the company from solopreneurship to a family-run business. Besides, I am very proud to have my children by my side.
Over the past 25 years, Scott has really grown the fixed assets management side of our business. We were the first Sage Fixed Assets (SFA) business partner, back to when it was under the Best Software brand, and Scott speaks every year at the Sage Summits. The depth and breadth of our team’s knowledge of SFA, and our end-to-end services supporting it has made life easier for many clients, especially those in need of turnkey solutions.
One such client has acquired different companies over the years, and each time, they have tapped Paragon’s skills to ensure that their fixed assets are properly tracked and the integration of their fixed asset accounting data is seamless. As a result, the client’s finance director says it has saved a “huge” amount of money. It eliminated redundancy, saved a lot of time in doing projects, minimized income taxes and reduced the time in producing financial forecasts and projections. Our SFA expertise paid off big for this client.
In fact, our team may be the country’s foremost expert in Sage Fixed Assets solutions and fixed asset management. That includes our staff, which I also consider part of my family. Many of them have been at Paragon for well over a decade. They are instrumental to the exemplary level of service we provide. Our clients appreciate their knowledge and the seamless consistency they bring to every project, regardless of size. The Paragon team is often referred to as our clients’ valued partners, a term that we continue to earn and never take for granted. We are truly fixed asset experts.
No company that has survived 35 years can possibly do it alone. Our partners of certified public accountants, commercial real estate developers, architects, and tax and financial advisors have trusted us with their clients. If in some small way we have helped them strengthen their relationships, realize growth or simply made their day a little brighter, I am grateful for that.
We earn a living because of our services, but we have built our legacy on our values and the desire to help others succeed. We have watched each other’s children grow up and have even attended a wedding or two. We’re like family.
Following Our True North
I’m not sure how most people find their true north. For me, Paragon has shaped a life where improving other people’s lives has been more satisfying than personally making money or landing on the front cover of a business magazine. Our clients run the gamut from local and privately-held to global Fortune 100 companies. They are in diverse industries such as hotels/resorts, restaurants, entertainment, manufacturing, pharmaceutical/biomedical, health care, insurance, legal, banking/financial services, commercial real estate and more. If their business invests heavily in fixed assets, we can help them.
Over the past 35 years, I know that we’ve helped many of them during economic downturns, from the tech bubble of 1999-2001, to the 2008-2009 recession, and even today during the pandemic. Over the years, I’ve heard similar stories about how we saved peoples’ livelihoods.
While our clients are always looking for tax savings, improved cash flow and a more efficient way to track and manage their fixed assets, these efforts often are accentuated during difficult economic times, like we’re experiencing today with the pandemic (not an ideal time to have a milestone anniversary celebration!). We go so much deeper than many tax departments, accountants and CPA firms typically go. Our team of tax experts, architects and engineers often uncover hidden tax savings that they didn’t know existed.
For example, one client purchased a property in 2007 for $24 million. We know what happened to the real estate market the next year. Well, he called Paragon to see how we could help. We saved him millions, which saved his business, and eventually allowed him to expand and buy other properties. That same customer bought a property just before this year’s pandemic. The $867,000 he saved on his 2019 tax return allowed him to keep many of his people employed. More jobs saved. More gratitude.
We have also been there for clients who are on tight deadlines.
One of our clients, who is the tax director for a national chain of pizza restaurants, had to do a tax reform change. She has the SFA software but had no time to provide us with the massive amount of data to help her with her financial reporting. Scott connected remotely into her computer and worked with her through the steps.
The client said “He went the extra mile for me. It was crunch time and a really big deal. He literally saved me hours.” We are grateful to be helpful and make a difference in our client’s work life.
Sales Techniques May Change, But the Value of Relationships Does Not
I remember a time in St. Louis when our sales rep was taking me to the airport. I saw a sign on a building and said, “Hey, what do they do?” He didn’t know. I had a couple of hours before my flight so I had him pull into the parking lot. We went in and asked for the tax manager. The receptionist asked if we had an appointment. We didn’t. She called the tax manager down. It turns out he had started at the company a few weeks earlier, and he was in need of our tax valuation services.
We got the work for the St. Louis property and then 29 of their properties across the country. I call that one “dumb luck,” but anyone in business knows that sometimes you need dumb luck. That was prior to the Internet, and long before cell phones. It was a time when people cold called on potential clients and showed up in person.
That tax manager moved on to another company and we remain in contact today.
Today, there is no dropping in on a business unannounced and there are far less human beings even answering businesses’ phone lines. However, I still prefer the face-to-face interaction, phone calls and handwritten notes, because our business is about relationships.
No matter how many things change in business, though, one thing remains the same: values. Ours are the same as they were 35 years ago:
- Integrity first
- Relentless pursuit of opportunity
- Relationships matter
- There’s always a way through
- Enriching the lives of people we serve
To that end, thank YOU! I hope this blog has inspired you to think about your values and how you share them in your work. And since we can’t share cake and ice cream together at the present time, the next time we see each other, the cake’s on me.
By Rick Swarts, Founder and CEO of Paragon International, Inc. Curious about our beginnings? Read Our Story.