The Last Word: Carl Bagge

BY LOANNA OVERCASH

  

 
 

I am a partner in the three-CPA firm of Bagge, Cennamo & Co. LLP. I spend about half my time in auditing and accounting and the remainder in tax, consulting and peer review.

You have to reach a happy medium with your responsibilities. Being self-employed gives me the liberty to do that. But I have seen people who are completely absorbed in their work, hobbies or family. I am very busy with all three—including my hobbies of sky diving and motorcycling.

Everyone remembers their first jump, and most don’t go on from there, but at the ripe old age of 39, I was hooked from the start. When I travel for business, I often take my gear and sky-dive. I have made about 500 jumps across America.

I parachuted onto the front lawn of the church on my wedding day, dressed in my tuxedo. About 150 guests and my bride were kept waiting outside of the church for me to show up. Earlier that morning, I marked a huge X on the lawn in flour—I landed pretty close to it. Looking back on it now, I think, “What was I doing?” It was probably the most expensive jump I ever made. I had to get permission from the FAA and state agencies—not to mention my wife—and I had to buy insurance.

My most prized possession is a replica of Dennis Hopper’s bike from Easy Rider . I grew up in Springfield, Mass., and began riding at age 16. I was 19 when Easy Rider came out and thought that Dennis Hopper’s bike was the coolest in the world. A company produced a limited number of reproductions, and I had the opportunity to buy one. Whenever I ride it, people recognize the bike big-time. I can’t stop and get a tank of gas without somebody coming over and saying something.

Like many of my contemporaries, I began with a Big Eight firm. At one point, I questioned whether I wanted to stay in public accounting, so I returned to school to get my MBA. Then I rounded out my training with a regional CPA firm in New Hampshire. I hung my own shingle out in 1983, and I continue to learn something new every day.

As a partner in a small firm, you have to wear a lot of hats. It is a very dynamic profession, and the constant change can be overwhelming. The partners of my firm take about 80 hours of education a year and perform 20 to 30 peer reviews. In order to effectively evaluate someone else’s work, you have to know what you’re doing and be on your toes.

Being a part of the profession rather than just being in the profession is important. I’ve been active in the Connecticut Society of CPAs for many years and served a three-year stint on their board of governors. Currently, I serve on FASB’s Private Company Financial Reporting Committee. It was a normal progression to serve on a national committee. Most people who are active in their state society ultimately have some movement toward the AICPA or FASB.

I am also a Vietnam veteran and belong to the American Legion Riders, which honors other veterans. We’ve attended funerals and parades and participated in the Moving Wall, which is a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I have ridden twice in the Rolling Thunder Inc. Memorial Day parade in Washington. Approximately 500,000 bikers assemble at the Pentagon to begin the parade, which honors our nation’s fallen military heroes. I recently bumped into an 83-year-old rider with his wife on the back of his bike. I’m 57 years old. Hopefully, I will be able to continue riding as long as possible.

Likewise, I think of sky diving as a lifelong pursuit. But like everything else, you’ve got to keep it in perspective. I’ll show up at the airport and make only two jumps and leave. People look at me funny, but I have got other things to do. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

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