Steve Taylor, CPA




Taylor, Roth and Co. PLLC

We call it the mobile practice. My firm is based in Denver, but my wife, Judy, and I, along with our dog, Annie, live and travel in our motor home to our nonprofit audit clients across Colorado and New Mexico most of the year, then retreat to the Texas coast in the winter.

We have so many experiences: driving over a mountain pass, watching a fantastic sunset or sunrise, or just waking up in the morning at a favorite campsite. When we do the annual audit for the Creede Repertory Theatre in Creede, Colo., we camp at the headwaters of the Rio Grande. We get excellent trout fishing right outside our door in the midst of spectacular high-country scenery. Not the typical auditing assignment, but then, my wife and I have never aspired to be typical. We were kids together before we got married 40-plus years ago. We did what we wanted then, and we’re still making it up as we go along.

It has been a circuitous route. Growing up in a big city, longing to escape to the mountains, I had it all mapped out. I would join the Army and become a paratrooper. When I got out of the Army, I would go on to be a smoke jumper for the Forest Service and then a forest ranger. But reality intervened and I ended up an accountant. Who would have guessed that my accounting career would eventually lead us to the mountains and forests after all?

I graduated with my degree in accounting and went to work with Peat Marwick in Seattle. Later, in Denver, I worked for a local firm that did a lot of government and nonprofit work and discovered my niche, working with small nonprofit organizations. In the 1980s, I opened my own firm specializing in auditing nonprofits. Over the years, Judy and I would sometimes go out together in the motor home to do the occasional job away from the Denver area as a favor to someone who couldn’t find a local auditor. We enjoyed these times out together and finally had the “aha” moment and said, “Wait a minute, why don’t we do these jobs on purpose?” We did a little promotion and within two years had saturated our capacity. We have recently hired another roving auditor and will probably hire another next year.

Nonprofit organizations can use a specialist just like everybody else. In the Denver area, there are lots of CPA firms, and several specialize in nonprofits. In smaller towns, CPAs are more likely to be generalists. Our service gives the nonprofits out there the opportunity to hire a specialist. They can pay us a fair fee for the job, and we can combine doing the work we like to do with being in lots of interesting places.

Annie is part of what we do. Sometimes we call her Annie the Wonder Dog because she’s smart and does a lot of tricks. Annie is a favorite with clients, and if their operations include senior services or a preschool, Judy and Annie perform for 10 or 15 minutes. Annie does all the usual dog tricks plus pretty much anything else you ask of her. Judy will have kids lie on the floor next to each other and see how many Annie can jump at a time before she lands on someone’s stomach. We do a hypnosis routine. I have her sit up and watch my finger as I move it back and forth. In response to subtle commands from me, she lies down, then plops over on her side in an apparent trance. It goes on from there and is always a big hit.

We hear a lot about the work/life balance at conferences now, and we’ve certainly found it. We love what we do for a living, and, being gypsies at heart, we get to live our life on the road as well.


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