Mike Bark, principal of Edge Advisors, LLC
Address: 6737 W. Washington St., West Allis
Number of employees: 18
Family: Wife, Rebecca; sons, Johnny, 5, Joey, 3 and Josh, 7 months.
What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?
“We remained committed to staying independent because we want to lead the return of the small- and mid-size accounting firm and make sure small business doesn’t get left behind and underserved in this wave of consolidation. To do that, we turned down overtures from larger firms and added Marshall Watry, CPA, and Kara Tess as principals to continue to fuel our growth.”
What prompted your company’s recent move and need for additional space?
“We have doubled our space twice now because of our client growth and the continued need to bring in new talent and the opportunity to add different lines of business like wealth management.”
What has enabled your company to accelerate its growth since its launch in May 2012?
“We charge flat fees for our services, and we also do not charge businesses that are either buying or starting a business. This not only has led to very loyal clients who are advocates for us, but it has also raised our profile with other professionals, such as bankers and attorneys.”
Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
“We are hopeful that we’ll be able to continue to add high-level, experienced professionals who will allow us to continue to grow. Our goal is to become the largest health care accounting and consulting firm in the state within five years.”
What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?
“There’s been a tremendous amount of consolidation in the accounting industry. As such, our biggest challenge will be to convince other professionals in our industry that there’s a different way to do business and that our firm might be a great employment option for them. From the time an accounting student steps into college, they are told that they must work for a big firm or risk failure. Our overwhelming success in less than two years shows that that’s not true.”
Do you have a business mantra?
“Be responsive. If a client calls or emails, get back to them the same day.”
From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for all of our clients who have taken the risk to either start or buy a business. I am also grateful to Dwayne Johnson, who I worked for, because he showed me how, by focusing on a few niches, we could compete with larger firms. Additionally, I’m always striving to live up to the great and responsive customer service that Rick Shneyder of U.S. Bank provides.”
What was the best advice you ever received?
“My brother Tony Bark, who owns Four Lite Window and Door, once said the key to sales is to ‘talk to people like they’re people.’ It sounds simple, but the key thing in any interaction we have with a client is to simply be ourselves and sit back and listen to their needs. There’s no need for a fake sales pitch.”
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?
“As a young staff accountant, the first audit I took part in was for a printer whose primary business was adult magazines. Needless to say, there were a few interesting listings on the inventory work paper.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“With three boys under age 5, there’s not a ton of free time, but I love cycling and getting out to concerts.”