Partner Summits 2017

Building a More Progressive Firm


Paul Miller

Paul Miller
Business By Design

For almost 20 years, Paul Miller has been building his firm with a focus on meeting client needs beyond compliance work, and with a business consultancy mindset.

When he became self-employed in 1993, Paul found resources for tax planning, business structure/entity optimization and overall business coaching difficult to find. After founding Business By Design in Edina, MN, his goal was to help other entrepreneurs and small businesses be more tax-efficient and make smarter business decisions, in addition to providing traditional accounting firm services.

Today, Paul has developed a firm that provides high-margin business coaching, tax planning and asset protection services for small businesses, employing many of the same tax planning strategies that larger firms offer. This creates a trusted advisor relationship with his clients, builds multiple income streams for his firm and establishes the firm’s unique value proposition. Whether it’s tax savings, business transition guidance or equity building strategies, clients see the value Business by Design delivers—thereby virtually eliminating the client fee pressure situations many accounting firm find themselves in today.

The firm employs a unique “team” approach with a highly trained, diverse staff, including accountants, CPAs, enrolled agents, para-legal and administrative staff, paired with Paul’s own entrepreneurial expertise to provide high-level, results-oriented services to clients. Paul’s focus on progressive use of technology to drive firm efficiency and better serve clients, coupled with his consultative approach to helping business clients, has positioned Business by Design as a firm of the future.

Mark Martukovich, CPA

Mark Martukovich, CPA
Fox, Martukovich & Associates, C.P.A.

As the managing partner of Fox, Martukovich & Associates, CPA, a tax and advisory firm based in Clearwater, FL, Mark Martukovich is building a firm that focuses on matching clients’ tax plans with their short- and long-term goals.

Since joining the firm in 2010, Mark had been trying to build a business model that promoted the practice as an advisory firm. However, he struggled with a clear message and delivery method. In 2014 he attended his first Partner Summit, where he was introduced to the Breakthrough Firm concept — and he knew he’d found the model he needed to transform the firm.

He took the next step with the Thomson Reuters Practice Forward offering, becoming one of the first Practice Forward “graduates.” Since then, Mark has been successfully transitioning his firm from a traditional tax practice to a business advisory and accounting firm.

Mark graduated from The University of Akron with a degree in accounting, and is a licensed CPA in Florida and Ohio. He began his career as a staff accountant in Cleveland, OH, and transitioned into a business development role when he became the director of business development for the College Store Trade Association. He spent 10 years as a commercial banker in the Tampa Bay area, working with small businesses to help them finance their capital needs, streamline their businesses and plan for their eventual succession. Mark has more than 17 years of business development and consulting experience with small and medium-sized businesses, and has served on the Board of Directors of the SPCA Tampa Bay. He’s a recipient of the Friend of Literacy Award from Project:LEARN, an adult literacy organization that honored his work as treasurer and as a member of the group’s board of directors.

Today, Fox, Martukovich & Associates, CPA, is in its 27th year of providing tax and accounting services, and in its second full year of business advisory services. The compliance practice has grown on average 8-12% per year, and the advisory firm is on pace to more than double its first full year of revenue. The two divisions of the firm operate as separate entities, but continue to work together to serve its clients on a forward-thinking level, rather than one that’s focused on client historical results.

As the firm’s divisions grow, Mark continues to work toward moving out of the practice’s day-to-day operations and expanding his role as a business development office. A direct benefit of this transition is that he’s found more time to devote to the things he’s passionate about.

Therese Witherow

Therese M. Witherow
Thomson Reuters

As a senior technical trainer with Thomson Reuters, Therese uses her 17 years of experience to provide onsite and web-based training across the country and overseas for UltraTax CS, Fixed Assets CS, FileCabinet CS, Planner CS and ToolBox CS.

She joined Thomson Reuters in 1999 as a product support representative for UltraTax CS, Fixed Assets CS and FileCabinet CS, and was also the product lead for Ultra Tax CS/1040 and e-filing. In 2005, Therese joined the Training, Consulting & Implementation Services team.

This is Therese’s seventh year as a lead presenter at Partner Summits, our most exclusive thought leadership event. She has also presented at many Thomson Reuters SYNERGY users’ conferences, at various profession events and at firm-sponsored events. Over the years she has helped thousands of practitioners, in hundreds of firms across the country, better use technology and take advantage of integrated solutions. She has also been involved in product validation testing, On-Demand training development and sales seminar content creation.

Therese holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting with a minor in management from Western Michigan University, and is a CompTIA CTT+ Certified Professional Trainer.

Brent C. Cyr, MSA

Brent C. Cyr, MSA
Thomson Reuters

As a technical trainer with Thomson Reuters, Brent has provided hundreds of firms with onsite and web-based training for Practice CS and Accounting CS. Over the last several years, he also delivered implementation consulting for firms transitioning to the Accounting CS platform, helping them pave the way for a successful transition.

Brent joined Thomson Reuters in 2010 as a support representative. He worked on product testing, became a subject matter expert for Practice CS and a valuable resource for Accounting CS. His desire to help firms in as many ways as possible is what brought Brent to the Training, Consulting & Implementation Services team.

He has served as an instructor at the Thomson Reuters SYNERGY users’ conference for the last five years, teaching a variety of practice management- and accounting-related courses. This is his second year as a contributing presenter at Partner Summits.

Brent holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting and Master of Science degree in accountancy from Western Michigan University.

Emily Postinger

Emily A. Postinger
Thomson Reuters

Emily is a project manager with the Training, Consulting & Implementation Services team. Passionate about bringing positive change to firms, she strives to deliver a seamless and positive client experience that contributes to a firm’s success.

She joined Thomson Reuters in 2010 as a product support representative for UltraTax CS and Planner CS. In 2013, Emily joined the Training, Consulting & Implementation Services team as a sales and training consultant. In that role, she presented onsite and web-based technical demonstrations of the Thomson Reuters CS Professional Suite, and worked with firms to ensure the tools improved their workflow.

This is Emily’s second year contributing as a presenter at the Partner Summits, although she has presented at many SYNERGY users’ conferences and at various professional events, including trade shows and sales seminars. She’s also been involved in product validation testing, the development of On-Demand demonstrations and product training.

Emily holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from Eastern Michigan University.

Brienne Okkerse, MBA

Brienne Okkerse, MBA
Thomson Reuters

Brie is the manager of content with the User Services department at Thomson Reuters. In her role, she’s responsible for the strategy, creation and maintenance of content for internal and client-facing training, e-learning and the Help & How-To Center.

Brie joined Thomson Reuters in 2007 as a product support representative for UltraTax CS and GoSystem Tax RS. She has served as an instructor for web-based trainings and the annual SYNERGY users’ conference. In 2010, she transitioned into an operations position on the Training, Consulting & Implementation Services team. During her time in operations, her role was focused on improving the process for firms going through an implementation, and refining internal procedures for a traveling team of over 50 trainers and consultants. Brie has spent the last four years in a leadership role at Thomson Reuters. In her current role as manager of content, she oversees a team of 33 people entrusted to deliver content that Thomson Reuters clients can trust to help their business succeed.

This is Brie’s second year contributing as a presenter at the Partner Summits. Her experience in leadership, process improvement, working with small to large firms and change management gives her the vital big-picture perspective.

Brie holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA from Eastern Michigan University.