Cain Ellsworth marks 50 years with original clients still on board and an eye toward the future

June 27, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by Cain Ellsworth & Company LLP.

 It says a lot about a firm that on its 50th anniversary, clients from the original day in business will be at the celebration.

“To me, it means we’ve done a good job for a lot of people over a long period of time,” said Kevin Cain, managing partner of Cain Ellsworth & Company LLP.

Cain’s father, John, founded the firm July 1, 1968, in Sheldon Iowa. He’d worked as an accountant in Des Moines and wanted to raise his family of six in a small town.

John Cain

The first client was an insurance company, now Boone Farmers Mutual Insurance.

Richard Larson and John Cain had been neighbors, and Richard needed a CPA.

“John would show up at our house on a Sunday night and either have dinner with us or sit with Dad,” said Brad Larson, Richard’s son, who is secretary/mutual manager today.

“Initially, it was a CPA company for us, but it’s become so much more,” Larson said.

That’s the case with many Cain Ellsworth clients. As the firm has become more sophisticated and added services, clients now draw on expertise in change management, human resources and marketing. It’s about going “beyond the numbers” to lend broader perspective that often improves the bottom line.

In the case of Boone Farmers Mutual, Cain Ellsworth’s experience working with other mutual insurance companies is invaluable.

“It’s very good for us because now we have more statistics, so we can see how we compare,” Larson said. “They’re extremely involved in the insurance industry, and the customer service is great. We’ve had a wonderful rapport for years. We get so much help on so many levels it’s unbelievable.”

Citizens State Bank also has a 50-year relationship with Cain Ellsworth. The Iowa bank shares the firm’s hometown of Sheldon, and Cain Ellsworth assists with its tax work and independent exams.

“They’re a professional, well-respected firm that gives great quality service and advice for us,” president Rob Dixon said. “They’ve evolved well over the years. They’re well-respected, and their customer base has grown nicely, which speaks to that.”

For Cain, who began his own career at the firm cleaning the office at age 8, growth has been rewarding to experience but never taken for granted.

“One of the things that I think has really set us up to be successful is that we’ve always had a philosophy that clients are the firm’s clients and not an individual’s clients. We’ve never kept track of who’s managing what. Instead, we treat them as the firm’s clients, and whatever they need is what they get from anyone on our team.”

It’s a team of “honest, hard-working people,” he added. “That’s why we are where we are. It’s a culture of treating people right and doing the right thing.”

The Cain Ellsworth team in 1992.

Longtime client Greg Weppler agrees. The president of Neal Chase Lumber Co. has worked with Cain Ellsworth for 30 years as the firm has helped his business with tax work and consulting on acquisitions.

“I’ve always felt comfortable that they do an accurate job and take away any concerns we would have as far as tax issues,” he said. “They research, make sure they’re following the letter of the law, and they’re straight shooters, plus they stay up on all the changes in the law.”

The Sioux Falls office, at 1300 W. 57th St., was added in 2014.

Evolving the firm for another 50 years is a continual effort, Cain said. He jokes that at 57 he’s “the old guy” in the office.

“My three partners are all in their 40s, and that’s extremely unusual in our profession, but we have a little different philosophy,” he said.

“We bring our younger CPAs in early in the process, attending meetings and talking about firm issues and how to run a firm and transmit knowledge. We expose people to marketing and HR. All that is important because it is a business, and running it takes a lot of skill sets.”

Adaptability is a critical skill, he added.

“The future belongs to adaptable organizations. Technology is going to change quickly and there are a lot of challenges, which also means there are a lot of opportunities. I think we’re well-positioned because we’re willing to change, to try new things and because we have a great client base. We just want to say thanks to everyone who played a part in getting us to where we are.”

The firm will celebrate with an open house from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Friday at 1008 Third Ave. in Sheldon. An  invitation-only event will be held in the afternoon for the firm’s clients.

Cain Ellsworth marks 50 years with original clients still on board and an eye toward the future

 It says a lot about a firm that on its 50th anniversary, clients from the original day in business will be at the celebration.

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