Affordability, opportunity, and local events drew one CPA to Bay City

Josh Rappuhn is a certified public accountant and manager at Weinlander Fitzhugh Certified Public Accounts & Consultants, 1600 Center Ave. Originally from Clarkston, Rappuhn moved to the area to attend college. After graduating from Saginaw Valley State University, Rappuhn chose to stay in the area and start his family here. Rappuhn and his wife, Taylor, welcomed their first child, Rhemi Jaymes, on July 5th. At 30 years old, Rappuhn is heavily involved in the community, serving as the Chairman of Bay Area Energize program. He enjoys traveling with his wife and trying different restaurants across the state.

Q. What brought you to this community?

A. My firm and my wife are two very large reasons why I have stayed in this area. Growing up, my family had a cabin on Sanford Lake, so we would drive through the Tri-Cities – but I wasn't aware of what this area really was. I moved here for school and started interviewing here, as well. I think Bay City has an immense amount to offer young professionals. There's a ton to do in this town, with a lot of local establishments and events. It's very affordable and you can easily raise a family here.

Q. Tell me about your business. What do you do?

A. I'm a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) with Weinlander Fitzhugh. I handle various projects, mostly in the auditing and tax realms. I oversee our 401K audit practice in the wintertime during the heat of tax season and I do a number of corporate audits and tax assignments.

Q. What does your average workday look like?

A. As a manager, it's a little different than coming in and digging into your work. It's overseeing projects and making sure your things are getting done, keeping stuff moving. I spend a lot of my day responding to emails, taking client calls, and helping with staff questions. My favorite part of the job is getting to see what clients do, what they have going on, and understanding their projects and how I can help. The days when clients reach out to me for information on something new that they're doing and seeing how I can help are the most exciting part of my job.

Q. Tell me about Bay Area Energize.

A. Through the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, we have a program called, Bay Area Energize. Our mission is to help attract and retain young professionals in the Bay Area. We're making massive strides to achieve this by setting up new committees, employee engagement, and college engagement, as well. We give young professionals a staff and network that they can come to and find work. And if they’re new to the area, we help them to get out, meet friends, and find stuff to do. Another factor is the college engagement sector, which is working with local universities toward the same goal. We help host events to keep students from SVSU, Delta, and Northwood in the area.

Q. When COVID-19 first hit, how did it impact your business?

A. Obviously, we had to make sure that all of our staff was working remotely. Fortunately, we were set up to be able to do that and transition easily to home, but that was a huge thing for us. Of course, a lot of our clients were really impacted, so we had to figure out what programs were coming out and how we could help them. There are various government grants and different funding platforms that clients really needed, especially some of our clients in the restaurant and retail industries that were trying to adjust.

Q. How did your business adapt to continue during the pandemic?

A. From senior managers all the way down to our interns, we were exclusively working from home for many months. Once COVID numbers started getting better, we transitioned to a blend where we would rotate days and reduce the amount of people at the office. Working from home presents unique challenges, too. We had to really reiterate to our staff that it's important to make sure you're still stopping and starting at your normal times and not over doing it for yourself. We wanted to make sure everyone was still employed and we made sure to communicate that.

Q. Were you able to keep everyone on throughout the pandemic?

A. Yes. Our partner group here made a commitment that they would do whatever it took to make sure we didn't have to make any staffing changes. We had natural turnover for a couple of people, but none of it was due to anything we put in place. In our industry, it's hard enough to get good staff and keep them – so as a firm, we looked at it as an investment to show our staff what we went through and what we were able to do for them. We wanted them to know that we are here for them and make sure that they still have a good job. I think our staff really recognized that, too.

Q. Where do you hope to see yourself and your business in the coming years?

A. I see myself making a permanent investment in this area and staying involved in the community by continuing to attract young professionals here. I also see our firm continuing to grow and invest in this area to help fund numerous projects and opportunities. We’re very community related and we do everything we can to be involved in the area.