When I met Paul Panabaker in 1999, it was as the father of three young kids at the school where my daughter Emily had just started kindergarten. I had no idea that four years earlier he had merged his small accounting firm with a slightly less small accounting firm called Davis Martindale.
As our kids went from JK to grade six at Brick Street public school – RIP – we became friends. Our kids played together on the weekends. We all went to the family fun nights at the school. We golfed on occasion, and Davis Martindale became the sponsor of the kids’ soccer team.
Davis Martindale was growing and getting ready to move into its shiny new office on Commissioners, the site of a former Big V pharmacy. I wrote a story about the move for a local business rag, and learned a little more about what was going on at the firm.
But let’s be honest, the goings-on at an accounting firm are not usually the stuff of Christopher Nolan movies. Aaron Sorkin maybe, but he has yet to give it a go. The absence of any Aaron Sorkin moments is something I mention in my London Inc. cover story this month, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the firm.
Recognizing accounting is not seen as the most exciting of professional pursuits, Davis Martindale long ago branded itself the Accountants With Personality. And those personalities have relied on that slogan to define their corporate culture ever since. Yes, they have experts in every conceivable tax and business planning niche, and yes they’re members of an international association, giving them global reach. But it’s the personality and focus on being human that has helped the firm grow to be the largest independent firm, by a lot, in Southwestern Ontario.
When I met Paul, I had no idea the firm would reach its current heights. I’m not sure he did. But it’s an accomplishment worth noting and celebrating. Congratulations to the accountants with personality.