I started my accounting career on September 4, 1978 as a staff accountant for the DH+S Denver office. At the time, DH+S was one of the eight largest CPA firms in the world.
On my first try I passed all 4 parts of the CPA exam in the fall of 1979 (at the time only 15% who took the exam passed all parts on their first try). After getting the requisite work experience, I received my CPA certificate in January of 1981. I should note that I am no longer a practicing CPA; after having been in industry for many years, I changed my status to ‘Inactive’ CPA in the 1990’s.
I worked as a staff auditor for DH+S for two years. During that time, I audited over 40 different businesses/entities. Among the highlights:
- Worst company – this was a manufacturing firm that was making one of the first electronic medical thermometers. Its accounting people had completely lost control of the books. When we got there we found literally piles of inventory strewn throughout the company’s plant. We eventually determined that there was approximately a half million dollars of inventory ‘missing.’ The company received a ‘Going Concern’ opinion. The only one I was ever associated with.
- Best company – this was a downtown Denver real estate mortgage company that was affiliated with one of the big Denver banks. Its books were an absolute dream. Everything totally tied out, and it was a breeze to audit. No other company I audited came close to how well this business’ books were organized.
- Wine Distributor subsidiary.
- Commercial Building Sub-Contractor.
- Concrete, Sand & Gravel Company – Part of this job was to measure the ‘inventory,’ which was a whole lot of huge piles of sand near Golden.
- Colorado State Nursing Homes – DH+S had the contract to audit all state nursing homes. For about a year it was my responsibility to go to these homes throughout the state and conduct these one and two-day audits on my own (which was unusual for such an inexperienced person).
- Machine Parts Foundry – This was my first job where I did my first inventory test counts.
- Small bank in Parker.
- Railroad Car Repair business located on an abandoned military base in Edgemont, South Dakota.
- Small oil and gas company in downtown Denver.
My 2-year experience as an auditor was invaluable in my career. Unlike my college education, it taught me how accounting was actually practiced in the real world. College had given me the overall concepts, but was completely useless in terms of understanding how accounting was actually done. My DH+S experience also taught me just how poorly run most businesses were, and that one of the main reasons was because they did not consider accounting worth the effort to be done right. Before entering the work world, I had always thought any business making money had to be efficiently run with competent accounting records. This turned out to be a complete fantasy.