Jan. 3rd, 2018

Spotlight: Mitch Burgers Retires after 40 Years in the Profession

Mitch’s Career

Mitch did not initially intend to be an accountant when he began college at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa after leaving his home town of Colton, South Dakota. He transferred to Calvin College in Grand Rapids as a sophomore. His college career started in the sciences: chemistry and physics.  However, they were not fulfilling, so he switched to mathematics.  When he was one class short of his degree (Abstract Algebra stopped that venture), he realized he needed to make another change.  He knew teaching wasn’t in his future, but he wasn’t sure what he wanted to pursue. He decided it was time to take a break from college.  Then in 1972, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and was stationed at Ft. Gordon, GA in the personnel department. While there, he took correspondence classes in accounting.  In 1974, he left the Army and resumed his studies at Calvin College.  Mitch earned a Bachelor degree in Economics from Calvin College and a Master of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Michigan.

After Mitch graduated, he joined Robert J. McBain & Company as a Staff Accountant, where he stayed for 17 years.  In 1994, Mitch joined the firm, which was called Hungerford, Aldrin, Nichols & Carter, P.C. at the time, as a Manager.  Mitch recalls his first interview with the firm fondly.  He was invited in a small conference room to discuss the position and awaiting him were some ice cold beers!  He came to the firm with Pete Weldon, who was also at Robert J. McBain & Company at the time. His main responsibility was to conduct tech reviews, which were previously done by Rick Chrisman (who is now the Managing Shareholder of the firm).  In 2001, Mitch, Tom Prince and Carla Grant became Shareholders of the firm.

Mitch’s client services include performing audits, reviews and compilations of financial statements, providing technical accounting resources and advice, and providing tax services primarily to his business clients. He is the firm’s director of accounting and auditing quality control. His internal firm responsibilities include ensuring the firm’s compliance with professional standards and performing quality reviews of financial statements prepared by the firm.

Mitch also performs peer reviews on other CPA firms, which are required every three years. A peer review involves issuing a report on the quality of a CPA firm’s accounting and auditing practice. He has been a volunteer member of the Michigan peer review task force, which approves such peer reviews performed on Michigan firms, for over 20 years. He has given numerous presentations on peer reviews and on accounting issues.

Mitch’s Family Life

Before Mitch went off to the Army, he went on a blind date with the woman who would become his wife, Jan. They met in the fall of 1971 and were set up by Mitch’s cousin (who was Jan’s co-worker at Blodgett Hospital, both nurses).  He took Jan to see the movie Billie Jack at Studio 28 Theatre. Looking back, although he enjoyed their date, Mitch may have picked a different movie if he could do it again. On their second date, he took Jan to see a production of Messiah, composed by Handel at the Civic Center. Mitch and Jan continued their friendship while he was in the Army and became husband and wife in June of 1975.  They have four children, Mark, Christie, Kyle and Todd and two grandchildren.

Mitch and Jan enjoy activities with their three sons and daughter and their families, especially their annual vacation at a beach at Lake Michigan. He also enjoys vintage automobiles and listening to his vast collection of 1960s-1980s classic rock.  Additionally, he is working on completing his boyhood baseball card sets.

Advice to the next generation of CPAs?

Mitch feels that the next generation can teach him more than he can teach them. He feels it’s important for people to find their own way and what works for them.  While he learned a lot from people he worked for and with throughout his career, “mentorship” is more of a newer concept. He at times experienced gruff and moody managers and learned not to cross them.  He’s glad to see leadership styles have changed.  That was a draw for him to join Hungerford Nichols 23 years ago. He likes the unwritten policy of not hiring “jerks”.  People here get along with one another and treat people with respect.

Advice to his younger self?

If he had it to do over, he would change very little.  He married the right woman, had a satisfying job and with the right company for the second part of his career.

What will retirement look like?

Mitch and Jan enjoy exploring breweries and experiencing craft beers.  He expects there will be many tastings during retirement!  They also enjoy traveling.  They will explore a nautical theme locally and plan to visit the lighthouses of Michigan.  Additionally, there will be visits to the Gilmore car museum and many Whitecaps baseball games and plenty of adventures with the kids and grandkids. When they expand out of the state, they are looking forward to traveling to the National Parks of the United States.  Much thanks to Mitch for his dedication to the profession and to the firm.  He will be greatly missed!