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DOWNEY – Paul J. Mathys, managing partner of the Downey accounting firm Muller, King, Mathys, Acker & Lopez, found his calling early.
Born and raised in Farmington, Mich., just outside Detroit, he learned his three R’s at the local parochial school run by nuns, the Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School (grades 1-8), and really got his physical, mental and moral faculties revved up at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School (1961-1965) before getting his BS in accounting degree in 1969 from Wayne State University.
Paul didn’t choose accounting for his life’s work: it chose him. He had started working as a stock boy for Fil-Mar Markets in Farmington at age 16, as he began his third year of high school. He worked there for five years, from 1963-1968, covering his first three years of college. In his senior year, he was already working for the Detroit accounting firm of Svagr, Kraus & Gorski, where he cut his teeth in bookkeeping and tax preparation work.
Paul’s interaction with the ownership of the accounting firm’s clientele fascinated him and pointed him towards an accounting career.
Paul says he found his college studies actually much easier than his high school courses: at his Jesuit high school, given course program alternatives, he chose to take the rigorous Latin-scientific curriculum (since terminated) which required the students to read Homer’s Iliad in Latin.
With his accounting degree, Paul accepted a position with Touche Ross & Co. in Los Angeles. He worked an entire year as an auditor at the prestigious firm before joining the accounting firm of Muller & King, then based in South Gate. Three years later, Paul became a partner.
Two more partners, Roy Acker and Arlene Lopez, later came aboard. The firm then became known as Muller, King, Mathys, Acker & Lopez. Jack Muller has since passed away.
Deciding to move to Downey, the firm bought the land near the corner of Florence and Western Avenues in 1977 and, the following year, constructed its current building. Paul says it’s one of the best investments the firm has ever made.
Paul says Muller, King, Mathys, Acker & Lopez is, first and foremost, a good place to work: “We have no turnover. Our newest staff member has been with us three years now, more than half of our 11-member staff have been here at least fifteen years, and some have been serving for twenty years. This is a good place to work.”
Paul goes on: “We believe we have a good working environment because we treat our employees with respect. Even with our mostly built-in checks and balances, an employee might commit a mistake. We don’t shout at them, we don’t reprimand them. Instead we discuss the matter over with them and seek ways to prevent mistakes from happening again.”
He says that at the peak of the tax preparation season, from February 1 to April 30, “We have lots of overtime, and we work 10 hours a day, seven days a week!”
The rest of the year is spent on bookkeeping chores, meeting with clients, reviewing accounts, etc.
Interaction with the owners of businesses is important, Paul says, “We are after all in the business of helping them run their businesses well.”
Paul adds that the firm’s work may be divided into three major areas: audits, reviews (of financial operations), and compilations (of financial statements), distinguished by the level of service each provides, with audits the “most time-consuming and most expensive service we provide.”
He agrees with the notion, when mentioned, that with a total of over 1,000 individual tax return accounts, 500 business tax returns, 108 compilations, six review and ten audit accounts a year, Muller, King, Mathys, Acker & Lopez may well be “the largest accounting firm in Downey.”
Business clients include: corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, trusts, exempt organizations, and estates.
Paul says Roy Acker, who belongs to the Optimist Club, handles Technical Review matters, Kiwanian and Senior Partner Charlie King handles business development, Soroptimist Arlene Lopez’ expertise is in tax returns and tax research, and he (Paul) is responsible for audits and reviews.
The division of duties and responsibilities is not hard and fast, he says, as much as it is a matter of convenience: “We’re a firm, and we all work together. If new business comes up, it goes to the partner who is not so busy at the moment.”
Paul also says he’s the business writer in residence and, given his Jesuit training, appreciates the value of good writing. He has two basic writing rules: order your thoughts/ideas logically; and be concise and to the point.
Married in 1974 (“I met my wife here in Downey”), Paul has two kids: son Ryan, a Downey High grad, is a courier for his dad’s firm, while married daughter Rachel, also a DHS grad, is a registered nurse and has three boys of her own.
The family had moved to their Downey house in 1988. Paul says he and his wife divorced after 17 years of marriage. He says he’s now “happily divorced.”
Past president of the Downey Rotary Club (1996-97), Paul says he has been a member of the club (“A fun association”) since 1988 and has held practically every position therein: treasurer, secretary, vice president, president-elect, president, director of community services, director of youth services, and director of international services.
A past board member of the Downey Family YMCA as well, Paul continues to serve on the board of the Rancho National Rehabilitation Center Foundation.
“It’s no secret that my number one relaxation is golf,” he says. For the umpteenth time, Paul was chair of the Arc/Rotary Golf Tournament held several weeks ago. Because of the unrelenting demand on his time this (and his duties as the club’s perennial treasurer), has entailed, he has forever been threatening to quit these assignments. His threats have, of course, fallen on deaf ears.
And just as expected, hailing from the Detroit area, he roots for the Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Lions, and the Detroit Red Wings. He also roots for UCLA.
As for his life and management philosophy, Paul says 1) Be honest with your clients and your employees; 2) Treat people with respect; 3) Do your job on time. “If you do all three things, you’ll be okay,” he says.
Published: November 22, 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 32