Case Studies

Here are just a few examples of how our Big Thinking and Personal Focus have helped our clients. Contact us to start the conversation about your business.

big problem:
Incorrect accounting methods
big thinking:
Seven figure tax savings.

Shareholder Gennaro DiBello has widespread experience in all areas of tax and business planning associated with closely held companies, and he's been with Schneider Downs since 1987.

During a routine review of one of our client's operations, Gennaro's team identified something that wasn't very routine at all. They discovered that the client was using multiple incorrect methods and calculations for computing tax depreciation for their fixed assets. Gennaro met the client to discuss the issue, presented a solution to correct the problem, quantified the results, and implemented the changes resulting in a favorable adjustment of nearly $4.5 million. Gennaro's expertise and eye for detail was critical in helping this client fix a problem they didn't even realize that they had.

"We're good at identifying opportunities or exposures that aren't on our clients' radars," Gennaro said. "It's not necessarily what we were originally retained to do, but while we're executing our engagements, we're always looking for new ways to help our clients and minimize their tax burden."

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.

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big problem:
Cybersecurity defenses compromised by employees' passwords
big thinking:
Significant updates to the cybersecurity environment.

Shareholder Eric Wright has been involved with Information Technology with Schneider Downs since 1983 and oversees the firm’s thriving Technology Consulting and IT Audit & Compliance practices. Through this role, Eric brings extensive experience in assessing IT infrastructure and identifying cybersecurity risk and exposure.

One of our clients felt fairly good about their existing cybersecurity defenses. But they were still afraid of the unknown and newer cyber attack techniques. Through our regular audit procedures, we inquired about their current cyber controls and their confidence in withstanding an attack. We then performed a network penetration test which simulates an external adversary hacking their network. This procedure identified the client's unknown weaknesses in their defenses through a live test.

“Within 48 hours, we were able to guess the passwords of close to 10% of their employees, effectively giving us VPN access to their corporate network and certain employee utilities, like email.” Eric said. "We also found that their corporate intranet site was visible over the internet and susceptible to login via the bad passwords. After identifying these issues, we worked with the client to make significant changes to their environment to make it harder for an attacker to break in."

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.

learn more about eric

big problem:
A complex business evaluation case.
big thinking:
Dispute settlement and control of the business.

With Schneider Downs since 2014, shareholder Tom Pratt has more than 30 years of experience in public accounting, forensic accounting, litigation support, business valuation and financial reorganization.

Tom’s team was involved in a complex and contentious business evaluation dispute between our client, who was the controlling shareholder, and a non-controlling shareholder. The dispute included allegations of fraud, self-dealing and mismanagement of entities against our client. We worked with our client’s outside legal counsel to help them respond to both the valuation issues and, importantly, refute the allegations being made against him. Our diligent and objective work assisted in the settlement of the dispute, and our client purchased the interests of the non-controlling shareholder prior to going to trial.

“We’ve seen just about everything you can see when it comes to disputes between business partners,” Pratt said. “So we know what to look for and what analysis and evidence will help our clients.”

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.

learn more about tom

big problem:
A not-for-profit client out of 401(k) compliance.
big thinking:
Allowing more contributions by highly paid employees.

Shareholder Jason Lumpkin serves as a Practice Unit Leader for SDAdvantage Retirement Solutions. He has more than 17 years of qualified retirement plan experience, primarily serving middle market, closely held businesses. His background includes plan design, documentation reporting, participant education, and ongoing administration for defined contribution plans, including employee stock ownership plans.

While working with one of our non profit clients, Jason’s team discovered that the organization was failing non-discrimination testing due to poor 401(k) participation among its employees. To address the issue, we recommended the implementation of a second retirement plan, a 403(b) plan, that would cover only the highly paid employees, allowing them to contribute the maximum amounts without concern for the limits imposed by the 401(k) plan’s non-discrimination testing.

“These top employees were no longer constrained by the limits of the 401(k) plan testing results,” Jason said. “Plus, the organization no longer had to be concerned about the non-discrimination test. We also avoided implementing a “safe harbor” design in the 401(k) plan, which can result in costly employer contributions and vesting provisions that favor short-term employees.”

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.  

learn more about jason

big problem:
Liquidity issues for a local company.
big thinking:
New ways to predict and control cash flows.

Shareholder Staci Brogan has more than 20 years of public accounting experience. Her areas of expertise include helping not-for-profit clients, publicly traded registrants, and clients with complex governance structures.

One of Staci’s clients was struggling with cash flow issues and wasn’t sure how to better manage their liquidity. But Staci’s team had an in-depth knowledge of the company and a clear understanding of their operations. Through detailed benchmarking of the company’s financial results as compared to their peers, a template was created to better project cash flows and positively impact key ratios.

“In addition to benchmarking performance, we were able to provide the client with an analysis to evaluate a key contract,” Brogan said. “This allowed them to negotiate better terms for the organization which also helped with their liquidity.”

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service. 

learn more about staci

big problem:
Ransomware attack halted a global manufacturer's operations.
big thinking:
Recover and secure the system – fast – save $1 million in ransom.

Shareholder Dan Desko is responsible for managing and leading a team of IT security professionals with diverse experiences, from former NSA cyber-operators, to data forensic pros and network hacking gurus.

Dan's cyber team went to the aid of global manufacturer in crises within 24 hours of receiving their initial call. Its systems were encrypted and inoperable as the result of a coordinated, strategic and targeted ransomware attack. The company's CFO reached out to Schneider Downs' Financial Audit engagement partner when a $1 million ransom was demanded by the cyber attacker.

"Despite all of their systems being completely down, with backups also encrypted, our team was able to help them recover and rebuild their network within weeks as opposed to what would have likely taken months without targeted expertise," Desko said. "We were able to help them move forward in a much more secure state to avoid future attacks, while mitigating many costs associated with an attack of this magnitude. We also saved them $1 million in ransom."

In addition to assisting with the recovery, Schneider Downs also played a key role in performing the digital forensics investigation, which included coordinating with the FBI and legal counsel.

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.
 

big problem:
The tax implications of overseas valuations.
big thinking:
$1 million in tax savings.

Shareholder Mary Richter has more than 20 years of public accounting experience since joining Schneider Downs in 2002. She has expertise with domestic and international tax planning, state tax nexus, tax credits, accounting for income taxes, and specific transaction planning and implementation.

One of Mary’s clients was reorganizing their overseas operating structure and wanted to move certain assets to different jurisdictions. The client had been purchased by a Private Equity group and called us about updating a valuation we had previously done for the business. In addition to working through the valuation questions, we were able to identify an opportunity to revise their restructuring plan to avoid taxation of a significant portion of the transactions.

“By asking questions, having a strong understanding of their needs, and collaborating with the client, we were able to save them roughly $1 million in taxes,” Mary said. “Plus, our plan enabled them to generate future tax deductions overseas to offset the current cost of restructuring. We also saved them substantially on fees.”

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.

learn more about mary

big problem:
Redundant back office functions.
big thinking:
Back office consolidation project saves $600,000 annually.

Shareholder Don Applegarth has more than 26 years of public accounting experience and is the practice leader of the Schneider Downs Accounting, Assurance and Advisory Services department. He has experience serving companies in a variety of industries, including but not limited to manufacturing, retail, construction, real estate, transportation and logistics, and natural resources.

Don’s team had an ongoing audit engagement with a large manufacturing company that ran two subsidiaries as if they were separate companies. This resulted in disparate accounting, human resources and IT functions. In addition to providing traditional audit and tax services, Don tapped the expertise of Schneider Downs’ Technology Services, Risk Advisory Services, and Human Resource experts to present a comprehensive back office consolidation plan.

“We conducted a comprehensive back office assessment of technology, processes, and a skills assessment of existing client personnel,” Applegarth said. “Leveraging strong relationships with the owner and key decision makers, the client trusted our multi-disciplinary team to come up with an effective back office implementation that ended up saving the company more than $600,000 annually. The client knew there would be savings, but they were extremely pleased with the amount of savings, new synergies, and tangible benefits to the Company’s operations going forward.”

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service. 

learn more about don

big problem:
Missing opportunities in tax reporting for retainages.
big thinking:
New accounting methods for significant refunds.

A part of Schneider Downs since 1988, Jay Meglich provides auditing and consulting services to a variety of businesses and tax-exempt organizations.

While speaking with a client, the conversation turned to tax reporting for retainages held under contract. Jay suggested the client have a follow up meeting with the tax team to look into this issue in more detail and review the overall method of reporting that was being used for income tax reporting purposes. After changing their accounting methods, we filed amended returns for open tax years and were able to get the client a significant refund on prior year’s returns. Plus, this new favorable reporting method was implemented going forward.

“It’s always satisfying to help clients find new and unexpected savings,” Meglich said. “This client was then able to leverage the cash flow into financing that assisted them in expanding their operations and eventually to the purchase of a larger facility to continue their growth.”

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.

learn more about jay

big problem:
Inefficiency in data extraction and file conversion.
big thinking:
Use proprietary software to do what once took days in just hours.

Shareholder Ted Pettko has extensive experience with public and privately owned companies from a diverse group of industries, and he’s been with Schneider Downs since 1997.

Ted's team implemented a solution for a client who had an ongoing need to extract data from one platform and enter it into another. The manual process they had in place was not only cumbersome and time consuming, but it also resulted in an unclean format. Using proprietary data analysis software, IDEA, the team helped the client extract an entire year of information into a clean format in a matter of hours. Previously, it had taken the client several days to perform the extraction.

"Our efforts on behalf of our client enhanced their timeliness and efficiency," Pettko said. "Using data analysis software in the audit profession gives us the ability to extract information in a fraction of the time, summarize the data and produce high-level analytics to support our audit opinion. Ultimately it's a win-win."

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.

 

big problem:
A family-owned business needing tax advice.
big thinking:
$1.4 million in eligible deductions.

Shareholder Mark DiPietrantonio has been with the firm since 1995 and brings extensive experience in all areas of tax planning, research and compliance.

When Mark was introduced to a new client, he learned through the course of the conversations about the nature of the business, their clients, and most interestingly, that they were not utilizing all of the tax deductions available in this specific industry. After some research, we determined that they were eligible for large deductions in excess of $1.4 million dollars, which had a huge impact on this family-owned business.

“It felt great to be able to deliver such positive and unexpected news to this small business owner,” DiPietrantonio said. “By immediately amending the tax returns for the prior years in which the statue of limitations had not closed, we were able to secure a significant refund for them.”

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.

learn more about mark

big problem:
A limited employee benefit plan.
big thinking:
Increased contributions and employee retention.

Shareholder Joe Bruce has more than 21 years of public accounting experience since joining Schneider Downs in 1996. He has expertise with a variety of clients including construction, manufacturing, retail, oil and gas industries, and employee benefit plans.

One of Joe’s clients had a successful business and was interested in contributing more to their retirement accounts. However, the client was limited by the existing employee benefit plan structure and IRS contribution limitations on their existing structure. Joe’s team was familiar with the structure of their existing plan and offered to do an analysis of their options.

“The Schneider Downs Retirement Plan Solutions Group suggested a cash balance plan and provided an analysis to the business owners which quantified the impact and provided options to allow the client to evaluate the direction they were most comfortable moving forward with.” Bruce said. “The client elected to adopt the cash balance plan and was able to significantly increase contributions into the owners’ retirement accounts. This also enhanced the quality of the retirement benefits for their employees, which in turn helped improve employee retention.”

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.

learn more about joe

big problem:
Incorrect calculations of toll charges.
big thinking:
$1 million in tax savings.

Shareholder Michael Renzelman has a vast amount of professional experience in a multitude of accounting, auditing, tax and business-related issues. He is also responsible for the firm’s adherence to professional standards and maintenance of the firm's assurance services policies and procedures.

One of Mike’s audit clients with international operations was having their tax work performed by another firm. While auditing the client’s implementation of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Mike’s team challenged how the company was calculating the toll charge in connection with unremitted and untaxed accumulated earnings associated with their foreign subsidiaries. Rather than just recalculate the tax liability as presented, the team engaged Schneider Downs’ international tax professionals to challenge the approach. As a result, we were able to make recommendations that ended up saving the company in excess of $1 million in tax costs.

“In addition to providing our clients with quality audits, we are always focused on how we can provide added value,” Mike said. “We will engage our experts across all of our other lines of business to provide this value through big thinking and looking at the big picture.”

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.

learn more about mike

big problem:
New rules for business deductions.
big thinking:
New tax planning strategies to save $300,000.

Shareholder Evan Ogrodnik has been with Schneider Downs since 2005 and is one of our experts in tax compliance and planning, accounting, and financial reporting matters.

Evan’s team always worked closely with our clients’ accounting group and Schneider Downs‘ audit team. When the IRS changed the rules on the deductibility of repairs and maintenance versus capitalization of assets, a group of Schneider Downs’ tax specialists performed a deep-dive on the technical rules of this change to develop tax planning strategies for their clients.  In one particular instance, through extensive analysis of the client’s fixed asset ledgers as well as those of related-party commercial rental properties, we were able to find tax savings of approximately $300,000.

“Communication with our clients is always critical,” Ogrodnik said. “Our understanding of new, complex regulations, knowledge of our client’s business and internal workings, and the trust the client had in our experts, allowed us to take advantage of tax rules and garner significant deductions.”

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.

learn more about evan

big problem:
A global company needing better internal controls.
big thinking:
A network of professionals to implement best practices.

Shareholder Jim Yard is Schneider Downs’ practice leader for our Risk Advisory Services Department. Jim specializes in providing risk management, internal audit, and internal control consulting services.

 One of our clients was a large consumer markets company with a global footprint. We learned that the company wanted to improve overall corporate governance and internal controls. Jim’s team was called upon to help with an evaluation since leadership at the company realized the need for a firm with international experience in multiple countries and languages. With the assistance of country-specific resources through Prime Global - one of the largest associations of independent public accounting firms in the world - and a consistent core team based in Pittsburgh, we have been able to provide the expertise necessary to develop and assist the company in building and establishing a global internal audit function, and bringing best practices across their global operations and core processes.

“By accessing industry expertise, assessing risk and pulling in subject matter and international specialists, we were able to direct the company’s plans to implement best practices, mitigate risks, standardize their processes and create efficiencies throughout its operations and business units,” Jim said. “The client has recognized the success of this partnership and has gone on to award us other projects including on-going international location reviews, various operational and process reviews, systems implementation/migration, and fraud investigations.”

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service. 

learn more about jim

big problem:
High tax burden for family-owned franchisor.
big thinking:
Comprehensive planning for a 15% tax reduction.

A tax shareholder with more than 25 years of private and public accounting experience, Chris joined Schneider Downs in 2017 and advises clients in diverse sectors, including consumer products and retail, healthcare, and manufacturing and distribution.

Chris' team went to the aid of a family-owned retailer/franchisor that needed to reduce its tax burden to better align with the long-term vision for the business. Schneider Downs' shareholder-led service model positioned the team to have a sophisticated understanding of the client's objectives and leverage opportunities afforded by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

"We helped the client implement a structure to get requisite cash flows to the owners while taking advantage of favorable corporate tax rates, non-U.S. tax planning, and other tax provisions such as QBI and FDII,” said McElroy. “We were able to reduce their overall annual global tax burden by nearly 15% as a result."

Schneider Downs provides Big Thinking and Personal Focus in delivering a variety of services for large and small businesses, both publicly and privately held, as well as nonprofit organizations, government entities and more. Through our commitment to thought leadership and knowledge management, we deliver the solutions our clients need with a personal commitment to service.

 

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Map of Pittsburgh Office
Pittsburgh

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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

contactsd@schneiderdowns.com
p:412.261.3644     f:412.261.4876

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Columbus, OH 43215

contactsd@schneiderdowns.com
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