When Alan Witt left his first accounting job at Eggleston Smith to help found the firm that would become PBMares, he was young and enthusiastic. Over the past 37 years, youth has become experience, and enthusiasm has built a leading accounting and business consulting firm with 38 partners and nine offices across Virginia and Maryland.
“Very early on, I realized that success was dependent upon the team of people that could be put together,” Witt said. “And I’ve been really fortunate that a lot of really bright people have allowed me to associate with them.”
One of those people was Gayle Rach, who partnered with Witt years ago to form Rach Witt. At the time, Witt was only 24. Rach, 15 or so years his senior, had a wealth of experience that he passed on to his junior partner.
Witt learned by observing Rach and other business leaders, including Robert Freeman, who was managing partner of the Coopers & Lybrand office at the time.
“These individuals distinguished themselves over the years in the way they practiced and the way they grew and led their firms, and I spent a lot of time watching, observing and listening to what they did and how they did it,” Witt said. “I think that served as an initial foundation for what I thought the right thing to do was as I was trying to grow a CPA firm.”
Witt learned that he needed to provide services of depth and breadth with enthusiasm and passion. At PBMares he focused on the structure of his team, to ensure that it was made up of people who not only met but exceeded client expectations.
He is fond of paraphrasing a quote from Collis Potter Huntington, the builder of the Newport News shipyard. Witt’s father worked at the shipyard for almost 15 years, and Witt took to heart the quote he saw on a plaque there: “We shall build good ships here; at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always good ships.”
Witt often reminds his team that, though they don’t build ships, the principle is the same: Always do good work.
“It’s all about collaborative efforts. It’s all about getting everyone on the same page,” Witt said. “When that’s done, great things can be accomplished.”