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Best of Swift Current

It takes a team to run a successful accounting business. It means having a solid group of individuals, with not just areas of special expertise, but all on their game to keep on top of any changes in taxation. Stark & Marsh Chartered Accountants LLP obviously has that as the 10 owners including Ben Wiebe, Bill Wiebe, Glen Budd, Greg Smith, Leslie Neufeld, Nadine Dyck, Shane Lacasse, Terri Olfert, Todd Loeppky, and Vern Peters lead a group of 70 employees for a total of 80 people working at the firm. For the second consecutive year, the Stark & Marsh team led the way and were named the Best Accounting Firm in Prairie Post’s Best of Swift Current survey. For Elden Moberg, chief executive officer of Stark & Marsh, he was pleased the business is so highly thought of by the voters.

“My initial reaction is to be grateful for those that took the time to vote for us. As a professional service provider, we know that the relationship that we develop with our clients is the key to success … for them and us,” explains Moberg. “We’ve been fortunate to develop long- term relationships with so many clients in the southwest over the past many years and have seen their operations grow and prosper. I’m proud of all of our people for the work they put into developing a rapport with their clients and ensuring that we never get too big to remember that it’s about the relationship first. “When you get acknowledged by your community, you

always are appreciative. It gives you a sense that you’re providing your clients with what they want and expect of you. At the same time, it also gives you the incentive to keep working to improve. You want to ensure that you’re raising the bar to continue to meet your clients’ needs for the long haul.”

In its present form, Stark & Marsh has been in existence since 1994, but the roots of the business trace back 90 years in the community. They are also a member of Swift Current’s Chamber of Commerce. Moberg says one of the reasons they are successful is the motivation they have to contribute to the community. For most of the people at the firm, they’ve chosen to live in southwest Saskatchewan. Moberg says southwest Saskatchewan is where they want to be and as

PRAIRIE POST - Friday, May 8, 2015 - 9 It all adds up for Stark & Marsh

Stark & Marsh Chartered Accountants, LLP is a catalyst in volunteering for helping to keep Swift Current environmentally sound. On April 14, it was awarded the Sask. Association of Watershed Stewardship Award for the work done with Swift Current’s Watershed Stewards. The award is typically given to an individual or a town; Stark & Marsh is the first business ever to receive this award.

a result, “It’s pretty easy going to work to service others who share the same thought process.” A large portion of Stark & Marsh’s business is related to agricultural and small- and medium-sized business. Southwest Saskatchewan has been a good place over the past number of years, and they look forward to that trend continuing. However, Moberg says the firm also must keep on top of trends in the industry or changes in the marketplace. So far, they have been doing that. “I believe every business has things to improve upon.

Keep adapting … or die,” explains Moberg. “For us, we continue to look for opportunities to be as efficient as we can in servicing our clients … how do we make their experience as easy as possible. We’ve added on-line bill payment recently and have a secure portal to assist in transferring data back and forth with our clients that we believe will assist in that regard. We also continue to focus on new consulting service lines that will be of benefit to our clientele.

“We are expanding our succession planning services for farms and businesses because of the need in the marketplace, and also are starting to work with small- and medium-sized businesses who are starting to think about transition down the road to ensure that they are prepared.” The current state of the economy is in a state of flux right now and also impacts the accounting industry. Moberg says with oil prices down, it impacts those

individuals and businesses in that sector which is unfortunate, but there are also other sectors which they deal with which are thriving. “You never want to see that given that we all know a significant number of people who work in that industry,” explains Moberg. “However, the agricultural sector is very strong right now.The ranching community, which has had to battle and claw for many years, is starting to bear some fruit for their patience, which is excellent so see. Our small- and medium-sized businesses have been successful and I believe will continue to be successful.”

Wizard of Paws delivers the goods to dog owners

According to voters of Prairie Post’s 2015 Best in Swift Current survey, Lee Sparks is the most popular Pet Groomer in the city. Wizard of Paws pet grooming service won for the second year in a row.

It is kind of ironic because she just got into the business a few years ago, almost by fluke. Not that long ago she worked for Canada Post. “Becoming a groomer was actually an impulse thing I did,” recalls Sparks. “In March of 2011, I was employed at Canada Post as a contract employee. One day, I was trying to get my own dog into the groomer and was told it would be a six-week wait. I said jokingly to my supervisor, ‘I should become a groomer.’ She said, ‘You really should.’ And then it happened ... by 2 p.m. that afternoon I had signed up online for a groomer’s course. I had one year to complete it, but was finished, diploma in had by June 13. On June 6, Wizard of Paws was established and I haven’t looked back. “I worked part-time at the post office in the morning and groomed in the afternoon for a year and a half. By July of 2013, I was getting so busy and burning out a bit that I quit the post office and became a full-time groomer. Right now it’s still only me at Wizard of Paws, but I do have another groomer working out of my shop since Sept 2014 — Jana, who works under her own name Claws n’ Paws, and works part-time in Swift and part-time in Gull Lake.” Sparks was happy to have been chosen as the Best Groomer in Swift Current. Dogs are her passion and she has strived to do the best she can at all times. She has worked extremely hard to get where she is today. She opened her new shop in Hillside Plaza in

March 2014. Because she is only two doors down from the Associate Pet Hospital, she has increased her clientele over the past year. “I feel very privileged to have won again. I did not

know about this contest last year and it was a friend who informed me that I had won,” says Sparks. “I credit my popularity to my clients. I seriously have the best clients. I try to accommodate my clients as much

as I can, working more days and sometimes longer hours. I work the occasional Saturday to fit in the clients that aren’t able to come during the week. During really busy seasons I also will come in on Sundays. “I felt very honoured to have been chosen then as I was still a fairly new groomer to the community. Like I said, this shows me how loyal my clients are. My client list has grown so large because of word of mouth. To me, that is the best advertising there is. To win this year again tells me how great my clients are and how I am trusted with their four-legged children. That decision over four years ago, was probably the best impulse I ever made.” Sparks is so busy she is in need of some help. She is currently working on hiring a few more people to work in the shop. She would like to train someone to work as a groomer so she can fit in more clients. She also wants to have the option of having walk-in appointments for more flexibility for her clients because now she is available by appointment only. During peak seasons such as Christmas and spring, she books three to four weeks in advance. Sparks loves Swift Current and says it’s a great place

to have a dog grooming business. “It’s big enough for every groomer to be very busy, but small enough that you get to know your own clients on a personal basis. I have met some terrific people in this community (and) made some really good friends. When a client’s dog passes away, I cry with them. I get very attached to my clients’ dogs,” she explains. “The people here are the absolute best. I appreciate them and try to show them by having contests for free grooms or other prizes. They are also are so appreciative of me and tell me so. I take my dog, Josie, to work with me everyday. My clients greet her before they greet me a lot of the time! I like that. “My clients love their pets so much that I feel they

would forego something else before taking care of their dogs’ grooming schedules. My clients care so much for their pets.”

Photo contributed

Lee Sparks, with her dog Josie, is pleased to have been named Swift Current’s Best Groomer.

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