Cain Ellsworth helps clients improve their numbers by going beyond the numbers

This piece is presented by Cain Ellsworth & Company LLP.

The leaders at Cain Ellsworth & Company LLP set their firm apart by focusing on helping businesses grow their numbers – not just crunch them.

Kevin Cain

“We don’t just want to do a tax return and send a bill,” managing partner Kevin Cain said. “We see our role as broader than that. We want to help people who are serious enough about growing their business. That’s where the value is.”

The Sheldon, Iowa-based firm expanded to Sioux Falls in 2014 and is carving its niche in the market.

“Our mission is to help businesses and communities grow, profit and prosper,” said Stacie Dykstra, director of business development. “We want to be the greatest outside contributor to our clients’ ability to be successful and make change. We do that by going beyond the numbers.”

Cain Ellsworth offers many traditional CPA services – audit reviews, compliance, bookkeeping, payroll, tax planning and tax preparation – “but we want to be a catalyst for our clients to help implement change,” Dykstra said. “You can’t just stay where you’re at. You’re either moving forward or backward.”

The firm maintains a close relationship with its clients, as they help analyze financials and apply insight to drive strategy. While large organizations can achieve that at the CFO level, the small and midsized businesses that Cain Ellsworth largely works with need the additional perspective. The firm also offers help with business plans and human resources.

Stacie Dykstra

“For an owner of a business, it can be very lonely,” Dykstra said. “You are very limited in the number of people you can talk to about your business. In our role, we’re independent. We aren’t loaning them any money. We aren’t selling them investments. We’re a CPA firm that does not manage or sell investments, and it’s important to us to maintain that independence.”

The firm specializes in working with community banks, manufacturers, property and casualty insurance companies, locally owned insurance agencies, and construction contractors and subcontractors.

“And we do work with some large manufacturers that have a C-suite and also love working with them,” Dykstra said. “We also work with a lot of professionals, closely owned businesses like dentists, chiropractors and other independent medical offices.”

Family legacy

John Cain founded the firm in 1968, after working as an accountant in Des Moines. He wanted to raise his family of six in a small town without an accountant and with a Catholic school, and he settled in Sheldon.

His first client was an insurance company that remains a client today.

Mark Ellsworth joined the firm in 1972, and both partners have since retired.

Kevin Cain, who remembers cleaning the office as a kid, left his accounting practice in Des Moines in 1998 to return home and raise his children.

“The main thing I remember about my dad building the business was him visiting with people,” Cain said. “So I’ve always had the perspective that it’s not a numbers business but a people business.”

Many of the staff of 25 split time between Sheldon and Sioux Falls.

“We have a very family-friendly, flexible work environment,” Dykstra said. “Is tax season a reality for us? You bet, and we have to work longer hours, but our people do not work 70- and 80-hour weeks. They work hard, but they can have a balance.” 

Sioux Falls expansion

A few years ago, the firm realized it needed to expand beyond Sheldon to continue to grow, recruit and retain key employees while providing staff with new, challenging experiences.

“We began looking at communities which were an easy drive from Sheldon and those which had a large number of locally owned businesses,” Cain said.

“Sioux Falls is growing rapidly, and a lot of our customers are small family businesses, and we do a lot of work with ag businesses and rural banks. Obviously, it’s the commercial center of South Dakota, but the biggest factor was the ability to attract young people to that office because that’s a struggle in Sheldon.”

The experience has been a good one, he said.

“It’s going really well. We’re pleased. We know we’re small in Sioux Falls, and we have a very long-term perspective,” Cain said. “We’re going to be here for the long run, and we’re patient. If we get our tiny share of the market, we’ll be busy there. We know there’s a place in the market for the differences we offer.”

The expansion has helped the firm, too, Dykstra said.

“We have found that we cannot be complacent, and that’s a very common thing in this very traditional industry. Usually, you just see your tax person at tax time, and everything is always the same,” she said.

“We are about doing things different and not getting complacent with our clients. Sioux Falls challenges us to not let that happen. We have met great people and have loved being part of the community. It has made us more passionate and committed to what we do.”

Team members at Cain Ellsworth & Company

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Cain Ellsworth helps clients improve their numbers by going beyond the numbers

The leaders at Cain Ellsworth & Company LLP set their firm apart by focusing on helping businesses grow their numbers – not just crunch them.

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