Annually at our firm conference, we celebrate our new partner promotions by encouraging them to deliver an acceptance speech of sorts (think Oscar speeches without the music that swells up when the speakers go on too long). These speeches tend to be a highlight of our conference, as everyone approaches them differently. Some are hilarious; others are more serious. But all are inspirational and heartwarming.
Each year, I find myself reflecting on when I first became partner, way back in 1991. My family and friends had planned a picnic to celebrate. It was a surprise, and my wife reached out to my friend, mentor, and Plante Moran partner Ken Kunkel, to invite him. Ken went to another one of my mentors, Bruce Berend, and said, “Why don’t we stop by, meet Gordon’s family, and give him some flak for riding our coattails all these years!” When I got to that picnic, I was shocked. Not only were my family and friends wearing embarrassing t-shirts bearing the slogan, “Plante & Moran & Krater,” but in their midst were two of the Plante Moraners I admired most in the world. (Luckily, they were very good-humored about the shirts!)
They became fast friends with my family, and I remember sitting there, watching them interact so easily and thinking, “This is what it’s all about. This makes it complete.” Because Ken and Bruce? They were like family, too.
Over the years, I’ve had several opportunities to experience the strength of the Plante Moran family. As we grow larger, we also grow stronger. Our recent merger with Chicago-based Blackman Kallick is evidence of this, catapulting us to the the sixth largest audit, tax, and management-consulting firm in Chicago. Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
Coming together is the easy part. Keeping together and working together are more challenging. Thanks to our firm and the strength of our people, I know we’re up to the challenge.