arkarian & Meehan, Ltd., a boutique CPA firm in Wakefield, Rhode Island, is a Bryant stronghold. It counts seven alumni among its ranks of 26 staff members, including the five partners (of whom two are retired). The firm’s founding partner, Thomas W. Markarian ’66, ’89 MST
started the practice in 1972, retiring last fall. Partners include James P. Meehan ’76, ’85 MST
, who retired in April, and current partners Robert L. Pasquazzi ’80, ’91 MST,
Stuart E. Woodard ’86
, and Steven Zaroogian ’80, ’85 MBA, ’93 MST
, the firm’s managing partner.
Even as a youth, Zaroogian
understood that reasonable risks yield rich rewards. As a first-generation college student, he assumed debt to attend Bryant. Upon graduation, he declined a management-track position offered to him by the hardware store where he’d worked part-time during college. “I went to school for four years; I have to take a risk and seek an accounting position,” Zaroogian recalls telling his skeptical father.
Sustaining the local economy,
diverse clients benefit from the firm’s sophisticated knowledge and expertise, presented with warm, personal attention.
Clients range from commercial fishing operations and independent or family-
owned businesses to a local software company ABAQUS, Inc., that Dassault Systems (Simulia), a subsidiary of Dassault Group, purchased for $415 million.
Just as southern Rhode Islanders relish
the delicious seafood harvested from nearby ocean waters by the firm’s clients and others, their informal encounters with local business people—including partners and staff members—foster the intimacy and comfort of small-town life.
The largest accounting firm in the region, Markarian & Meehan, provides accounting and tax advice that ensures the continuing viability of local businesses. Many partners and staff members volunteer with nonprofit organizations, be it their
church, as Zaroogian has done for decades, a national organization’s Rhode Island chapter, or a local sports team. “Pick a passion and get involved; it’ll make you a better and more well-rounded individual,” Zaroogian urges.
The firm exemplifies the best in small-business practices, given Zaroogian’s commitment to achieving a productive work-life balance—a concept unheard of earlier in his accounting career. “I am very transparent; with me, what you see is what you get,” he says. He maintains a wide open door policy for staff members to discuss their personal and professional concerns, and counsels and advises his high net-worth clients on succession, estate planning, and transactional issues.
Deftly juggling these oft-competing demands, Zaroogian strives to meet the best interests of the firm and its clients, partners, and staff members. Perhaps that’s why Markarian & Meehan has an extremely low client and staff turnover,
a rarity in the industry.
Nurturing a strong collegial environment seems second nature for Zaroogian, who says, “The words ‘I’ and ‘me’ aren’t healthy in a business environment.” When a staff member errs, Zaroogian
accepts responsibility and vows to improve his own skills to forestall future problems. “When mistakes happen, I have to work harder to regain a client’s trust and confidence,” he explains. In recruiting and retaining the most qualified candidates, many small businesses struggle to compete against Fortune 500 companies’ perks, prestige, and travel opportunities. That’s true here, says Zaroogian, who is actively recruiting for a senior accounting manager with partnership potential and other senior positions. Given its ambience, Markarian & Meehan offers a more
attractive lifestyle than do the largest
accounting firms, he asserts.
Although “business-strangling” regulations frustrate Zaroogian, he finds satisfaction in knowing the firm has a profound impact on its small business clients, who appreciate Markarian & Meehan’s proactive advice and acumen.
Nancy Kirsch is a Providence-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Bryant magazine.