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Friday, May 1, 2020

Dave Gardner Retires After 43 Years Of Accounting In Powder River County

From the Powder River Examiner April 30th, 2020 edition - 

Dave Gardner, longtime CPA at Gardner & Billing CPAs, LLC in Broadus, retired on April 15th.

Gardner grew up locally, graduating from Broadus High School in 1970, and then going on to college at Montana State University – Bozeman, where he graduated in 1974, with a Business degree with Accounting Option. 

In 1977, Dave, along with his bride Pat Phillips Gardner, moved to Broadus, opening Gardner's Financial Services. 

Located in the Rolfson Agency (the building which most recently housed Hair Restorations), Gardner Financial Services performed a variety of accounting services to area residents. After several years at the downtown location, the Gardners moved to a house near the clinic, where Dave worked out of the home. 

During this time, the family welcomed sons Josh and Tyler (and eventually added another son, Todd, in 1986). For a period of time, Pat ran a daycare, then worked night shifts at Powder River Manor, with Dave pulling accounting duty downstairs during the day, and babysitting duty upstairs at night. During a recent interview, Dave said this portion of the couple's life was "all hands on deck" raising kids and working hard to get ahead.

In late 1979, the business moved to Marge Chiesa's building in downtown Broadus, where Gardner & Billing CPAs, LLC is still located today. When Gardners first moved to the building it had originally housed Little Joe's Barber Shop, as well as Lou and Betty Weiser's Liquor Store.

Following the death of Pat's dad, Jim Phillips, Dave and Pat moved their family to the Phillips Ranch in 1982, where they raised their 3 sons, and continue to live today. 

In 1984, Dave passed the CPA exam, and expanded his business to include all the advanced accounting, payroll, and tax services entailed by the position. He said that the exam was significantly different than what is given today: "In those days, the exam was given twice a year, and you wouldn't find out your results for up to three months".

Dave's career spanned a timeframe which saw many changes in areas but most significantly in technology opportunities. When he began bookkeeping, everything was done manually with paper and pencil. Dave said that during the mid to late '80s, his business was one of the first in town to begin to harness the power of the computer, which Dave says was "a big deal at the time".

Initially the office only had one computer, so Dave and his employees scheduled their time on the computer, so everyone had to have their "ducks in a row" in order to complete their work during their coveted computer time.

Dave rented out office space in the building to a variety of businesses, including Lance Tonn, who provided law services a couple days a week, Russ Greenwood and his life insurance business, Ambrey Gartner's water rights filing business, Jon Craft's Farm Bureau Insurance, and most recently Michelle Patten with Patten Bookkeeping and Consulting.

Dave told us that at one time, four different offices were operating in the building, with secretary Darlene Hayden directing calls for all four offices on four separate phone lines; a task which she handled well despite the complicated work at hand. Just imagine 4 separate rotary dial phones, on your desk, and making sure you answered with the correct greeting!

Melissa Billing began working with Dave in 2002, beginning in payroll and expanding her areas of expertise over the years to include tax work. "She's been a signifigant difference-maker factor in the business since she first came on," Dave commented.

Billing would go on to pass her CPA exam in 2009, and become a partner in the business.

Dave said that five or six years ago, he began to think about retirement, and after talking with Billing, the decision was made for Billing to purchase the business and Dave to retire, with everything transferring over in 2019. Dave formally retired on Tax Day – April 15th of this year.

In retirement, Dave is looking forward to having extra time to tinker on stuff around his place.  Dave will continue to help Tyler out on the family ranch, and plans on continuing to serve on the School and Community Development Council, for which Dave is a founding member.

Over the years, Dave contributed a great deal of time to the community, not only through the SCDC, with the help and grants they provide, but also with the Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture (where Dave said he held every office at one time or another), the Fair Board, and two terms on the School Board. Dave and his fellow board members on the newly organized Medical Advisory Board to the County Commissioners are busy learning about the needs and challenges with providing local access to quality medical services. 

Dave credits Pat as a big part of his success over the years. Her support, both at home and as an office manager from 1992 to 2014, were instrumental in the growth and success of the business.

The couple look forward to retirement, with plans to spend winter in the warmth of Arizona-always returning to the Broadus community to spend time in God's Country with the greatest people! Dave said, "The best part of being gone, is coming home!"