Spokane Journal of Business

Dingus Zarecor finds niche among health care nonprofits

DZA’s annual revenues typically rise by 15 percent

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-—Samantha Peone
Three of the firm’s partners Tom Dingus, left, Shar Sheaffer, and Shawn Johnson, stand in front of the “wellness board,” which can include topics such as positive thoughts or other health themes.

Tom Dingus, co-owner and managing partner at Spokane Valley-based Dingus, Zarecor & Associates PLLC, says the accounting firm caters to a narrow niche of customers.

That focus has led to substantial business growth for the firm over its 14 years in operation.    

Unlike many accounting businesses, that work in preparing individual or corporate taxes, Dingus, Zarecor & Associates, or DZA, works entirely with nonprofits, nearly all of which are in the health care sector, says Dingus.

Located at 12015 E. Main, DZA occupies its entire 7,200-square-foot building. The firm has been in that spot since its conception in July 2003, but it started out in a small section of the building, when DZA only employed Luke Zarecor, also a partner, and Dingus. Other partners in the firm include Shaun Johnson and Shar Sheaffer, he says. Within a few months, three other employees joined the firm. 

Now, DZA employs 34 people, two of whom work part time. The firm consists of 15 certified public accountants, 14 other accountants, and five support staff. Two more staff accountants are slated to join the firm in January 2018, he says. 

Although he declines to disclose annual revenue, Dingus says the firm has had average annual revenue growth of 15 percent, with 95 percent of revenue stemming from the health care nonprofits, Dingus says. 

The firm also has a high employee retention rate and sees between 10 and 15 percent employment growth each year; in the past two years, four employees have voluntarily left the firm, he says.

Dingus contributes the employment growth a couple factors. 

“We are very narrow in our expertise, and we have expertise in what we do, so we’re able to differentiate ourselves from the competitors,” he says. He lists customer service as a secondary factor.

Zarecor, co-owner and partner, says the firm is a big supporter of the Eastern Washington University accounting program. More than half the firm’s accountants come from that program. 

The firm offers a three-month sabbatical program for employees that have been working there for at least five years. DZA also offers employees schedule flexibility, he says.

The firm’s primary clientele consists of critical access hospitals, which are hospitals that have less than 25 beds in rural communities. Community health centers are also common clients, Dingus says. 

Clients include health care institutions, rural health clinics, home health agencies, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and other related organizations, he says.

Dingus says the CPA firm works with both governmental and nongovernmental health care organizations, but all their clients are nonprofit. Those clients are located in 12 different states: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming. 

In the Inland Northwest, the firm’s clients include Pullman Regional Hospital, Newport Hospital & Health Services, Odessa Memorial Healthcare Center, Hospice of Spokane, and Rockwood Retirement Communities, he says. 

The business works frequently with Medicare cost report preparation and consulting. Other specialties include auditing financial statements and auditing employee benefit pension plans and financial statements, and completing Form 990s, the information return document tax exempt organizations file with the Internal Revenue Service, he says.

DZA also helps health care organizations with regulatory compliances, which include staying in compliance with Medicare, filing year-end data reports, and complying with different billing and reimbursement policies, he says.

Because nonprofit organizations don’t pay taxes, the firm seldomworks in tax preparation, he says. 

Dingus says DZA chose to work with nonprofits and health care organizations because the partners had previous accounting experience in those areas.

Before opening DZA, Dingus and Zarecor worked together at Spokane-based LeMaster & Daniels PLLC, which was purchased by Minneapolis-based CliftonLarsonAllen LLP. Johnson also worked at that firm. After that, he worked for a different firm before joining DZA. He became a partner Jan. 1, 2015. Sheaffer worked for Michael R. Bell & Co., which is now part of Milwaukee-based Wipfli LLP, before joining DZA about 10 years ago, becoming a partner a few years later, says Dingus. 

Dingus says DZA is trying to avoid moving out of its current building for as long as possible, but he knows they will eventually grow beyond the building’s capacity.

He thinks Spokane is a convenient place to do business for many reasons, including the ease of access to the Spokane International Airport

Because of DZA’s method of doing business, people don’t come to their office often, and employees get to dress casually. The firm also enjoys relatively low occupancy cost, at $6,100 per month, he asserts.

 “Nobody comes here, only us, so it doesn’t need to be in a high-profile area,” he says. 

Dingus says employees can keep their hours around 50 hours a week maximum, but that can be higher when traveling. 

The firm has two peak work seasons: February through April, which Dingus says sometimes spills into May, and August through October. Several clients, especially those out of state, have fiscal years that end June 30. DZA spends those busier work periods completing clients’ year-end filings for the calendar year and June 30 fiscal year, respectively, he says. 

Separately, he says, “I think we have a really good team culture here. People work really well together and know that they have a voice, supporting each other in doing what they do.”

Samantha Peone
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Reporter Samantha Peone joined the Journal in 2015 as research coordinator before later transitioning into a reporter role. She covers real estate and construction.

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