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June 6, 2014 2014 Business Champions: Best New Start-up

Customer service, recruiting talent fuel Premier Accounting's growth

Premier Accounting Group partner Robert Cappellucci (standing next to white board).
Partner Robert Davis
Partner Kimberly Richard

Premier Accounting Group may be new to the accounting and bookkeeping services world, but its President Robert E. Davis has decades of industry experience. Since 2011, his start-up has quickly developed a strong client base and become a formidable player in the outsourced accounting and bookkeeping services industry.

“We look a lot like a traditional [certified public accounting] firm,” said Davis. “We have a professional team here of 15 people at various levels — junior and senior accountants, to managers to [chief financial officer] staff.”

While it may look like a traditional accounting firm, Premier's services are different. It focuses on helping businesses with internal bookkeeping and accounting needs, rather than external needs such as taxes.

Premier caters to small-and medium-sized companies in a wide variety of industries, ranging from retail, restaurants and construction, to nonprofits and health care. Its services include Quickbooks, bookkeeping, accounting and controller/CFO consulting.

Davis, who manages the company with vice presidents Robert J. Cappellucci and Kimberly M. Richard, said it's not uncommon for businesses, such as a medical practice, to hire his company to do their bookkeeping and accounting work, rather than trying to find a qualified candidate for the job and get them trained.

“We're a truly outsourced business model,” he said. “Our companies say it just makes logical sense to outsource this so they can focus on their core competencies. They're carving out this piece of the business that they're not experts in and they're giving it to the experts.”

Of the different types of services offered by Premier, clients can pick and choose what they need. If a small company has no employees to process vendor invoices, payroll, deposits or financial statements, Premier can handle those duties. Other clients have staff taking care of the basics, such as payroll, but need higher-level support to oversee those employees. Premier offers them controller or chief financial officer support.

Davis worked for private firms after graduating from the University of Connecticut in 1982, including Concord Steel Corp. and Farmstead Telephone Group. He founded Accounting Resources Inc. in 1988, and ran that company for 20 years before selling his interest. Davis established Davis Consulting LLC in 2008, and ran that business until 2011, when he founded Premier Accounting Group with Cappellucci to expand the scope of services they offered to businesses.

Davis said the biggest challenge he has is finding the right staff.

“Recruiting talented people is absolutely the key part of our business,” Davis said. “It's a service business; you need great people.”

Davis recruits continuously through online job websites such as CareerBuilder and, and advertises in local newspapers such as the Glastonbury Citizen and River East. He also actively engages in networking to find the most highly qualified, service-oriented people available.

Recruiting is something that Davis said must be done constantly.

“We're always trying to stay ahead of the curve on recruiting,” he said. “Some companies look to run mean and lean, cutting overhead. We have a different philosophy.”

Davis said when they have a fully-trained, ready-to-go staff, they are able to quickly respond to clients' needs. He makes sure his employees are always ready.

“When you have capacity, you bring people on board, you train them in a controlled manner rather than throwing them into the fire,” he said. “You're able to respond to new opportunities when they come up. You can smother your clients with service when you have capacity.”

Davis said one of the things he's most proud of is the referrals Premier Accounting receives.

“When we're putting together a proposal, we're not scratching and clawing to find references,” he said. “We set the bar high, so we have many, many client success stories. We've had companies who have come to us and they have not had adequate bookkeeping and accounting or financial information, and we've turned them around.”

Carl Foster, vice president of Queen Associates, a Premier client, has had a business relationship with Davis for about 20 years. Foster said Davis and his partners have a talent for hiring the best people and delivering a great service.

“He understands his client's needs, and really delivers more than what his clients are looking for,” Foster said. “He has a company of just top-notch people. Everybody he hires is way above average in their capabilities. Because of that, it's been a pretty amazing trajectory.”

When a great team is assembled, Davis said, it's easy to provide superior service to clients.

“We named the company Premier because we really want to be the best,” he said. “In a service company, whether you're selling accounting services or some other service, the formula for success is very simple. You have to find the best people you can, treat them like gold and hopefully they'll stay for a long time.”

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