By Mark Inman
When Scott Reed and Jack Whipple talk about St. Bonaventure University they talk about more than just their alma mater. For them, SBU is an on-going experience.
The two proud alumni have both lived in Olean and worked at one of the top 10 accounting firms in Western New York, Buffamante, Whipple, Buttafarro, P.C., virtually since they left SBU. Whipple, ‘77, began shortly after graduating, and Reed, ‘80, continued an internship into full employment. Both are shareholders in the firm with Whipple serving as CEO and Reed serving as Director of Quality Control.
The link between the regional accounting firm and St. Bonaventure is tight. An influx of new talent appears every year as nine SBU grads now work at the firm’s three locations in Olean, Jamestown, and Orchard Park, with two more to begin in May.
“The accounting program at SBU has always been strong. Grads BWB hires are very well prepared for challenges we throw at them,” Reed said. “The internship process is excellent as it ensures graduates are as ready as they can be when they graduate.”
Whipple recognizes SBU as a “helping hand” through the years he has been associated with the university at Buffamante, Whipple, Buttafarro.
“If you’re dealing with someone from the SBU community, most of the time you can rely on them just knowing they’re from SBU,” he said. “I’ve travelled all over and when I have an SBU shirt on almost always someone mentions ‘I know Bona’s,’ or ‘I went to Bona’s.’ It makes you feel good to know you’re a part of that community.”
“There is a nice synergy between our firm and the university,” Reed said. “It’s not just the students that we end up employing but there are a lot of BWB people who end up at the university. In a lot of ways we are joined at the hip.”
Such interconnectedness has been an integral part in the lives and careers of Whipple and Reed. Reed began his internship and career with BWB through placement by former accounting professor Patrick Premo. Whipple recounts that current accounting professor John McAllister guided his career outlook
“He really influenced me to get into public accounting. He told me that it’s alright to stay local and I didn’t have to leave the area to work as an accountant,” Whipple said. “It’s these words of encouragement that the spirit of folks Bonaventure seems to attract.”
Both admit that their work in public accounting is challenging, however, the relationships they have made are the most rewarding aspect of the profession.
“From a business point of view, the most challenging thing is that we’re committed to the communities we’re in,” Whipple said. “We’re competing often with national firms that have different resources than ours, so our business challenge is to find ways to grow our practice and the only way we know how to do that is to focus on client service.”
Part of their commitment to the local area involves participation in community service projects.
Reed is currently a member of the finance committee and parish council of the St. Bonaventure Church in Allegany, New York. He served as president and fundraiser for the Olean Area United Way and treasurer on the board of directors of Cattaraugus County Council on the Arts.
Whipple served on the board of directors of the Mental Health Association in Cattaraugus County.
“During my service work, I first realized what a powerful thing having a financial background can be,” Whipple said. “Having the knowledge that you can help a lot of different types of organizations that may have nothing to do with accounting but all have needs for those skills.”
Reed agrees with the versatility of their education.
“All organizations need some fundamentals in financial matters. At the United Way we’d be in constant contact with all the people they worked with and it really opened my eyes to what we can offer to many types of groups.”
Taking their education in the Franciscan tradition to BWB, Reed and Whipple actively encourage their staff to give back.
“Many people in our firm are involved in projects from Meals on Wheels to the United Way and other non-profits,” Whipple said. “We don’t have trouble getting people to do it. Our staff members come to us and explain their interests and it may involve time away from work and we give them the OK. I think the people at BWB and the general community are very caring.”
The commitment to community has rewarded Whipple and Reed in their respective careers and personal lives.
“What a quality of life you can have in this community,” Reed said. “We both met our wives locally. Olean is a wonderful place to raise a family.”
“Don’t always think that in order to have a successful career that you have to work in a national firm,” Whipple said. “The opportunities in accounting are endless as it is a great starting point to run a business of any fashion.”