Class of 2014
Accountant Jamie Henkemeyer was co-chair of United Way of Central Minnesota campaign for 2015 and also gives back to the community by coaching youth hockey and football teams.
What are you doing now?
Principal at the St. Cloud office of CliftonLarsonAllen.
How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?
It was a great experience which offered more attention than I was used to. Many, many notes, cards and social media tickles of congratulations from friends and family, peers and others invested in our community.
Other big changes since you received the award?
Very few, given it's only been six months.
What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?
Investment in talent, just like a state university looks at recruiting sports talent. We have to win the recruiting battle with our (in-state) kids and win our share of out-of-state (or community) battles. Support those who have the aptitude and courage to be business owners as our economic engine doesn't run without them.
Originally ran: January 18, 2015
Jamie Henkemeyer grew up in Sauk Rapids and, other than a short stint of commuting to a Twin Cities accounting office, he has always found his focus firmly rooted in Central Minnesota.
He played hockey for Sauk Rapids-Rice High School before graduating in 1994 and has never been far from the game. He played intramurals and started coaching youth teams while he pursued a double-major in accounting and chemistry at St. Cloud State University.
Now, as a 39-year-old principal at CliftonLarsonAllen, an accounting firm with 90 offices in 30 states, Henkemeyer collaborates on deals like Granite Equity Partners' acquisitions of Microbiologics and GeoComm in recent years. Those are growing business that are on the leading edge of helping St. Cloud create technology jobs. And Granite Equity is a group that has allowed local ownership to continue after founders have eased out of those operations.
But when tax season encroaches on Henkemeyer's life, it's the game that is a reminder to save time for his wife and their three children.
"I've been the classic overzealous dad," Henkemeyer said. "I think our oldest skated at 15 months. But there are a lot of benefits from the process. Our peer groups have developed out of youth hockey. ... It's a platform to connect to life lessons that you need to learn and how you can't just show up and be successful."
Henkemeyer knows the way, in hockey and business. He's one of the youngest principals with CliftonLarsonAllen, leads recruiting for the St. Cloud office and is committed to being a winner in many areas.
How did you choose this career path, and why have you been successful at a relatively young age?
I was thinking of going pre-med or pre-dental, and my grades were solid. My heart just wasn't in it. I had an uncle who was a local painting contractor. I'd been working for him for six or seven summers and he thought I'd be a good person in the business long-term. ... I went through the list of business majors and accounting seemed practical. At the end of my sixth year of going to school full-time, we had some discussions that the business was probably better for his second generation. I had to change course and I fell into public accounting. It's been a great fit, but by blind luck.
I knew early on in my career at LarsonAllen this was right for me. A client was coming in to pick up his financial statements and the principal, who knew everything, wanted me to deliver them because he wasn't going be in that day. To my surprise, the business owner sat down and said ‘Can we go over these?' I knew the numbers well enough and I said ‘Sure. Let's do that.'
We talked for an hour and he had all these questions about what I thought, what my perspective was, what was he doing well or what could he do better. They were big decisions. I found myself talking — and I wasn't as good then as I hoped to be in the future — and the key to it was he was listening, paying attention and keying in on the words. It felt like a drug. The idea that the business owner, who has had all this success, is willing to listen to my input and advice, was terrific. And I get to do that now with about 40 businesses.
What is your role, and how much of your job is in the area of working with private equity groups?
Private equity groups are constantly looking for new acquisitions and investments. Depending on the relationship, they will use us to structure and come up with the value of a deal. But the biggest use of our resources to date has been buy-side due diligence prior to close. In other words, they make an offer, based on the numbers they're provided, but then they're allowed a period of time to verify the numbers. So we'll go in and it feels like an audit. We produce a 40- to 50-page report where we provide them a description and analytics, key assumptions. If the buyer's expectation isn't met, we try to work to see if we can still find a way to close the deal. The price could fluctuate.
After the close, we typically retain the client on a go-forward basis. So we'll do their annuity work on their tax returns, their audits and any consulting they need. It's exciting new work and we're typically rewarded on the back end. It represents about one-third of what I do.
You've said technology is a growing space you are supporting in the St. Cloud market. How is that important in the local economy?
In the last three years, we've been formally recognizing this. It's in my sand box, in one of the corners, and we've found a fair amount of our growth and new clients have been in that space. Geography could be part of it. You have (NativeX) and Netgain. There seems to be a hotbed ... I think it's important for multiple reasons. St. Cloud had a really good run in the 1980s and 1990s. And I'd like to think, as someone committed to this community over the next 20 or 30 years before I can retire, I'd hope we have another good run in us. Technology is going to play an important part in a lot of the new businesses that pop up.
What would constitute another ‘good run'?
It felt like this town really established itself during that time frame. I worked in construction from 1992-2000 and the way the west side grew during that time, we were constantly working on new retail space and big box stores. The contractors were more worried about having enough people to do the work than who had the lowest bid. It was a great time. I remember leaving college and not being overly concerned about finding employment. It felt like when I was growing up and understanding what community meant, this was a good place to be.
The fact that we have such high quality higher education in this area is a competitive advantage. I see a lot of companies that do really well with recruiting and retaining white-collar talent. I think there are many that struggle with the blue-collar demand, highly skilled jobs that aren't supported by the four-year degree ... But I think, at the end of the day, if you had a top-10 list of places to be, I think this is on it. I think it's a great place to raise children. It's safe and the business environment is strong.
How do you see Central Minnesota business changing in the next three years?
If you look at the statistics of how old business owners are, it's staggering. Over the next 10 years, some people say 60-70 percent of those business owners are going to leave their ownership. We are having a lot of discussions in terms of management succession, wealth succession and estate planning. There aren't a lot of numbers involved in that. It's a lot more feeling. Things you're not trained on in college. That process is defining legacy and it can be hard. It's not instinctual but it's really important. If you get above $10 million in wealth in your estate, half of that will go to the government when you die. Our business owners need to plan ahead and have a soft landing where things are executed well.
Family: Wife, Katie; sons Jack, 14, and Max, 7, and daughter Aubrey, 18 months.
Education: Bachelor's degree in accounting and chemistry (double major) from St. Cloud State University.
FYI: Co-chair of United Way of Central Minnesota campaign for 2015. Has coached youth hockey for more than eight years and also coached fifth- and sixth-grade football.
Recently ended a three-year term on the St. Cloud park and recreation advisory committee and also completed a stint as treasurer of the Rotary Club of St. Cloud. To learn more, visitwww.claconnect.com.