Year of Local
This is the third in a series of submitted stories produced by the Year of Local, a collaborative project highlighting businesses and not-for-profit organizations in Sarnia.
If you ask Lisa Mayer why she wanted to run her own accounting firm in Sarnia, her answer might surprise you.
Of course she was good at math, so accounting was a solid fit. However, she always knew that she wanted to be her own boss.
“My mom and dad brought me to the Sarnia Meat Packers as a kid and you could just feel the closeness of the small family business as a young child. They were so friendly and the community loved them. It was places like this that made me want to open my own business when I got older.”
Mayer studied accounting at Ryerson University and spent six years working for an accounting firm.
“I worked at Fuller Landau in downtown Toronto after graduating and did my articling with them,” the CPA said. “They were a really big firm but they were also the type of firm that got you involved. I still have a really great relationship with them. In fact, I lined up a job for one of my prior staff, Lisa Little.”
Mayer remembers being singled out in Toronto for always talking about her hometown.
“In Toronto they called me Woody Harrelson. His character from Cheers was from that small town in Indiana and he was always talking about it.”
It was no surprise to her colleagues she planned to return home one day.
After six years with Fuller Landau, Mayer moved to London to work for BDO, and after the birth of her first child knew she wanted to move back to Sarnia permanently.
Working at other firms gave her a chance to pick out the things she really liked and then applied them to her own practice, she said.
In 2005 she bought the late Keith Carter’s accounting practice in Sarnia. It was a smooth transition, in part because Carter and Mayer envisioned the same type of practice.
“Keith’s personality was similar to mine so the transition with his clients went really well. It was a great fit,” she said. She also kept on his staff, including Cathy Ashikawa, who retired in 2013, and Jane Courtemanche, who still works with her.
“Jane had worked for Keith and is still with me today. She’s a great team member. Cathy is now retired and I miss her every day.”
Mayer has also added staff members to Lisa Mayer CA Professional Corporation: Donna Pawson, Ashley Wilson, Joscel Berglund and Ryan Robinson.
She believes strongly in the importance of balance in business. “I always wanted my work environment to be fun and professional. It has also differentiated me and allowed me to pull together a team that fits nicely,” she said.
The camaraderie among office staff is especially important during the busy season, she added.
“We have a lot of fun around here most of the time and we make the best of it during tax season.”
The office is located in the St. Clair Corporate Centre, 265 Front St. N., Suite 409.