Noctiluca

David Donze, Class of 2001

Olivia Molter, Photography Editor

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Noctiluca: What is your job description?

Donze: I am the owner of Donze CPA LLC. As the owner, I either do or oversee everything at the firm. As a firm, we help our clients move closer toward their respective goals by means of tax and accounting planning and strategies. I meet with the clients, develop the relationships so we can best help them plan and strategize. During tax season , I work about 70+ hours per week through mid-April. Then, I work an average of 30-40 hours for the rest of the year.

N: How have you reached the position that you are in now? What steps/choices have you made to get become the owner of your own accounting firm?

D: I worked about 10 years in the tax world for accounting firms or inside large corporations after graduating from UW Oshkosh with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, majors in both Accounting and Finance. Starting at ANHS, I developed big goals. I had goals of either being top financial officer in a company or running my own business. What started as a thought while hanging out in the garage duing the fall of 2014 became a reality in early 2015. On February 7th, 2015, we opened the doors of Donze CPA LLC. The firm started as a home office in my house. In December 2017, we moved the office to an 1,800 square foot commercial office space on Ballard Road. We also have a satellite office in Green Bay to serve our growing Green Bay connections. We started with 0 clients. Slowly, that number became 5, then 10, then 20, then 40, and so on. By the end of 2015, we had about 60 clients. 2 weeks ago, we accumulated 500 clients. I think today we have over 530 clients. I hired my wife, Liz (fellow accountant), full-time in January 1st 2018, and also added an Administrative Professional December 2017 who’s working 30+ hours/week.

The steps to get here to today are numerous. The first step is to obtain the right education and certification. The second step is to learn the industry by working in it. The third step is figure out how the work can be improved, and the fourth is to take action after lots of planning to start my own accounting firm. I joined the Army Reserves to be a Drill Sergeant the summer after my 1st year at college: an eight year commitment, yet one of my best decisions ever. It gave me the tools and the mindset to focus my energy on multiple things at once while still paying attention to the fine details.

I’m a bit of a rebel. My last employer told me that I’d never be able to succeed on my own. Guess what? He was so wrong. The best revenge is massive success. Today, I’m well on my way on getting that massive success. A big step in starting my own CPA firm was that I was at a point of being fed up with the old school way accounting firms treated the clients and developed business. I don’t fit well in a square box. I see my firm as an industry game changer in the local community. We’ve done some things to get that positioning started, and have many more things coming down the pipeline over the next few years.

N: How did your experiences at North help you in your career?

D: North helped me a ton. The ANHS community was the platform that I needed to launch toward my own goals and aspirations. I grew up dirt poor. Family life was tough. Dad wasn’t in the picture, Mom was at Mayo Clinic and the hospital for a lot of my Junior and Senior years. Local gang would mess with our car and other property. ANHS provided a community of friends, mentors, and teachers that provided the platform for me to see past current life struggles and plan forward for how I want my life to be. Teachers and staff were great. Although I missed a ton of school caring for my mom and participating in many school-related functions and activities, I had a few teachers that really went next level to be amazing people. The staff, including the help of Mr. Dave Pynenberg, were able to connect with me Mr. Gilbert (at that time, the current CEO of AAL, which is now called Thrivent). Gilbert was more of a person I saw as “that can be me if I want it” person. Work hard, and play hard. The staff were really good at helping me identify various ways to pay for college. Beyond working 2 part-time jobs, staff pointed out that Scholarships were possible. I was awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships. The accounting teacher (now Roberta Baker) and the marketing teacher, Mrs. Dechant, were important as well. I was very much an introvert. With DECA, it gave me the push to become more of the person I am today. That push led to great things, which led to great things, etc. Growth compounds on growth. Now, my wife Liz Donze thinks it’s funny that I was once an introvert. The cross-country coaches were terrific. Although I didn’t really learn how to run fast until I joined the Army, the coaches were mentors.

N: What is one piece of advice you would give to current North students?

D: If you want something bad enough, go get it. Life is hard, so what; it’s only hard when you let it be hard. Do NOT be your own excuse for life not going the way you want it. The ANHS community is a platform from which you can launch your own path in life.

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