Young Professional 2016: Christopher J. Porter

Christopher J. Porter is a partner at PorterKinney, Richland

Courtesy Rich Breshears of Breshears Photography.

Courtesy Rich Breshears of Breshears Photography.

Hometown: Boston

How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? 11 years

Family: I have been married to Crystal Porter for 11 years. We have four beautiful children: Cailyn, 10, Ashley, 7, Derek, 4, and Matthew, 1. We also have a cat named Cleo.

Company background: PorterKinney is a CPA firm located in Richland that specializes in strategic tax preparation for individuals and businesses as well as other accounting services including payroll and bookkeeping. The firm employs five individuals.

Tell us about your job/career and how you got into it: The firm dates back to 2006, when I began operating a home-based tax preparation firm and prepared my first tax returns on my kitchen counter. In 2012, I left my day job and converted the firm to a full-time operation. In 2014, Walter Kinney, CPA, left a large local firm to partner with me, and the name changed from Porter & Company to PorterKinney.

Business philosophy: My primary philosophy is simple: If you treat the customer well, your business will grow. I’m amazed at how many business owners don’t return phone calls and emails and are not transparent in their pricing and service offerings. At PorterKinney we strive to (1) return phone calls and emails, (2) explain difficult concepts clearly, (3) save our clients money by strategically preparing tax returns, and (4) treat our employees fairly with competitive compensation and frequent recognition.

Life philosophy: I would like to live my life so as to benefit as many people as possible. I view my business as more than just a career but as a way to assist others in achieving their goals. The last thing I want is to look back at my life only to realize that I spent a majority of my money and time enriching my life alone. I want to give back to others in a substantial way and spend a good portion of my time and resources in blessing the less fortunate.

Community involvement/community service: For the past two years, I have been a board member of Kadlec Foundation and a member of the major gifts sub-committee. In January, I was appointed to be the chair of the major gifts sub-committee and a member of the executive committee of the Board of Trustees. I have been a presenter for the Kadlec Foundation at numerous events. In addition to my work at Kadlec, I am a volunteer Boy Scout leader, a volunteer youth basketball coach and an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Who were your mentors and what did they teach you? My primary mentors are my parents. My father is an educated man with a doctorate from Harvard University. More importantly, he is a man who has dedicated his life to serve others and his church (he currently lives in Moscow, Russia, on an LDS Church assignment). From him I have learned tenacity, optimism in trial (his kidneys failed several years ago, which resulted in several health challenges), and the importance of education and faith. My mother is the daughter of a Jewish man who escaped the Holocaust as a 9-year-old boy. From her, I have learned selflessness, courage, optimism and faith.

Toughest business/career decision you had to make or obstacle you had to overcome? Leaving my stable, full-time job in 2012 to become a full-time entrepreneur. That decision was a huge leap of faith. Since I am the sole breadwinner in my family, I needed to make the business work as quickly as possible. My wife and I worked hard to save enough money to live on while I started the full-time venture. I only had about 70 tax clients at the time and knew I needed to triple that number as quickly as possible to make this business viable. Thankfully, it worked out!

First job: As a teenager, I took a job as a referee of a youth basketball league. I was constantly harassed by parents and players who felt I was making an incorrect call. I learned to make tough decisions and ignore the criticisms of others.

What do you like most about what you do? Interacting with community members. Over the past four years, through my work as a business owner and volunteer, I have learned so much from the many amazing people whom I have met in this community. I have been impressed with many people who work incredibly hard to start businesses, serve the community and bless the lives of others.

Least? Ironically, the accounting I do for my own business. The reason for my dislike is simple: it’s the only accounting work I do that is unpaid.

If you weren’t in your field, what would your dream job be? Writing children’s books. I tell my kids made-up stories all the time about dragons, castles, wizards and spells. My daughter tells me that I’m better than Rick Riordan but I have yet to prove it with a single publication.

What reality show would you like to be on? “The Amazing Race.” I love to travel!

Dream vacation: St. Petersburg, Russia. I speak fluent Russian because I served a mission in Russia but have never been to St. Petersburg!

Favorite book: “The Book of Mormon”

Favorite Tri-Cities hangout? Porter’s Real Barbecue (owned by my business partner’s brothers).

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Here in the Tri-Cities with a substantially larger business. Hopefully, by that time I will be able to be more removed from the day-to-day operations and spend more time doing volunteer work.

What thing would people be most surprised to learn about you? I lived seven of my first 21 years overseas. I lived in Frankfurt, Germany (two years), Munich, Germany (three years) and Russia (two years) — all before I graduated from college.

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