David B. Korte, MST, CPA, AEP®

“My first job – when I was 14 years old – was at the local Dairy Queen. I was paid $2.50 per hour and was able to save $1,000 over one summer.”

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David Korte’s great grandfather, Russ Walsh, was a very well-known magician during the 1940s, 50s and 60s. 

My Story

I was born near the Detroit area in Dearborn, Michigan, and when I was three years old, my family moved to Cadillac, Michigan, a town of approximately 10,000.

My first job – when I was 14 years old – was at the local Dairy Queen. I was paid $2.50 per hour and was able to save $1,000 over one summer. The same local family, which owned the Dairy Queen, also owned the Kentucky Fried Chicken, so after the DQ closed for the summer, I began working at KFC.  While working at KFC, the owner asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I told him that I wanted to be a tax attorney. I was only 15, but somehow knew what would eventually come true.

During my senior year of high school, I began working at The Pines Nightclub as a disc jockey. Back then we were actually spinning records! I credit my experience working at bar for bringing out much of the personality people know today. Prior to this experience, I was a very shy kid with a personality that fit more of the traditional accountant. I often make the joke that you can tell you’re talking to an extroverted accountant because they are looking at your shoes instead of their own when speaking to you. Early on, I spent a lot of time looking at my shoes. Over six years and two different bars, my personality grew and I became comfortable conversing with just about anyone. 

During my college years, I had several other jobs that ran concurrent with working at the nightclub. Pruning Christmas trees during the summer of 1988 was, hands down, the job that convinced me that I must finish my college education. 

I graduated in December 1991 from Central Michigan University with a degree in accounting. Unfortunately, I graduated without a job in my chosen field, so I went back home to Cadillac and continued working at The Pines at night while working for a small tax and accounting service during the day. 

After more than a year of doing this, I knew the only way to move forward was to be somewhere with greater professional opportunity, so I moved to Grand Rapids in the spring of 1993. I enrolled in a CPA review course and worked part time for a moving company. Just after taking the CPA exam in the fall of 1993, I was offered temporary employment at Old Kent Bank, and within a month, received a full time offer. I passed the CPA exam, but knew I needed audit experience to gain my CPA license.

I interviewed and received a job offer from BDO Seidman in July 1996. During the BDO interview process, I realized just how far behind I was compared to my peers . . . the individuals interviewing me were my age and younger and so much further ahead in their careers. Now was time to get serious about my career. 

At BDO, I was given the opportunity to meet and work with many great clients, and many of the relationships I established at BDO continue today for which I remain thankful.

I’ve been married to Angela Balbaugh since 1999. We met volunteering for the Grand Valley State University Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program. At that time she worked for Plante Moran, and we were the only people from our firms that didn’t come with a co-worker . . . so we got paired up and have been paired up ever since.

We have two children, Kyle and Eva. Kyle and I began scuba diving together in 2011. It is my favorite father-son activity. Eva is a gymnast. I watch her train and compete with incredible pride.

My Expertise

I am the founder of Korte & Kowatch (formerly Korte Consulting, PLLC); a Grand Rapids based tax-consulting practice. I specialize in tax compliance and consulting services for high net worth families, ranging in size from $5 million to $500 million.

I have significant experience in advising private organizations and their shareholders on domestic issues including federal taxation, state and local taxation, trust and estate issues. I have been extensively involved in numerous capital transactions. These include pre-IPO gifting and structuring; reorganization of multiple businesses within a family group; formation of new entities for transfer tax purposes and purchase of off-shore manufacturing facilities.

I started my practice in January 2002 after spending six-and-a-half years with BDO Seidman, LLP, which I joined BDO from the private sector. In the private sector, I was an income tax administrator in the trust tax department of Old Kent Bank, where my responsibilities included trust document analysis for federal income tax purposes, tax compliance for trusts and individuals.

I received my Bachelor of Science degree from Central Michigan University and my Master of Science in Taxation from Grand Valley State University.

I am professionally affiliated with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants and the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils.


Philip L. Kowatch, MST, CPA

“Although it was very costly to attend Northwood, my work on the farm allowed me to amass a very sizeable nest egg for an 18-year-old.”

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None of Philip Kowatch’s grandparents or parents had gone to college. Since he was the oldest of seven children, he was going to be a pioneer. 

My Story

I was born and raised in the village of Pewamo, Michigan, a small community just north of Lansing settled by German farmers in the mid-1800s. My grandparents and my parents were dairy farmers, and I began working on the farm at a young age. Operating a dairy farm involves long days and a lot of stress. The cows had to be milked early in the morning, and then again in the evening. We were always tuned in to the price of milk much like investors watch the stock market. But my family was always upbeat, and it was extremely fulfilling to be able to work together as a family on the farm.

When I was 12 years old my father sold the dairy farm, and I had no place to use my farming skills until a neighbor hired me to work on his dairy farm for the next 10 years at $2 per hour. During the school year, I got off the school bus and headed to the farm to milk cows before coming home to do my homework.

Needless to say, I had always imagined that I would make farming my career. It was not until I was a high school sophomore that I began to seriously think that I might want to do something else. I signed up for an accounting class and though I discovered that I was pretty good at it, I soon realized that I would need a college degree. None of my grandparents or parents had gone to college, and since I was the oldest of seven children, I was going to be a pioneer. Unlike many high school students who have natural uncertainty about what they want to do with their careers, I was uniquely focused on what I wanted to do.

I attended Northwood University, in Midland, Michigan, a small, private business school that was not too large and overwhelming for a farm kid. Northwood valued individual freedom and individual responsibility and emphasized promoting and leveraging the global, diverse and multi-cultural nature of entrepreneurial enterprises. Although it was very costly to attend Northwood, my work on the farm allowed me to amass a very sizeable nest egg for an 18-year-old. Further, Northwood helped me to obtain scholarship funds (contingent upon academic performance) and financial aid in order to make it feasible. I also obtained a work-study position at the school library to earn extra funds, and most weekends I would commute back home in order to put in some hours on the farm.

During my junior and senior years, I was an intern in the tax department at the Midland office of Deloitte & Touche. I would generally complete my class schedule by noon, and then head to the Deloitte office to work during the afternoons. During tax season, I also worked weekends.

After college graduation, I was fortunate to have offers from several accounting firms, but wanted to continue with Deloitte & Touche tax group in Grand Rapids. I passed the CPA exam and obtained a Masters of Taxation degree at Grand Valley State University. I worked at Deloitte & Touche until I joined David Korte’s firm in 2008.

My wife Stephanie and I met on a blind date in 2001 and were married on July 24th of 2004. Two years later we welcomed our first daughter, Eva. We now have a son Leo, another daughter Audrey, and another son, Henrik. 

My Expertise

From 1997 to 2008, I practiced as a tax professional at Deloitte & Touche in the Midland and Grand Rapids offices where I was exposed to several areas of tax. My primary focus was on serving high net-worth individuals, family offices, and closely held businesses throughout the country. I also served as a lead engagement professional on multiple compliance and consulting engagements involving multi-tier partnership/LLC flow-through structures and was responsible for annual tax compliance of clients with closely held businesses, high net-worth individuals, and exempt-organizations.

I first met David Korte professionally through a mutual client and recognized that we both had similar client bases and skill sets. As Dave’s practice continued to develop and grow, Dave asked me to join his firm. I was very intrigued by the prospect of working with Dave because I could see that Dave was more than just an accountant to his clients. He was also a trusted advisor with deep relationships with several prominent families and individuals. I was also attracted to the opportunity to become a partner in the practice and the entrepreneurial experience of running a business. It was extremely difficult for me to leave Deloitte after more than 10 years, but in late 2008, I took a bit of a leap of faith and joined Dave’s practice. At the beginning of 2013, I became a partner in Korte & Kowatch.

I am a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants. My community activities include serving as an officer of the boards of Racing Awareness and The West Michigan Estate Planning Council as well as Treasurer of St. Matthew Lutheran Church.


Denice D. Pavey, CPA

My father worked long hours to provide for the family, and at the age of 12, I started working at his store as a cashier for 50 cents an hour.”

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My Story

I was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, the oldest of four children. My father was a pharmacist, and my mother worked for General Motors as a secretary until I was born at which time she became a stay-at-home mom. When I was seven, we moved to Harrisville, Michigan where my parents purchased their own pharmacy and gift store. Harrisville is a small tourist town — population of just 500 — between Tawas and Alpena on Lake Huron. My father worked long hours to provide for the family, and at the age of 12, I started working at his store as a cashier for 50 cents an hour. I worked for him all through high school while juggling sports, taking advanced math classes and remaining on the honor roll. I just loved math, so I knew I wanted a career related to business and computers.

I attended Michigan State University where I met my husband the first day (six years later to that day we were married). During the summers, I helped out at my father’s store and also worked at the town’s boat harbor. Growing up in this environment taught me that customer service is very important. We needed these customers to come back year after year so that we were able to survive the winters. I also learned how important giving back was by watching how my parents tirelessly gave back to the community; in fact, my father is still in charge of putting on the 4th of July fireworks show.

After graduating from MSU, I moved to Grand Rapids where I started out in the tax department at BDO Seidman. I was then hired by BISSELL Inc. where I worked in their corporate offices for the health care division and also prepared the BISSELL Inc. consolidated tax returns.

On December 31st, 1995 I had my first son and soon realized that I too wanted to stay home with my children as my mother did. However, when next January rolled around, I found myself anxiously awaiting the opportunity to work another tax season! Over the next twelve years, I had another son and two daughters while working during the busy tax season only during evenings and weekends so I could be home with my four kids. I chose to homeschool my children until my youngest was old enough for kindergarten at which time I returned to work full time.

My husband Geoff works as a senior principal engineer at Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging and is a well known expert in the medical packaging industry. We are proud parents of Alex, Thomas, Katie and Mary.

  • Alex is an Eagle Scout and works as a lifeguard at the local YMCA. He is an honor roll student at Catholic Central High School and plays three seasons of sports. He is graduating in 2014.
  • Thomas is also an Eagle Scout and an honor roll student at Catholic Central High School while playing three seasons of sports. He will graduate in 2016.
  • Katie has a passion for volleyball but also plays soccer and basketball. She is an honor roll student at St. Paul the Apostle School.
  • Mary enjoys soccer, basketball, volleyball. She too is an honor roll student at St. Paul the Apostle School.

We reside in Cascade Township.

My Expertise

After graduating from Michigan State University, I moved to Grand Rapids where I started out in the tax department at BDO Seidman. I was then hired by BISSELL Inc. where I worked in their corporate offices for the health care division and also prepared the BISSELL Inc. consolidated tax returns.

After starting a family, I realized that I missed tax season, so I returned to work, first at BDO Seidman, and later at EHTC. I focused on preparing and reviewing individual tax returns during evenings and weekends. After my youngest child was old enough for kindergarten, I resumed working full time at EHTC. While there, not only was I in charge of training interns, but I was also in charge of individual income tax returns and created processes that made the firm more efficient and paperless. In addition, I worked with EHTC’s technology department to write a tax workflow process that functioned in the Microsoft CRM platform. Last, I continued to volunteer my accounting and computer skills for various local organizations.

In 2009, Dave Korte hired me to be part of his firm. What intrigued me about wanting to be a part of this firm was the level of personal service Dave offered to his clients. Since strong customer service was such a great part of my up-bringing, it was important to me that I was part of a small firm that delivered the high quality and expertise of a larger firm along with personal tailored service. By far, it has been the most enjoyable place to work because Dave and Phil not only treat their clients well, but also their employees.

 


Julie M. Freiberg

“I joined Korte Consulting in 2006 with 10 years of public accounting administrative experience at Plante & Moran’s Gaylord and Grand Rapids offices.”

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My Story

I joined Korte Consulting in 2006 with 10 years of public accounting administrative experience at Plante & Moran’s Gaylord and Grand Rapids offices. Prior to joining Plante & Moran, I worked in the cosmetology field.

My responsibilities include administrative support to the office, bookkeeping, processing tax returns, and all other miscellaneous administrative tasks.

I grew up in the Grand Rapids area and lived in Gaylord Michigan for six years. I now live in Grand Rapids with my two children and enjoy spending time outdoors with friends and family, camping and traveling to the Upper Peninsula. I give back to my children’s school by serving as the volunteer coordinator for the Parent Teacher Organization and volunteering in my children’s classrooms.

 


Mary M. Templeton, CPA

“Korte & Kowatch’s niche client base has provided me with challenging work while still allowing me flexibility for my family with young kids.”

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My Story

In 2006, I started my career in public accounting with Deloitte Tax LLP in their Grand Rapids, Michigan office. While at Deloitte, I provided tax compliance and consulting services to a variety of clients, including high net-worth individuals and closely-held businesses. In 2009, I left Deloitte and joined BDO USA LLP as a tax senior associate.  At BDO, I focused on tax compliance and consulting services for corporations and closely-held businesses, many with multi-state activity. I maintained a flexible work arrangement after the birth of my daughter, but enjoyed participating in recruiting, community service, mentoring and training when I could.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with exceptional people, both tax professionals and clients at Deloitte and BDO.  I’ve valued those relationships and kept in touch with many of my former colleagues, one of which was Phil Kowatch.  I had the privilege of working with Phil at Deloitte.  In 2012, I was excited about the opportunity to once again work for Phil by joining Korte & Kowatch.  Korte & Kowatch’s niche client base has provided me with challenging work while still allowing me flexibility for my family with young kids. It is a wonderful group of people in a wonderful working environment.

I graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Accounting in 2005. The following year, I completed my Masters of Science in Accounting with a specialization in taxation at Michigan State University. I am a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants as well the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants.

My husband Jeff and I are both from Stevensville, Michigan and were married in 2006. In 2009, we welcomed our daughter, Mia. In 2012, we were blessed by the birth of our son, Hans. Our family currently resides in Hudsonville, where, as members of Evergreen Ministries (CRC), I’ve been involved with a variety of children’s ministries and currently teach two- and three-year-olds.


Kathryn J. Engman

“I joined Korte & Kowatch in September of 2016 with 5 years of public accounting experience.”

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My Story

I joined Korte & Kowatch in September of 2016 with 5 years of public accounting experience. Prior to joining Korte & Kowatch, I worked at BDO USA, LLP as a member of the Private Client Services group, specializing in tax compliance and planning for high-net worth individuals and charitable organizations. I have extensive experience in income, trust, gift, and nonprofit taxation.

I earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and Business Economics from Grand Valley State University. I am pursuing my Master of Science in Accountancy with a specialization in taxation at Grand Valley State University as well as working towards my Certified Public Accountant license.

As an active member of the community, I have facilitated multiple community service and charity fundraising events for local organizations, including the West Michigan Humane Society, Special Olympics of Michigan, and Junior Achievement of Michigan.


15 Ionia Avenue SW, Suite 505
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
P 616.774.2727  I  F 616.776.2764

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