MSI General is a $40-million-plus design/build firm located in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Throughout the company’s 50-year history, it has earned an excellent reputation for quality work, exceeding customer expectations, and community support.
In 2004, this family-owned business underwent some big structural changes when it hired a board of directors. According to Dirk Debbink, son of one of the company’s original founders, this new board is very engaged.
As board chairman, Dirk was continually challenged by the Board asking, "Who are our business partners, and do they think strategically about our business or do they treat us as just another customer?"
Based on the answer to this question, in 2006 it became clear they needed a new accounting firm as a business partner. “We only have one accounting relationship, so it should be strategic,” Dirk explains. “It has to be chosen so that it’s the right match and mutually beneficial.”
Another criterion the new firm had to meet was success in their own business, and Dirk says he recognized that in John Schwab (relationship executive) and in Wipfli. “When I was researching Wipfli and asked about them with multiple attorneys and bankers in the business community, I received absolutely positive comments and glowing reports. This third-party endorsement was important to me,” Dirk says.
In addition to strategic thinking and a strong reputation, Dirk says construction and real estate industry expertise was an additional quality Wipfli brought to the relationship. “They work with the developers, many of which are our customers,” says Dirk. “Wipfli has helped me cement relationships with our existing customers by reinforcing with them the value MSI General can bring.”
According to Dirk, additional characteristics of MSI General’s strategic partners include an eagerness to meet and take time for each other and being a person you can trust and have a confidential conversation with. Wipfli recently exemplified this, as well. “We just completed a major corporate move when we hired a president for MSI General,” explains Dirk. “John was really my trusted advisor in this process, helping me develop the criteria I had for this important position.”
So has Wipfli lived up to the high expectations the MSI General Board set forth? Dirk gives a resounding, "Yes!"
“Wipfli thinks strategically and puts the health and well-being of MSI General first. They truly understand my business; not only addressing our needs, but identifying opportunities, as well,” says Dirk. “It’s been fun to watch John and his team actualize on everything we discuss in our quarterly brainstorming sessions. Wipfli keeps the drum beat going.”