Dahl, Hatton, Muir & Reese, LTD, Hallock, Minn., has been the local accounting firm since 1978 and includes (l-r) Mark Hatton, Angie Sobolik, Barb Costin, Jeff Reese, and Janelle Lindegard (not pictured).
By Linda Andersen
Between the two of them, local accountants Jeff Reese and Mark Hattton bring more than 70 years of experience to their work at Dahl, Hatton, Muir and Reese LTD at 217 South Birch Avenue in Hallock.
Both men are certified public accountants. Reese was born and raised in Hallock, first attended college at Northland in Thief River Falls and then earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of North Dakota. He worked in a CPA firm in Thief River Falls for six years before coming to Hallock.
Hatton, who is originally from Bagley, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Bemidji State University. His work in Hallock has been his “first and only job in accounting.”
The accountants admit that owning a business in a small community can be difficult. Hatton points out that the population of Hallock has dropped from about 1400 when he first came to the community to just over 900 today. Still, they have experienced customer loyalty and say business has been very good.
According to Reese, people often “pay more attention to finances than their health” and “a trust (in the firm) has built up” over the years.
A particularly difficult time for the firm occurred when two partners, Conrad Dahl and Patricia Muir, passed away within a few years of each other. “You can’t replace that experience,” admits Reese.
As a result of the loss of partners, they closed their offices in Stephen and Argyle and consolidated all operations to Hallock.
A bit more history of the firm includes the following: In 1955, an accounting business, Holcomb, Knudson and Company, originated. It became a regional firm with 10 offices, including ones in Alexandria and Devil’s Lake. In 1978, they started a branch in Hallock. Conrad Dahl, who had been a partner in the firm, became the sole owner in 1986. Hatton has been with the firm since 1981, Reese since 1983. In 1993, Dahl, Hatton, Muir, and Reese formed a partnership.
What financial advice would the experienced accountants like to share with people? “Handle consumer debt responsibly. Start your retirement plans early. Even if you think you can’t put money aside, do it,” advises Reese.
“If you can afford a cup of coffee at Starbucks, you can afford to put money away for retirement,” adds Hatton.
Reese also advises asking questions about how a transaction will affect taxes before the transaction is completed. “Better to ask first – you can’t unring the bell sometimes.”
Though the men say the firm mostly deals with income tax work, they offer numerous other services. A look at the firm’s website, www.dhmrcpa.com, reveals many services – tax management, compilations, QuickBooks accounting help and assistance, entity selection and restructuring, payroll services, accounting services, estate & trust planning, bookkeeping, IRS representation and social security consulting.
Both Hatton and Reese find enjoyment in their work and say their coworkers and clients help make the job enjoyable. “I like accounting. I like the people I work with. We have a nice little office here,” says Hatton.
“I like working with clients…explaining the end result…help clients muddle through the tax situation they have…I can’t imagine doing this in a larger city where you don’t know people you’re sitting across from,” says Reese.
Hatton and Reese are assisted in their work by several employees. Executive Administrative Assistant Barb Costin has been with the firm for 24 years. Staff Accountant Janelle Lindegard has worked with them for 11 years. Staff Accountant Angie Sobolik has been with them for four years. During the tax season, Vickie Dahl, who was married to the late Conrad Dahl, helps out.
On a personal note, both Reese and Hatton have families and seem eager to share about them. “I’ve been married to Laura for 10 years on Friday,” says Reese, noting that Laura teaches science in Lancaster. They have a daughter and three-year old grandson. “I built my house on the lot I grew up on,” notes Reese.
Hatton’s first wife, Jo Ann, died of cancer in 1999. He later married Debra. They have a blended family of six children. “We’ve had a really good blending,” Hatton comments, adding “Kids have been good – I wouldn’t want to live without them.” He says he and Deb are “on the road quite a bit” visiting children and the three grandchildren who have been born into the family in recent years.
Both men say they would like to continue in their current work as long as they can, though they would like to have some younger people take over in the next 10 to 15 years.
“We thank the community for their support and loyalty over the years,” concludes Hatton.
“Without them we’re not here,” agrees Reese.