By Abigail Stokes Palsma
“Enjoy what you’re doing. Have fun.
If you’re not enjoying it, it’s not going to work for anyone.
Do a lot more listening than talking.
Learn and keep learning.”
After 54 years with Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman, Royce A. Stutzman, CPA/ABV, CVA, retires leaving these words of advice for those who will carry on his work. While there are perhaps many ways to describe his legacy, Vicenti celebrates the culture of respect and trust that he forged with lasting effect among his coworkers, his clients, his family, and his friends.
Stutzman joined the firm in 1962, after working in the business office at the University of La Verne for three years as a student and three years as an alumnus. He had passed the CPA exam, and though he loved working in a college environment, he needed public accounting experience in order to be licensed. Richard H. Vicenti & Company was an attractive alternative to the larger LA firms that required a long commute. The small firm had just moved to the only commercial building on Foothill Boulevard in La Verne, the surrounding orange groves creating a more familiar back drop for the Michigan-born farm boy.
Stutzman was the fourth employee of the firm, which expanded exponentially along with the community from that point forward. After merely four years of working at Vicenti, he became a partner and the firm was re-named Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman. As partner, Stutzman grew and developed the firm while continuing to provide thorough and tailored service to his clients. In 1975, he was named managing partner.
Stutzman determined that his mission in life was to make a positive difference, but he asserts that the people who really make a difference in an organization are the ones on the line—the ones answering the phone and working directly with the clients. He set about adjusting the culture of the firm to create a collaborative work environment, believing that this would be the best for the employees and for the firm’s clients. “It was a gradual movement toward involving people in the governance structure,” Stutzman said. “We needed to get people to talk, to tell us how they felt.”
Stutzman invested in a consultant from Stephen Covey’s organization, and the firm continues to use Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as a framework for creating a business environment that acknowledges the whole self and seeks to empower the highest and best versions of partners and employees. He also joined a fraternity of CEOs called TEC, now known as Vistage. This forum provided an opportunity to learn and grow among some of the best local business leaders.
Speaking of firm founder Dick Vicenti, Stutzman said, “He taught me never to stop asking questions. When you think you know the answer, that’s when you get into trouble. I learned to keep an inquisitive mind, and to work with my colleagues to make sure we had all the questions—not just all the answers.”
Co-founder Juanice Lloyd taught Stutzman how to “work a room,” how to network, and how to not be afraid to talk to people. “All three of us were active in the community,” Stutzman said. “We strongly believed that if you take from the community, you need to give back to the community.” Building on what Lloyd taught him, Stutzman was active in the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce for several cities including the Pomona Junior Chamber of Commerce, the LeRoy Haynes Center, and the YMCA. He has served on many non-profit boards, advisory boards, and the boards of publicly traded companies as well as professional organizations. “The mission to make a difference in our community that we started 30 or 40 years ago has perpetuated in the firm and is executed better now than ever, all accolades to the partners,” Stutzman said.
Though he continued as an active member of the firm, Stutzman left the partnership formally in the 1990’s and became Chairman of Vicenti, Lloyd & Stutzman in 1994. Around this same time, he found that many of his clients were in need of business valuation services. Never wanting to miss an opportunity to better serve his clients and community, Stutzman became a Certified Valuation Analyst in 1995 and Accredited in Business Valuation shortly thereafter. For the last several years, Stutzman has served as Partner Emeritus and has continued to provide business valuation services to his clients.
In September 2015, Stutzman was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the California Society of CPAs (CalCPA). This notable award honors CPAs who have made an extraordinary contribution to the profession, to CalCPA, and to the community. Stutzman was presented with the award at an event held for attorneys, bankers, CPAs, and other professionals by the Inland Empire Chapter of CalCPA.
The Inland Empire knows Royce Stutzman to be a dedicated community member. Clients see him as their highly-esteemed trusted advisor who helped them navigate through myriad business issues. The partners and employees of Vicenti, Lloyd and Stutzman know him to be a thoughtful mentor, who laid a solid foundation from which we will carry on his legacy to make a positive difference for our clients, for each other, and for the world around us.
Congratulations, Royce, on a lively, effective, and meaningful career.