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Home Grown

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it?

Robin Lubbers: We do monthly bookkeeping for local businesses. We also do payroll, QuickBooks support and classes. We've been at this since 1994.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley?

Dean (Lubbers) has lived here his entire life and attended Phoenix High School. I moved here when I was 18 and then moved to Seattle and came back in 1984.

What inspired you to go into this line of work?

I'm really good at math. My first occupation was in a restaurant and when I managed a restaurant in Seattle I needed to know about bookkeeping. I was 28 or 29 when I went back to school to Trend Business College and got an accounting degree so that I would know how to manage finances better for the restaurant.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again?

I wish I had my own building. I'm really conservative so I grew slowly. That's a key to anyone growing — timing and cash flow — it's a problem everyone has. Most businesses don't have the cash flow to grow really fast; I was just strong and steady.

What's the toughest business decision you've made?

Taking on employees, mostly for fear of not having enough cash flow to keep them on, the responsibility of making sure they had household income and of course of having employees that were reliable. We are a service-oriented business and making sure that I have employees with high integrity and that represent us well.

Who are your competitors?

We are unique in what we do. No one else in the valley does exactly what we do. Our scope and range of services are from once-a-year auditing of someone doing their own bookkeeping, to make sure they're in order to do tax returns, down to paying household bills along with a client's business bills. We can take care of all of their financial statements. We do not do tax returns; we're strictly a bookkeeping service though, helping someone who does their own, guiding, supporting and teaching.

What are your goals?

My goal is to have probably 10 employees that are highly skilled. QuickBooks is the small business accounting system that 90 percent of the people out there use. I'm advanced certified and we have two employees that are regularly certified to where people can go to them to learn how to use QuickBooks. I want to have enough staff so that no matter who (clients) talk to they are going to get the answers they need. From my perspective, however, what works best for the customer is best, because their business is our business and that's how we help them financially. We're still in the same commercial complex we've always been although we've moved within the site. I have talked to a colleague in Bend who would like for me to go over there, but I don't want to be so big that our quality goes down. At any given point, if I feel like our quality is going down, I say we're not taking on any more clients. If we get too busy then the quality of work isn't there.

What training or education did you need?

I'm an advanced certified QuickBooks adviser, certified through Sleeter Group, an organization of QuickBooks consultants throughout the United States. I got my degree from Trend Business College in Medford.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Make sure they surround themselves with people that have the best knowledge so they are not trying to do every aspect of the business. The entrepreneurs should do what they do best and hire their supporting staff to do what they do best. Have a good attorney, a good accountant and a good bookkeeper. Don't try to wear every hat; wear the hat that fits. So many people try to run their business and then at 10 at night do their bookkeeping, that doesn't work. They don't have good financial (statements) every month and without good financials it's hard to make good decisions on what to do next.

To suggest an idea for this column, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com

Robin Lubbers, front, has grown her Paper Trail Bookkeeping business of Medford into a multiple-employee operation, including Will Brooks and Cory Oseth, among others. 1/11/08 Denise Baratta