Accountable/Tax Man Receives Good Returns by Following the One

by Nathan Oravec

For weeks now, accountant James Crane and his friends, Juan and Linda Roman, of Tax Prep & Associates, Inc., have been taking turns traveling from their home-base in Torrington, Connecticut to Hagerstown, Maryland, where they recently launched their newest office at 300 Cameo Drive, just off Eastern Boulevard. It’s a trick, for sure, making certain that someone is consistently present at both offices; working a steady five and a half days per week - eight in the morning until eight at night - followed with a near six hour Sunday commute to open the doors for business in Washington County. But Crane is confident in his team’s abilities, and what’s more, counts himself in very good hands. “I just pray,” he says. “The Lord does the work.”

“I enjoy the job and love the people,” Crane says of his 39-years experience in tax preparation and accounting, during which time he worked for several large corporations of considerable heft. Following his tenure in the service, leaving the Air Force in 1966, Crane worked for a time with the Hartford Insurance Company (now ITT) as a Financial Analyst. From there, he would receive a high-ranking position at the Atrax Research and Development Company. In 1978, when Atrax decided to relocate from Pennsylvania to Alabama, he was one of five professionals chosen to tag along. “After three years or so,” he notes, “the company started having some difficulty. It was sold two or three times. [It was then] that I decided to open my own Tax Preparation business.”

He did so - in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, Alabama - where he garnered in excess of four hundred clients in ten years. At that time, Crane and his wife, Margaret, originally from Connecticut and missing their family, decided to return home. There he started the Torrington practice, where he has continued to serve a roster of 250 patrons to this day.

Crane will turn 60 this June, and while not considering completely retiring at 65, a few months back he began thinking about the future, about working on more of a fixed income, and about heading south. With property taxes on the rise in Connecticut, the Crane’s moved to the Spring Mills Area of West Virginia, and soon the search for a new locale for his company began throughout the Tri-State - and ended in Hagerstown. “The people seem to be really friendly here,” he beams. “Your neighbors will come out and talk to you and say hello. It seems like a nice, Christian atmosphere.”

Couple Juan and Linda Roman, Crane’s devoted and hard-working partners, have made the move possible, he explains. Connecticut clients of his for nearly 15 years, the duo became trusted friends and teammates that “someday,” he says, “when I decide to retire, will probably take over the business.”

Linda, he explains, comes from a well-diversified background in accounting and bookkeeping, as well as real estate. “She’s also great with sales.” She and Crane handle the business’ more advanced services, both accountants being annually certified with the National Center for Professional Education (NCPE), remaining up-to-date on current tax laws, rules and regulations.

Linda’s husband, Juan, retired from police work at the age of 42, desiring a career change and having some experience in financial planning, began to work for Tax Prep, as well. Efficient with most of the simpler taxes and learning more with each day on the job, Juan also provides an invaluable service to the company as its Spanish Interpreter. Throughout the years, Crane notes that he has had several clients who speak Spanish. With Juan on board, a language-barrier that once may have proved a hindrance has been eliminated as Tax Prep & Associates is proud to announce “Se Habla Español.”

Every Sunday, each of the three members of Tax Prep take turns traveling to and from Connecticut to Hagerstown, covering both offices at all times. As tax season dwindles, as business slows, so will the harrowing weekly jaunts. “It will probably be two weeks there, two weeks here,” says Crane.

In the thick of tax season, however, Tax Prep & Associates is ready, willing and able to serve its new Hagerstown customers. The business covers all phases and aspects of accounting including income tax preparation for individuals, partnerships, LLCs, and corporations; financial and estate planning; monthlies, quarterlies and all taxes for payrolls; and bookkeeping services.

“I’ve had a tremendous background in this business,” says Crane, “which I can now apply to the little guy. And my customers are ecstatic.”

“I talk to my people,” he continues. “If they have any questions, I answer them. I figure if they’re going to be signing something, they should understand what it is. Many accountants don’t do that.”

If it sounds like a simple business practice, maybe that’s because you’ve heard it before. Something along the lines of The Golden Rule.

“I really didn’t know what saved was until I married my wife. We’ve been married 39 years now. We belong to the choir at church, and we have a very deep faith in God.”

“When I came back from Connecticut, when I was 46 years old, I lost my voice. I couldn’t figure out why. It turned out to be arthritis of the larynx. I went in for surgery three times. The third time, I went to Virginia to receive laser surgery. I died on the operating table. I remember going up - toward the tunnel and the light - and I remember saying to the Lord, ‘Lord, I can’t die. My wife’s not well, and I have to take care of her.’”

After Crane was revived, he received a new nickname throughout the hospital - “miracle guy.”

Today, he has his voice, and with it, professes Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

“He has blessed me abundantly,” says Crane. “I’m just thankful to be here. I’m a happy guy.”

Years ago, as he was praying upon it, Crane says, the Lord told him to give all ministers a 10 percent discount on their tax preparations. Later, he was told to give those 65 and older ten percent as well. It is a practice he continues to this day.

“Of course,” he adds, “I pray for all of my clients, too. But they get that for free.”

Hours for Tax Prep & Associates, Inc., 300 Cameo Drive in Hagerstown, MD (off of Eastern Boulevard), are weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 301-714-1370 or toll-free at 1-888-317-2004.