BDO Alliance USA Member Spotlight – Josh Tyree

BDO Alliance USA is among the industry’s largest associations of accounting and professional services firms in more than 800 locations nationwide. In this series, we introduce you to Alliance Member leaders who are making a difference in their firms.

Meet Josh Tyree, Chief Executive Officer of Harris CPAs

Headquartered in Meridian, Idaho with additional offices throughout the state, Harris CPAs has been an independent member of the BDO Alliance USA since 2014. They have repeatedly been recognized as a Best Places to Work in Idaho business. They encourage their employees to volunteer in the community and are annual supporters of the Idaho Nonprofit Center, while also contributing accounting services to in-need nonprofit organizations through their Community Partnership Award program. Harris CPAs believes people are their best asset, and are committed to building open, collaborative connections with clients and colleagues so they feel empowered to ask questions and solve issues as they arise.

Tell us more about Harris CPAs and what makes your firm stand out.

We thrive on Community + Firm. Harris is not just a place to work. We have five core values and consistently strive to find ways to be able to follow those values and make them even better. We have a robust training program and, annually, get together firmwide to discuss our values, including what’s working and what isn’t. We always walk away from the event feeling more empowered that our firm culture is headed in the right direction. On January 1, 2023, we started a program called the 50-hour rule, where no one in the firm works more than 50 hours per week. In fact, we spent all of 2022 doing various trainings and looking at our firm processes to prepare us for this goal.

When you ask what makes us stand out from the rest, I think about my experiences at meetings or conferences where some big players in our industry are discussing new initiatives or programs that they are working on, and I am reminded that we are already doing many of them. We have been involved in various leadership and growth programs over the years and have used the principles learned there to become a firm of high performance that proactively plans for tomorrow. Our entire firm gets involved in these initiatives, which really makes it fun.

How did you decide to pursue a career in accounting? 

I took a year off after high school, which really gave me time to think about what I wanted to pursue in college. I actually became an economics major with an emphasis in accounting. I was hired by CBIZ right out of college, and they gave me the opportunity to work in tax, audit and litigation services. They didn’t make me choose just one. In fact, that is something we strive to do at Harris; when we hire someone new, we make it mandatory for them to work in each department for at least four months, so they can be exposed to different areas and services and decide what they like to do best.

I came to Harris in 2008 when there were two partners and about 15 employees. Today, we have 17 partners and over 100 employees. It was a firm effort to help retire our founding partner, as we wanted to give him the credit that he deserved and be able to transition clients the best way we knew how. Because of our one-firm mentality, we have been able to grow and open new offices throughout Idaho.   

Did you grow up in the Boise area? 

Yes, I’ve lived here almost my entire life. I left to attend college in Santa Barbara, Calif. and after graduation lived in the Los Angeles area for eight years. But after meeting my wife in college, we decided to move back to Boise to start our family.

Give us a glimpse into what community involvement means at Harris CPAs.

Our focus on community involvement is one of the most important values we have. It is employee driven, so there’s always an opportunity for someone’s favorite charity to be highlighted for participation or support. We also have industry group volunteering, to get our folks involved in some of the key industries where we serve clients. Our “Ladies of Harris” professional development group selects one nonprofit each year where they host a firmwide volunteer opportunity, and each of our offices also lead a charitable drive around the holidays. 

One of our biggest efforts to-date to support our community, and something I am very proud of, is the Harris Center of Influence. We heard about the need for office/meeting space in downtown Boise, so five years ago we opened a community platform that provides space for staff to work remotely and provides a training room and board room for the community to use free of charge. We’ve had over 100 businesses and nonprofits use the space which, in turn, helps our community. 

Do you still have a heavy involvement in serving clients, or do you devote most of your time to managing the firm?

 I manage approximately $1 million in my book of business and have approximately 700 billable hours. My goal used to be $500,000 and 400 hours, but with new clients and our current economy, there just seems to be a lot going on. Also, in 2023, we as a firm moved away from charge hour goals as we want to continue focusing more on our clients, projects and business. Annually, our firm has a client inventory process, where we try to transition work to the up-and-coming staff. We also review our clients to make sure they are meeting the metrics and values that Harris CPAs stands for.

Your personal bio indicates you’ve been working since the fifth grade. Tell us about that.

Both my parents were educators and I always remember them working very hard. In fact, they often had second jobs and were extremely involved in the community. I had a paper route from the fifth grade until I graduated from high school. My parents would never let me quit anything I started! I also began a lawn mowing business in middle school that I was able to sell before I left for college.

If you could go back, what advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

Be more selective on which clients you say ‘yes’ to. When I first started out, I’d say yes to any business or project. There were some that I should never have said yes to, and I paid for it later. You will save so much time if you only take the clients you truly want to work with, from the beginning.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I have two boys, ages 9 and 12, for whom I coach club basketball. That runs from November 1 to March 1. It’s A LOT, but we are a very sports driven family, and my boys play multiple sports like I did. Living in Boise, you of course have to ski, and I am also considered a “River Rat”, as I enjoy rafting on the many rivers in our area. The longest I have gone on a river trip is 14 days, but the 3 to 7-day trips are more common. You need a permit to go on a trip and they are hard to get, but every year I seem to find a group that needs someone to row them down the river. It is great to connect with nature and get your adrenaline rush at the same time.  

I also love to golf. I live in an area where the course is right in my neighborhood. I bought a used golf cart on April 16th last year (CPAs will understand the significance there!); in hindsight, maybe not the best decision, but it has been fun spending time with the kids going back and forth to the pool or the golf course. The club is very family-oriented, so it’s been great for us.

What’s on your bucket list?

To float the Grand Canyon. It is a 21-day trip, so definitely something to plan for. Also, my wife and I have always wanted to visit all the National Parks.

What would you like to share about your experience with the BDO Alliance USA?

We have been a member of the BDO Alliance USA for nine years, and it has been the best experience.  We wouldn’t change anything.  We especially appreciate the help/technical desks and are heavily involved with all the resources the BRN program offers too. We actually utilize our membership to help with our recruiting efforts, as another differentiator, to show how many resources we have available.  

We love attending the Alliance Conference each year as well. In fact, we will be sending approximately 20 employees in 2023.  Each year we attend, we make it a point to assign each member of our team to a specific BRN firm to get to know them better. It is their job to learn everything about what they do and develop a relationship that can further benefit the firm overall.  I also partake in the Managing Partner Roundtables, which I truly enjoy.

We were part of other associations in the past, and I can honestly say that the BDO Alliance has far surpassed them all!

Professional headshot of Josh Tyree