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Accountants One mourns loss amid deal boon

By: J. Scott Trubey

President of Accountants One, Dan Erling, sits down with Atlanta Business Chronicle Staff Writer, Scott Trubey, to share the impact of the recent lose of both his father and business partner, Bert Erling.

Friday, June 11, 2010-On the brink of a deal to more than double his company’s size, Dan Erling’s mind was not on the 40 employees he’d soon hire, but the one he’d lost the day before: his father.

Bert Erling, a founder of staffing firm Accountants One and the company’s chief financial officer, died of a massive heart attack May 2, eight days before his 67th birthday.

Accountants One had just inked a multiyear staffing deal with Gwinnett County, and the elder Erling was leading the company’s efforts to secure a credit line with a local lender. The day after his father died, Dan Erling was in a room of bankers he didn’t really know, and closing a line of credit for one of the biggest deals in his company’s history.

“What’s so complex is losing both your dad and your business partner,” the younger Erling said. “Nothing can prepare you for the loss of both.”

The Erlings had a succession plan in place, but the simple things like computer passwords at work and where certain personal information is stored at home became a logistical headache. Knowing where key information is — from wills to stock certificates — is vital and often forgotten, Dan Erling said.

“Somehow you manage because you have to,” he said. “We talked about transitioning, but I never expected to transition [when my father was] 67 and in a single day.”

But above all, the younger Erling said, he and his family, along with his employees, needed to grieve. Erling’s staff has made the difference in making a painful situation run more smoothly.

The Atlanta-based company is also preparing for its sixth annual Search for the South’s Funniest Accountant contest, which pits accountants or financial industry professionals against one another to see who’s the funniest. (The reporter for this story served as a judge in the event last year.)

The event last year raised $15,000 for Junior Achievement. It will be held Nov. 4 at CW Midtown’s Center Stage theater with a goal of raising $20,000 for the organization.

His father “had a great sense of humor, and he was extremely proud of [the show],” the younger Erling said. “This one’s for Bert.”

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