The A Team Celebrates 20th Anniversary: Looking back on Two Decades of Teamwork
As it celebrates its 20thanniversary year – The A Team, a top NY based, national accounting outsourcing firm reflects on the moments and milestones that led them to be the firm of choice for America’s small businesses.
20 years ago, a young and eager New Yorker was at an impasse: continue to work at a “dream job” that offered little overall satisfaction or embark on an entrepreneurial adventure? He chose entrepreneurship and The A Team was born!
It was July of 2001 and New York was full of optimism. A subway ride was $1.50, the iPod had debuted – fast becoming a commuter favorite, and our beloved Twin Towers graced the skyline. The future was full of unknowns. Like with life itself, questions and curve balls abound in the lifespan of a small business; but if you’re paying attention, so does opportunity and growth.
In just 6 months, The A Team founder, visionary Tedd Drattell, hired a business coach, developed a business plan, and started hitting the pavement as a fractional CFO in search of his first client. After months of networking and putting his business plan into action, Tedd landed his first client. Today, The A Team supports over 150 different businesses, but that first client will always be a reminder of the importance of passion and persistence.
Reflecting on the decision to become a business owner, Drattell remarks, “I wasn’t afraid. I knew what my numbers were!” Today, as when he started, Tedd maintains this confidence knowing that his company provides similar financial clarity for his clients, through transparency in their numbers, which leads to business success.
At the time of incorporation, the goal was simply to help small businesses achieve clean, accurate books and efficient financial departments while also guiding them along the road to small business success.
“Back then, I saw a lot of small businesses making needless mistakes and struggling to stay on top of their accounting needs,” Tedd recalls. “QuickBooks was only just finding its footing, Excel was the dominant software, and the idea of outsourcing was an uncommon option. I knew there was a better way. Now, the hiring of remote personnel is dominating corporate culture!”
By 2004 The A Team had several team members and a great reputation in the outsourced accounting industry. The A Team set up shop in the Garment District in a 200 square foot space that had been newly retrofitted with (what was at the time) high-speed internet lines. The A Team used QuickBooks as well as a CRM program called ACT to help them streamline their accounting systems – soon realizing that the financial health of their business stretched far beyond just “the books”.
After 7 years in business, The A Team had grown to 8 employees. “We began our Technology Division, which offered custom-tailored automations and integrations, and we were giving our clients immediate insights through our seamless reporting systems,” Tedd shares. But in the wake of the 2008 housing collapse, The A Team witnessed numerous clients having to make hard decisions – choosing which personnel to keep, negotiating which resources to hold onto and trying to navigate through to a challenge-laden path to a healthy future.
During this phase, small businesses needed strategic talent, and The A Team was the perfect resource to vet and match such talent in the financial space. So began The A Team Recruiting division, which quickly became the resource of choice for full-time, part-time and virtual accounting candidates.
By 2010, The A Team had outgrown its humble roots and expanded into a new, spacious Midtown location. The new office atmosphere was one of excitement, opportunity and collaboration. That tone continues today, with all-staff training sessions every Tuesday, social “lunch and learns” every Friday, and numerous other gatherings and events designed to enhance team culture.
“I would say that 2015 was a pivotal year for us from a growth perspective,” Tedd explains. “The onboarding of Sage Intacct and other integration software was the path forward – and the right decision for our clients – in a radically advancing, tech-driven world. Technology was infiltrating the accounting space and we embraced the inevitable tech-led future.”
Just a year later, The A Team brought on partner Dominick Bencivenga: an experienced business owner, CFO and big-picture strategist with a sharp eye for detail. Clients’ needs for contingency planning, cash-flow insights, raising capital and strategic leadership all precipitated The A Team’s Fractional CFO division, which today offers big-picture planning and execution to a variety of Clients.
In 2018, The A Team began serving clients nationally – a trend which gradually grew – and then exploded during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. By carefully analyzing it’s “special sauce” of bringing personalized attention and high value to its Clients, The A Team was successful in growing its practice not just in the New York Metro area, but also nationwide – and even overseas.
Over the years The A Team has continued to grow its impressive team of accountants, controllers, bookkeepers, CFO’s and other financial, accounting and accounting technology professionals. Two-thirds of The A Team’s staff represent diverse segments of the population; Company Culture is paramount; and there is a defined pathway to growth within the company that enables and encourages employees to advance to higher levels of responsibility and skill.
Community action is another important part of The A Team’s mission. Since 2019, The A Team has sponsored annually the “True Grit Award” – a stipend given to 4 Baruch University undergraduate and graduate accounting students in the Fall and Spring semesters. These stipends are designed to reward those students that demonstrate “grit” in overcoming challenges in order to pursue their education. The A Team has also participated in assisting local and national charities including New York Cares and The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.
As he reflects on 20 years of teamwork, Drattell finds most rewarding the way his company has helped hundreds of new businesses thrive and grow to become strong and successful. Just 20 years ago, The A Team was itself a budding new business – full of enthusiasm for what could be and yet blissfully unaware of the many challenges, and great successes that would lie ahead.