Apple Growth Partners

Apple Growth Partners Recognizes Seven Employees with Annual Awards

AKRON, OH – (November 8, 2021) – Apple Growth Partners (AGP), award-winning accounting and business advisory firm, recognized seven employees last month during the firm’s virtual staff meeting with awards based on leadership, accountability, service, and innovation.

Dmitriy Berkovich, CPA, received the Shared Values award. As the longest-running employee recognition program in the firm’s history, the Shared Values award commemorates an employee’s dedication to their work and team members while demonstrating its core values. Berkovich, a principal in the tax department, was recognized for his vast knowledge of complex tax issues and willingness to help fellow employees and clients identify and implement solutions. His ability to recognize a team of professionals to tackle and solve problems, along with his warm and approachable personality, result in admiration among his peers.

Ian Mansfield was named the third recipient of the Dave Gaino Innovation award. Named for chairman emeritus Dave Gaino, the award celebrates an employee’s innovative approach to problem-solving and collaboration to help reach the firm’s 10-year growth plan. Mansfield, a senior associate, was recognized for several projects in the last year, including an interactive cash management tool to help clients improve cash flow of their business and designing a break-even analysis model for companies to outline future scenarios effectively. Departments often seek out Mansfield for his expertise in designing and executing interactive and innovative tools.

Jennifer DiFranco, PHR, SHRM-CP, received the firm’s first Accountability award, designed to celebrate an employee’s commitment to their behavior, interactions, and impact on others in the workplace. DiFranco, senior director of talent, demonstrates upmost accountability, and embraces a cultural approach of ownership across the firm. DiFranco displays intentional leadership, care, and communication as head of the human resources team and as a member of several cross-functional project teams. DiFranco was celebrated for always listening to new ideas and projects and enabling a culture of feedback and collaboration across professionals.

Brittany Williams received the firm’s first Collaboration award, an honor intended to recognize consistent cross-functional teamwork. As senior director of the firm’s project management office, Williams is superior with including the right team members to be involved for projects across multiple touchpoints within the firm. Consistently seeking input from others, Williams regularly identifies missing department or staff level representation in teams and will ensure involvement to make progress toward the firm’s strategic plan.

Leif Erickson, CPA, was named the first recipient of the firm’s Leadership award. As director of the tax department, Erickson consistently demonstrates intentional leadership through direct communication, follow-through, and a positive attitude towards change and obstacles. Erickson completed a smooth transition of department leadership in 2020 and actively mentors members of the tax team to achieve their goals.

Kathy Davis and Robert Jackson, CPA, were jointly named to the Service award, as both led the efforts of the firm’s COVID-19 Response Team beginning in 2020. Together, Davis and Jackson serviced internal and external clients, leading the firm’s professionals in the latest developments in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) regulation and forgiveness, navigating through the CARES Act, and highlighting fundamental changes and potential implications for clients across the firm. Davis and Jackson both participated in multiple webinars throughout 2020 for clients and community members, keeping up to date on the latest developments for business owners and nonprofits. Named as internal subject matter experts on the PPP, the team relied on their expertise to help clients through the last 18 months.

Delivering the news of the selected recipients was chairman Chuck Mullen and managing principal Randy Misch, providing one of the highlights of the virtual retreat.

“It was my utmost honor to recognize these seven employees with our firm’s awards,” comments Mullen. “They demonstrate the phrase ‘above and beyond’ consistently, making our firm stronger every day.”

President Erica Ishida agrees.

“Our firm is rooted in our people and taking care of each other. These seven professionals show up in their best self every day, and we are all the better because of their dedication,” says Ishida.

About Apple Growth Partners

Apple Growth Partners (AGP) is an award-winning accounting and business advisory firm with more than 77 years of creative solutions that deliver healthy, sustainable growth. AGP offers a full range of services for privately held businesses, including tax planning and compliance, audit and assurance, business valuation, litigation consulting, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), fraud prevention and detection, family office services for High-Net-Worth individuals, and transaction advisory. With more than 100 employees, AGP collaborates with business owners and partners across Ohio and beyond, extending client services through a remote workforce in 2020 while maintaining office locations in Akron, Canton, Chicago, and Cleveland. AGP’s professionals provide expertise in additional industries and services, such as employee benefit plans, bookkeeping, auto dealerships, manufacturing, construction and real estate, and Black-owned businesses. AGP’s mission statement is championing the Healthy Growth® of our people, our clients, and our communities through authenticity, world-class service, and taking care of each other.


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