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ON THE LEVEL: Golden finds way to blend accounting, love of construction.

Byline: Chris Thompson

There was no guarantee Michael Golden would get a job the second time he decided he wanted to work for the family business.

It was 2010, and the rough U.S. economy was hurting the road-building industry. That meant his father's small water and sewer contractor, KM Golden Co. Inc., was struggling just like every other company that did roadwork.

"As a family business, they didn't know if it would work to bring me on," Golden said. "That was interesting."

Golden's first stint with the family business was simpler. His father had plenty of room for a 12-year-old on a summer day.

"He had me out painting fire hydrants in West Milwaukee when I was 12," said Golden, who grew up in Muskego.

That was Golden's first experience with construction, he said, and he never completely lost his taste for it. He kept working for his father's company every summer through high school and, when he turned 18, he stepped up to being a laborer.

But college was still part of the plan, so Golden moved on to the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

"I thought I wanted to be an engineer," he said, "because that's what everybody in my family did."

His father, his grandfather and all of his mother's siblings, he said, were engineers. But, he said, coursework wasn't necessarily his priority at MSOE.

"I knew I didn't enjoy school," Golden said. "I knew I liked hockey."

After a year of playing hockey at MSOE, he said, he realized engineering wasn't for him. Golden said that decision in itself didn't leave anyone his family feeling as if he had let them down.

"It was a little more disappointment," he said, "in me not knowing what I wanted to do at the time."

So he switched to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to study accounting and graduated in 2007. After some time spent coaching local high school hockey, Golden went to graduate school at UW-Whitewater and earned his master's degree.

He took a job at Wegner CPAs, Madison, and began preparing to take the CPA exam. The problem he sound found, though, was that his heart was still in construction, and Wegner wasn't doing much work with contractors.

After two years at Wegner, Golden made the leap back to the family business and, despite the poor state of the economy then, he got the job.

"I knew then that I wanted to be back in construction," he said, "however that looked."

He has been working at KM Golden since then as a construction manager, but accounting still plays a prominent role in his work. In 2012, he completed his CPA exam and started doing accounting on the side for the family company and other friends in the industry.

Then, in the fall, he decided to turn his side work in construction accounting into a full-time gig by opening Michael K. Golden CPA.

"It's a slow start," he said, "but word gets out fast."

He's specializes in helping small, independent contractors that might need help keeping their books in order. The big, regional accounting firms, he said, have construction departments that handle the tax needs for medium and large contractors.

But for tax work with small companies, Golden said, there isn't a lot of competition.

"They just put it off and don't do it until the IRS comes calling," he said. "That's about my only competition."

Golden has taken a long path to wind up where he started. Looking back, he can say he's glad to have found a way to combine accounting with an industry that drew him in right from the beginning.

"I liked every aspect of it," he said. "I just felt more at home in construction."

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The Daily Reporter: Which living person do you most admire?

Golden: My brother-in-law Matt DeSilva. He took the frustration of navigating his father's cancer treatment and lack of options and used it as motivation to develop new cancer treatments that have been profiled by the San Francisco Business Times and landed him on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. His company is called Notable Labs, in Foster City, Calif. He works incredibly hard in something that he believes in and is not only changing lives, but also saving them.

TDR: What other job(s) did you consider trying?

Golden: I briefly considered engineering and the banking industry but realized I enjoyed the nuances of accounting and, specifically, the construction niche.

TDR: What is your greatest fear?

Golden: My greatest fear is failure. I am always pushing myself to further my practice and knowledge in my field. I want to be the best, so the opposite is pretty scary to me. Snakes are a close second.

TDR: What is your greatest extravagance?

Golden: My greatest extravagance is golfing. Right now, I have 6 children, 11 years and younger, so getting away for long periods of time is definitely something I don't take for granted. I really enjoy the game and the relationships I've made on the course.

TDR: What would you never wear?

Golden: I would never wear a sweater vest, only because my father has that market cornered.

TDR: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Golden: I sometimes set extremely high goals for myself that are nearly impossible to achieve. I push myself hard and expect to attain them every time. I feel defeated when I can't accomplish them.

TDR: What would your colleagues be surprised to find out about you?

Golden: I played pro roller hockey and NCAA ice hockey in college. I've got the scars and fake teeth to prove it.

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Publication:The Daily Reporter
Date:Feb 14, 2019
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