When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the CARES Act threw a much-needed lifeline to small businesses, it piqued Eric Stenson’s interest.
His employer at the time was able to stay afloat thanks to a PPP (Payback Protection Program) loan under the CARES Act. As businesses and the finance world focused on the lending component, Stenson was fascinated by the long-term ramifications.
“It got me to look closely at the CARES Act. I was curious about what Congress was doing to help small businesses and thought it was amazing that Congress was moving so quickly to inject stimulus money into the economy,” Stenson said. “And a light bulb went out.”
This curiously culminated in Stenson Tamaddon, the Phoenix tech accounting firm created to help small and medium-sized businesses navigate the complicated process of securing the economic stimulus benefits available to them.
Stenson realized that the banks had their work cut out to secure these loans. But what then?
“Most were focusing on how to get the loan, but no one was thinking about canceling the loan. The big issue was going to be loan forgiveness,” Stenson said.
He approached his friend and business partner Aaron Tamaddon about software that would handle this. Equipped with proprietary software and a team with over 100 years of tax and regulatory expertise, Stenson and Tammaddon – along with their third business partner Ryan Louis – launched their business in 2020.
Payroll companies and CPAs turn to Stenson Tamaddon for help when filing their clients. Understanding legislative language and closely monitoring regulatory developments have made the company a go-to source. The team regularly consults with the Small Business Administration and similar agencies regarding advice and unique circumstances.
“We focus on compliance. It was the biggest gap we’ve seen in the market,” Stenson said.
They’re also helping business owners maximize their eligible funding through stimulus programs like the Employee Retention Credit, an incentive for employers to keep workers on the payroll during the pandemic. This program awards qualified companies up to $26,000 per employee.
Customer base spans hospitality, fitness studios, public and private healthcare facilities, law firms, retail and automotive industries.
Raj Patel, owner of Grand Canyon Hospitality, an Orange County hotel and restaurant company, is one of them.
Patel had received a PPP loan, but his accountant was unaware of the employee credit program. The search led him to Stenson Tamaddon.
“It’s a complicated process and he wasn’t equipped to deal with it. You can mess it up if it’s not done right,” Patel said.
The conference calls and communications between Patel and Stenson Tamadoon were transparent about the steps in the process and Patel was guided through the details and kept up to date.
Patel said the C employee retention program is critical to keeping his business alive and his 44 employees collecting paychecks. A skeptic by nature, Patel has faith in the company.
“Even my CPA friends don’t know the process. It requires a specialty,” Patel said. “They have the knowledge. Several companies say they do, but Stenson did it well in terms of execution.
Bureaucracy leads to Plan C. It works
When Stenson Tamaddon launched, they did so with a platform that they could license to bank and non-bank lenders to specifically handle PPP loan forgiveness.
“We were two guys and an office. And I’ve had CEOs of major publicly traded banks call me on my cell phone,” Stenson said.
But, they ran into a hiccup with the maze of administrative bureaucracy required at this high level of corporate operations. These lenders have suggested approaching other entities with less red tape, but these too have not been successful.
“Nobody wanted to do business with us,” Stenson said.
So they put Plan C into action. They started selling their software to accounting firms and these firms used it to generate loan cancellation requests. The company held webinars for CPA companies, convincing them of potential customer demand for the service.
It worked. Soon the company was making sales of $30,000 to $50,000 a month, Stenson said.
Then a private school in Connecticut contacted Stenson to purchase its software. But he took it a step further by doing a screen share and doing the process for the school. This, he said, allowed his company to look to a smaller market that wanted a professional to do it for them.
It was successful. Today, Stenson Tamaddon generates several million dollars in annual revenue, Stenson said.
“A lot of CPAs didn’t want to touch it. They understand terms and programs, but don’t understand other factors,” Stenson said. “We have developed an expertise… . Hundreds of CPAs have started referring their clients to us.
Today, Stenson Tamaddon has 4,000 mid-market corporate clients who reached out to him during the pandemic.
The company’s business model continues to evolve to include services for various tax credit programs beyond those triggered by a global health crisis.
“We will continue to assist businesses with emerging credits and other tax policy initiatives. We will continue to build compliance-focused portals,” Stenson said.
The company also wants to increase business owners’ confidence in their current tax situation and pursue any credits they may qualify for.
“It’s gratifying to know that we’ve built something that helps everyone,” Stenson said. “Our customers have stability and we help contribute to that stabilization.”
What: Stenson Tamaddon
Where: 1 N. Central Avenue, Suite 1030, Phoenix
Factoid: There are 32.5 million small businesses in the United States, representing 99.9% of businesses, according to the Small Business Administration.
Details: 602-560-9393, www.stentam.com