Many people dream of making the big time: representing clients in high-profile court cases, offering their services to professional athletes, booking tours for world-renowned bands. Scott Gardiner, founding partner of Gardiner & Appel Group, has always maintained the opposite mindset. He enjoys helping the little guy — a task he set out to accomplish after opening his accounting firm from his basement in April 1979.
“I’ve always had a great respect for the entrepreneurial spirit,” Gardiner said. “In those days, retail was pretty healthy. It takes a lot of courage to start a small business. Plumbers, electricians, contractors, restaurant owners — I’ve always had a great deal of admiration for them.”
Gardiner found a niche by offering help to small businesses while other accountants were chasing bigger clients. He moved to an office on Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard and was joined in 1998 by Karl Appel. The two met while Scott was coaching their daughters in soccer for the Green Hornets.
“I wanted someone with the same mindset to support small businesses,” Gardiner said. “Karl worked hard, and four years ago, he became the managing partner.”
Appel aided Gardiner in the mission to help clients with not only tax preparation and planning but also the everyday ins and outs of running a business.
“They need advice on pricing, marketing, bookkeeping and tax planning,” Gardiner said.
Over the years, the staff has grown to 15 employees, and Gardiner and Appel treat their employees well to ensure their services for the long-term. They value their employees, who in turn deliver great service to their clients.
The firm has secured many new clients while still keeping Gardiner’s first client, a pet food supply company. Technology has continued to shape the accounting industry. “When I started, we were doing tax returns by hand,” Gardiner said. “Now, almost all of our tax returns are filed electronically.”
Since that time, the partners never waned in their fervent belief that small businesses are valuable to the community. Gardiner & Appel Group continues to be involved in many aspects of the community.
Gardiner has served as the past president of Severna Park, Annapolis and Northern Anne Arundel County chambers of commerce. He has volunteered to judge floats during the Severna Park Fourth of July Parade and been a guest chef during chamber cookouts.
Appel is on the board of directors for the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the Anne Arundel County Ethics Commission and as the treasurer of the Chartwell Golf & Country Club.
“We live and work in the area,” Appel said, “and it’s important for us to be part of the community. We are located in the heart of Severna Park, and one of the highlights of the year is entertaining friends and clients during the annual Fourth of July Severna Park parade.”
Forty years have come and gone, but the partners at Gardiner & Appel have stayed committed to their roots, helping local businesses prosper.
“There’s no end in sight,” Gardiner said. “With Karl at the helm, he is going to steer it in the right direction and it will continue to grow.”