Martin Kirshner poses for a headshot picture in a brown suit.
The Energy Practice Group leading partner shares insights & surprises in his role

Describe your current role at your company.

I am the partner leading our firm’s Energy Practice Group, which provides propane and heating oil dealers across the country with industry-specific consulting and advisory guidance, accounting and compliance services, and M&A services through our FuelExchange subsidiary. I generally help fuel marketers run their businesses more efficiently and profitably.

What do you think would surprise someone about the job you do?

I think it would surprise people that there is a CPA out there who specializes in this industry and shares the similar passions for it that they do.

Most people assume CPAs just handle taxes. Many folks I run into in the industry tell me their CPA only talks to them once a year to do tax planning and again at the end when they’ve completed the deliverable. I look at myself as more of an extension of the management team, and I want to be talking to business owners throughout the year, addressing challenges as they come up.


The extent of the services I’m able to help companies with is so much more than taxes — in fact, I am not even a tax person by trade. I grew up in the audit and financial advisory side of the business.

How would you spend an unexpected day off?

I am in the middle of bringing up three young kids, so assuming I have an unexpected day off and they are in school, I legitimately might spend it by taking a nap!

What is the most valuable lesson(s) you have learned in your career to date?

You can only control what you can control, and you can only do one thing at a time. If you go to bed at night knowing you did the best you could, even if it meant you made a mistake, you can’t beat yourself up. I am not a doctor curing cancer, so in my line of work you just can’t sweat the small stuff. The other thing I learned is to be a servant to others. The more you do for others — whether it be mentoring, referring business or just caring — the more you will receive back. I found this to be such a welcoming industry, and some of the industry partners I have met along the way are also eager to pass knowledge on to me and share their insights. All of this makes me want to pay it forward for the next generation of folks coming in.

How would your colleagues describe you?

Probably as a pain in the neck, but in a good way. I can sometimes come across as unfiltered because I like to tell it like it is; but there is always an underlying respect.

What changes in the industry do you hope will happen in the next few years?

I would like to see more young people enter the industry and help carry it to the next chapter. I hope the industry can come out on the other side of all the political drama that seems never-ending. I’d also like to see more industry partners work together rather than apart.

At the end of the day, we are all here to serve our customers and neighbors. And while we may compete with one another, there are plenty of fish in the sea. What we are all trying to do is support them, their families and their businesses.

Describe some of the biggest professional challenges you’ve experienced over your career.

I think the biggest challenge has been just making a name for myself. Given its reputation in the energy space, the firm had always provided me a platform. But I had to practice patience. That meant attending shows year after year, trying to speak at events, conveying my thoughts to marketers and, in many cases, convincing people who had been running their companies for years — even before I was born — that I can still provide valuable insight to help them lead their business. It took years before I finally felt I hit my stride.

What advice do you have for someone coming into the industry?

If you are working for a marketer, make sure you know what your career path is. Make sure there is a destination worth reaching for. If you are an industry partner, just show up and make relationships. It’s not about turning everyone into a client. That will not happen overnight. However, if you are there for them when they need you and you aren’t constantly trying to sell your goods or services, they will remember you.

What’s a skill you would like to improve on?

I am always working on improving my listening skills. I certainly like to talk, and I always like to hear what people have to say. But I think being a listener always trumps being a talker, so I want to be better at listening.


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