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In 1972, John Kaiser co-founded Cray Kaiser with Jim Cray, whom he met while the tax manager of a large Chicago CPA firm. As entrepreneurs and practitioners, they set out to distinguish their firm from the pack by fostering authentic, long-term relationships with customers. A testament to their conviction, Cray Kaiser’s client roster today includes some of the same companies and people who engaged the firm on day one.

For John, public accounting is more than a professional discipline. It’s a vocation—a means to help people turn personal and professional goals into realities. Under his stewardship, Cray Kaiser earned a long-standing reputation for the highest standards of integrity, service and professionalism.

As the founding tax Principal, John has helped innumerable clients make critically important financial decisions to improve their business and tax practices alike. In more recent years, he has directed his attention toward giving back to the industry to which he’s devoted his career. Fostering the next generation of professionals, he cultivates new talent at Cray Kaiser and delivers seminars on tax and business finance topics at various organizations.

A lifelong Chicagoan, John attended DePaul University and earned a Master’s Degree from Northwestern University. His community involvement has included membership on the Joliet Diocese School Board, for which he served as President, and membership with the DuPage County Estate Planning Council. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees and the Audit, Financial Operations and By-laws Committees of the DuPage Foundation.

John also sits on the board of Sharing Connections, having served a six-year term as its President. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit provides furniture, clothing and household goods to low-income families.

The Lighter Side

Hobbies: On the course, golf with sons. On the lake, watersports with grandchildren.
History buff: Recently devoured “Killing Lincoln,” by Bill O’Reilly.
You didn’t know: Young John planned to be an engineer, but DePaul didn’t offer that major. A CPA was born.
Best vacation: Cruising the Panama Canal. “We didn’t want it to end.”
Guilty pleasure: Chips and beer.
Favorite city: Prague—for the people, food (goulash and beer!) and history.
Near & dear: Wife and best friend, Paulette.

Roger Reitz has worked in public accounting all but two years of his career. Having joined Cray Kaiser in 1985, he served as the firm’s Managing Principal for 17 years. Over that time and into the present, he has played an instrumental role in developing the firm’s commitment to high-touch service, as well as its niche expertise in closely held and family-owned businesses.

Of late, he focuses on audit and attest services and is one of three Cray Kaiser principals with accreditation as a Certified Valuation Analyst. Extending his expertise in closely held and family-owned businesses to the community at large, he also leads educational sessions for members of the Entrepreneur and Family Business Council at DePaul University.

Given his years of service as a CPA, Roger knows talent when he sees it. Among his proudest achievements: He hired two of the firm’s current Principals at the dawn of their careers. With a belief that talent rises to the top, he actively encourages Cray Kaiser’s current group of budding leaders to reach the height of their potential.

He has been involved with numerous professional organizations over the course of his career but is most passionate about his work with the Accounting Principles Committee of the Illinois CPA Society. As a senior technical committee within the society, the group reviews and comments on proposed changes to standards. He derives a great deal of satisfaction from the opportunity to affect all practice units in the profession he loves.

Roger holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Community: Past Memberships: Rotary Club, Community Library Board, Catholic High School Board. Past Presidency: River Forest Tennis Club.

The Lighter Side

Hobbies: Golf and tennis—for the (occasional) thrill of victory!
Work/life motto: Knowledge is power.
Reading motto: So many books, so little time.
Wishes he could bottle: A healthy serving of that otherwise scant time.
Best past trip: Africa—for the animals, landscape and the incredible spirit of people who have very little.
Best upcoming trip: Wherever it takes him.
Near & dear: Wife Markey, daughter Julia.

A CK Principal since 1994, Jim Slager delivers on Cray Kaiser’s promise as a full-service public accounting practice, providing a vast scope of services pertaining to audits, accounting and tax planning and preparation. Having joined Cray Kaiser in 1986, his accumulated wealth of knowledge spans industries and competencies.

Jim is one of three leaders at the firm with accreditation as a Certified Valuation Analyst. His expertise lies in valuations related to gift tax, divorce, shareholder dispute, buy-sell and estate planning. In the latter case, he works with clients to ensure that they maximize the transfer of wealth to heirs while minimizing tax-related expenses.

In addition, Jim leads the firm’s offering in the heavily regulated area of employee benefit plan audits. As the Department of Labor steps up its requisites in this sphere, Jim’s specialty fills a need not many other firms can.

In more recent years, Jim has turned his attention to the next generation of leaders. He aims to give the current crop of junior talent the same opportunities he had as a 27-year-old new hire. With an open-door policy, he inspires Cray Kaiser’s staff accountants to deepen their skills at every turn. By fostering talent within the firm today, he’s passing on the highest standards of integrity and professionalism for tomorrow.

Jim holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Economics from Calvin College.

Community: Former Treasurer/Board Member, Will County Habitat for Humanity. Graduate: Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership School.

The Lighter Side

Season tickets: The Chicago Bulls (for 25+ years, in fact).
Sports pedigree: Son of a basketball coach.
Would rather be: Golfing!
Vacation preference: Anything aquatic. Preferably river rafting.
Can’t say no to: Chocolate.
Near & dear: Wife Rita, sons Stephen and Nicholas.