Business Profile: Karen A. Helinski, CPA

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Accountants Ellen Schultheis (from left), Adam Siejka, Karen Helinski and Laurie Heroy.

Owner(s): Karen A. Helinksi, CPA

Year established: 2007

Location: 240 Beckwith Ave., Southold

Phone: (631) 765-1118

Number of employees: 3

It takes more than a good head for numbers to be a good accountant; it takes a way with people — listening, learning and understanding, says Karen Helinksi, a CPA with her own firm in Southold.

With clients who are lifelong friends and neighbors, that knack must come easy for her.

Born Karen Domaleski in Greenport, she’s a 1980 graduate of Mattituck High School who studied business at C.W. Post and married a Southold man who is a corrections officer. When they were dating, she was already working for Sullivan & Preston, a Southold accounting firm.

One of her bosses there, Jim Preston, told her she should become a CPA herself — and she did, studying nights at LIU Southampton. Married and eight months pregnant with her daughter Kristin, she took and passed the CPA test in 1990.

Today, Ms. Helinski’s office is in the same location on Beckwith Avenue where she first worked in accounting. But now she owns the company, having bought out George Sullivan when he retired in 1999 and CPA Lillian Sheldon when she retired in 2007. Mr. Preston left the partnership in the late 1980s.

“Anyone can crunch numbers,” Ms. Helinski said, “but it’s all about one’s personality and how you deal with clients, sitting and talking and getting a feel for their concerns. That’s what makes a CPA extra special.”

It’s also “good to have roots in the community,” she added.

Her daughter is studying math at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut and could make a great CPA herself, Ms. Helinski said, but Kristen is thinking more about teaching at the high school level. Ms. Helinski said she has taught her accounting, though, in case she ever changes her mind.

The company, which has three staff accountants — Laurie Heroy, Ellen Schultheis and Adam Siejka — offers a range of services for individuals and businesses, including tax planning and preparation, accounting and auditing.

“We view every client relationship like a partnership,” Ms. Helinski said, “and believe that our success is a result of the client’s success. We prefer to take a proactive approach. By keeping current on new tax laws and legislation, we are in a position to identify key tax planning opportunities that minimize both current and future tax liabilities.”

The firm has an interactive website that clients can use to track important deadlines and even collect their own information, at Office hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment.