By Lori Kersey
Chris Deweese, a partner at Suttle & Stalnaker, PLLC, is an accountant with the heart of an entrepreneur. Before the Chelyan native could even drive, he had already started his own business.
“I started a small lawn mowing company and was mowing as many neighbors’ yards as I could,” he recalls. “I was known for mowing at a sprint, and I would never agree to work by the hour. While I took pride in how fast I could get the job done, I kept quality as my number one priority.”
Deweese knew from a young age he wanted to be an accountant. He credits his mentor, Jack Suttle, with showing him how to turn a job into a meaningful career.
“Jack was a true inspiration and visionary who focused on improving his chosen profession and everyone around him,” says Deweese. “Throughout his entire life, Jack was a giver in his professional career, his personal life and his Christian faith.”
Deweese’s career with the firm began when he was hired as an intern in 1994. The following year, he went full time after graduating from the University of Charleston. In those early years, he made more money with his lawn care business then he did as an accountant, so he kept it up, mowing lawns in the evenings and on weekends while working tirelessly to gain as much exposure and experience as possible and build his professional network.
His dedication paid off, and he was made a partner at Suttle & Stalnaker in 2004. Today, Deweese is the firm’s director of accounting and auditing, and he oversees the quality control and continuing professional education areas for the firm and is responsible for the public company audit engagements.
In 2007, Deweese—ever the entrepreneur—and his father started MOX Properties LLC, a residential rental property business. The father and son duo built a four-unit apartment building together, and today the business has 70 rental properties.
In 2011, Deweese opened Meadow Ridge Ranch, a startup cattle operation, even though he had no prior experience with cattle. He has expanded the ranch to include 2,000 acres in Jackson and Putnam counties for raising and selling calves and baling hay. In 2017, he opened Meadow Ridge Ranch II with the purchase of additional farmland and 50 rental units in Jackson County.
Like entrepreneur, mentor has been an important role for Deweese throughout his career, whether in his company, as a coach or through his involvement in professional organizations. He helped establish a mentorship program at Suttle & Stalnaker, and he serves as president and executive committee member of the West Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (WVSCPAs). He has also served as president of the Charleston chapter of the WVSCPAs and council member for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is involved with the Government Financial Officers Association and West Virginia Board of Education accounting committee.
“Change is a critical component in the CPA profession, and we must continue to grow our brand and the knowledge that we pass on to the next generation,” he says.
Deweese is also committed to giving back to his community. He volunteers his time as a coach for Maranatha Baptist Church’s Upward Basketball League and chairman of the statewide committee and Charleston banquet for the National Wild Turkey Federation, where he helps raise funds for hunters with disabilities and programs aimed at engaging children with the outdoors. He is also a founder and past board member for the Bridgemont Foundation. When it comes to deciding where to give his time, Deweese’s priorities are his family, his faith and his profession.
“Someone gave back and allowed me the opportunities I have had, and it is not a right but a duty for me to also give back for the next generation,” he says.
Deweese’s family is the inspiration for all he does. Tracie, his wife of nearly 22 years, keeps him grounded, and his 16-year-old daughter, Madison, shares her father’s entrepreneurial spirit.
“What I do is for my family and my family’s future,” he says. “When I take my last breath, I want to have left them with my faith and the spirit to not only continue what I have started but take it to the next level.”
1995 Graduated from University of Charleston
1995 Started full-time position with Suttle & Stalnaker
1998 Married wife, Tracie
2004 Became a partner at Suttle & Stalnaker
2004 Daughter, Madison, was born
2007 Opened MOX Properties
2011 Opened Meadow Ridge Ranch
2017 Opened Meadow Ridge Ranch II
2019 Named president of the WVSCPAs