You can take the man out of the community, but you can’t take the community spirit out of the man.
A 30-year transplant to Lebanon, Vin Garcia would’ve served his community no matter where he settled. But he landed here, and because he did, Lebanon is a much better place to live.
Recently, the Community of Lebanon Association introduced Garcia as its Merritt Marks Memorial Businessperson of the Year. Garcia, a 1987 graduate of Hauppauge High School in Long Island, New York, is one of the founders and the president of the downtown Lebanon CPA firm of Garcia, Garman & Shea, PC.
“I fell into Lebanon,” said Garcia. “I didn’t go looking for Lebanon. Lebanon came looking for me.
“I was hoping the work would speak for itself,” added Garcia. “It’s what I do. There’s a mission going on behind the scenes. But I don’t do it to be recognized. I’m glad to help Lebanon. Lebanon needs help.”
Garcia will be presented with the Merritt Marks Memorial Businessperson of the Year award during the CLA’s annual gala on Wednesday, Oct. 12 at the Hebron Banquet Hall, 701 E. Walnut St. Selected by a committee from a handful of nominees, Garcia succeeds 2021 winners Dave and Laurie Funk.
The CLA’s Businessperson of the Year award is given annually to a local business professional who best exemplifies Merritt Marks’ philanthropic nature of inspiring those around him, community service and the desire to make Lebanon’s downtown a better place to work and do business. One of the founding members of the Center of Lebanon Association in the 1980s, Marks coined the phrase ‘It’s a great day in Lebanon, PA’.
“It’s very important to me to give back,” said Garcia, a 53-year-old resident of South Lebanon. “I’m a CPA (certified public accountant) and what I get out of being a CPA is helping people, helping people with problems. If we could do it for free, we would, and our clients are local. You don’t have to ask me to give back. It’s what I do. It’s to support the community that supports us.
“I love what I do. I work with people who love what they do. It starts from there. But with that, you can accomplish a lot. When your partners are behind you, you can make your life better and everyone’s around you better. But it all starts with loving what you do.”
“We look at a person’s overall body of work,” said Greg Bracale, the president of CLA. “Vin has been a really long-time supporter of CLA. They support a lot of the events we do throughout the year. They just do a lot of community service work. Vin’s the kind of guy who would help out anybody. The significance of the award is to show the community that our members are out there doing more than their 9-to-5 jobs.”
A past treasurer of the CLA as well as Community Homes of Lebanon County, Garcia is a board member of East Region WellSpan Health and the Lebanon Foundation, while also serving as a member of the Lebanon City Design Review Board. Garcia, a member of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, has been instrumental in Garcia, Garman & Shea PC’s expansion in and outside of Lebanon.
“I’m not born and bred in Pennsylvania,” said Garcia, who graduated from Millersville University with a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1991. “I graduated from Millersville and continued to live here. In Lancaster, there was this perception like ‘Why would you want to go to Lebanon?’ The perception of people not from Lebanon is that it’s different. People from Lebanon will travel to Lancaster, but people from Lancaster will not travel north to Lebanon.”
“I don’t have that perception,” Garcia added. “My perception of Lebanon is that it’s a great place to live and work. I want to share my perception. The people here are great. The businesses here are great.”
After college, Garcia came to work at the Lebanon CPA agency that would later bear his name. It was that sense of community spirit and pride that led to Garcia, Garman & Shea, PC being founded in 2006.
“I met Matt Garman when he was working up the road on Eighth Street,” said Garcia. “Matt’s and my firms were competing for the same work. We were five blocks from each other’s office and it occurred to me, ‘Why don’t we pool our resources, bring our skills together?’
“There is a range of things we do,” Garcia added. “We can be auditors. CPAs serve as an independent third party which verifies that numbers are real, that profits are real. We’re in the middle between you and government agencies. We also help people respond to inquiries from the government. We help people stay organized. We help people who make money stay organized.”
Growing up on Long Island, Garcia had an inkling that he might one day become a CPA, but he never imagined it would be in Lebanon. Yet, he was always quite sure that wherever his calling took him, he would want to give back.
“My oldest brother is 12 years older than me, and he’s an accountant,” said Garcia. “When I was going to school, here was this man working as a professional. That was an example of what you could do. He had a nice car and he always had money. I was always good in math. It seemed comfortable. It always seemed doable. My oldest brother was the example.
“People who are involved with nonprofits are always looking for time, talent or treasure. As far as talent goes, being a CPA is what I bring. I grew up in a big family, I’m the sixth of seven children. Growing up, you’re always supporting each other and someone always needs help. As you grow older, your ability to help increases. I want to spread that around where I can. You share what you have.”
Now in his mid-50s, Garcia continues to work hard, just a little smarter. Not only does he take his community spirit with him wherever he goes, it helps sustain him.
“One of the reasons I went into accounting is that you can continue to work many, many years,” Garcia said. “I’ve dealt with three generations of clients, and this is a cycle. There’s no target date for retirement. People who are constantly challenged seem to lead a longer and fuller life.
“You can slow down, but you don’t have to give the whole thing up,” concluded Garcia. “One of the reasons I aspired to own a firm was to control my schedule. I have some flexibility. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to work anymore. I plan on working as long as I can.”
A numbers guy and a people person.
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