Erika Ondersma partners with LaFleur to help us crunch the numbers. A Grand Rapids, Michigan, native and accounting graduate from Western Michigan University, Erika has worked with businesses that range from established corporations to scrappy startups and non-profits. She finds joy in the perfect logic of a tidy balance sheet, and she sat down with us to discuss how she spends her treasured Michigan summers and reveal her expectations-defying love for an iconic metal band.
LaFleur: Have you always been a numbers person?
Erika Ondersma: I guess I would say yes. I took my first accounting class in my senior year of high school, just as an add-on. And that class, I was like, hey, I like this. And that really helped me determine my course in life.
LF: What do you like about accounting?
EO: I like the order of it and the detail of it. It’s pretty clear-cut where things need to go, there’s a process to it, and ideally, at the end of the month, everything should balance and tie together. So, I like the neatness of it.
LF: Before you came to LaFleur, you had kind of a freelance or consulting type of business setup, right?
EO: I do, yes, but I’m also an employee at a company, and I’ve been there maybe 10 years already. It’s part-time, so I thought, well, I’ve got two or three more days that I can do stuff with, and that’s how I started to branch out on my own.
LF: And how long have you been doing that?
EO: I’ve kind of gone back and forth. Several years ago, I did it for just a few very small clients, and then I ended up getting another position, and that took up the rest of my time. And last year, I resigned that position, took a little break, and then thought, hey, it’s time to start up again.
LF: And when you’re doing that, I know here at LaFleur, you come in and join us in the office sometimes, but other than that, do you mostly work from home when you’re working for yourself?
EO: I go back and forth. I can pop in the office and see clients, but I do also bring quite a bit home and work from there.
LF: Do you have a routine or tricks that help you stay productive working from home? I know for some people, it’s easy, and for others, it’s really hard to stay productive at home.
EO: I was a little nervous about that too, but I just kind of set up in the dining room area and make it my little desk. Sometimes it can be hard to force yourself to get into it, but I find once I’m into it, I almost have to force myself to stop. Sometimes I have to kick myself, like hey, time to stop working and pay attention to the family.
LF: Right. Well, you have two kids, right? I’m assuming they make that mandatory sometimes.
EO: [laughs] Yes, they do.
LF: How old are your kids?
EO: One will be a high school freshman in the fall and the other is in seventh grade.
LF: Ah, okay. They’re entering the drama years.
EO: Yes. They keep us busy.
LF: What kinds of things do you like to do outside of work when you have time, either by yourself or with your family?
EO: I’m a big summertime person, so when summer hits, you’ll find me at the pool or the beach. Wherever I go, I usually bring several books. I’m mainly a reader in the summer because, during the school year, I find it’s just too busy. But yeah, love to read, love to camp, love to ride bikes and just generally stay outdoors in the summer.
LF: A good Michigan summer is hard to beat. You have to treasure it, because it goes fast.
EO: I know. When it’s here, I take full advantage.
LF: So, are those things your family likes to do too?
EO: Yeah, we love it. We try to go maybe once or twice a summer, but yeah, the boys are all in on camping and the beach and all of it.
LF: What’s your favorite getaway spot in Michigan for the summer?
EO: My parents have a little cottage up north in Onekama, so we go up there as much as we can. It’s not on the lake, but it’s maybe 10 minutes away from the lake, and it’s just such a relaxing spot. That’s definitely what I equate Onekama with, relaxing and taking trips to the coffee shop and bookstore in Manistee.
LF: I haven’t been to Onekama, but Manistee is incredible in the summer.
EO: Yeah, we love it.
LF: You mentioned that you’re a reader. What kinds of things do you like to read?
EO: I like to read lots of different things. I read historical fiction a lot. I like mysteries, a little bit of chick lit in there, but not too much. And a regular good-old novel is hard to beat.
LF: What are you reading right now?
EO: I’m reading The Thirteenth Tale. It’s about an author who has written several books through her life, and there’s just one story she hasn’t told yet, and it happens to be the story of her childhood. And even though she has been repeatedly questioned in all of her interviews through her career about her childhood, she’s always given a different flippant answer to it. But now she’s coming to the end of her life, and she’s decided that her tale isn’t complete until she tells this story. It’s a little bit of a mystery and biography wrapped up, and I’m anxious to go home and finish it.
LF: Would you recommend it?
EO: For sure. It’s very good.
LF: What’s something about you that surprises people?
EO: It usually surprises people to know that I’m a pretty avid Metallica fan.
LF: Really. Okay, I wouldn’t have guessed that. What’s your favorite Metallica album? It’s very debatable, within reason.
EO: Definitely one from their earlier days. I would say, “Ride the Lightning.”
LF: That’s a solid answer. I would personally pick “Master of Puppets,” but there’s no wrong answer as long as you stick to the ‘80s stuff.
EO: “Master of Puppets” is my favorite Metallica song, so objectively I might have to agree with you on that one.
LF: Do you like a lot of other metal?
EO: Not too much, but Metallica just does it for me for whatever reason.
LF: You don’t have to explain it to me.