The Swartz Report: Celebrating 10 Years!

By Donald Swartz, President

Celebrating 10 Years!If you are a user of LinkedIn, you may have seen the pop up messages, “Congratulate Don Swartz on ten years at Swartz & Associates” or something to that effect. LinkedIn stole my thunder, as I wanted to make the big announcement, but I guess I needed to post this BEFORE June 1st 😊

So many thoughts racing through my head over the past few months; I swear it seems like yesterday when I invited friends, who I greatly respected for their work in the business community and as business owners, to create an Advisory Board for my new company, Swartz & Associates. I remain friends with all of them today and will be ramping up the Advisory Board to help navigate the next ten years.

I was convinced we could survive and thrive, but to believe I would have 14 employees today across two companies; an established presence in the Kansas City area, Las Vegas, Iowa, Southern California and most recently, Texas??? Not a chance.

The Swartz + Associates Team
The Swartz + Associates Team

Celebrating the highs and lows.

But here we are celebrating the highs and also tempered and saddened by the lows.

Even as a small company, we are not immune to end of life sorrow that has touched employees and employee’s families. We have had more than our fair share of grieving these past years including this past week, yet everyone remains resilient and connected. I am very proud of the group we have put together representing Swartz + Associates and Indurante. They are dedicated to our work, dedicated to our clients and dedicated to making sure the next ten years will be even better than the previous.

This is my opportunity to thank them openly for their efforts. We would not be celebrating if not for them and their commitments – they truly inspire me.

The Indurante Team

The Indurante Team

Everyone has an important role.

My goal is to continue to make these companies an environment where everyone feels they have a role and plays a part in our success. No one is too big and certainly, no one is too small. Everyone is a difference maker, even when they don’t realize the impact they’re making on others. Often, I lose sight of this, but I promise to keep trying.

I also promise to continue to communicate with not only our clients, but the jurisdictions we work with throughout the year. The greatest compliments we receive are generated from various counties and or state taxing authorities who never question the integrity of our work. I hope our clients feel the same way. If not, I want to know – I will continue to make myself accessible via phone or email.

I will soon be approaching my 39th year in the industry, and I’m as excited about work today as I’ve ever been.

Thank you to our clients, our friends, the community at large
and most importantly my staff that makes this all happen.

As always, please let me know your thoughts – or .

David, Keith and Don Swartz

David, Keith and Don Swartz

The Swartz Report: CinemaCon 2024 – A Property Tax Perspective

Last month, you may recall I discussed the power of AI in the workplace and the seminars David Sukenik from our office was attending. As a result of the four courses he virtually participated in, we are now subscribers of ChatGPT4. Many thanks to Dean Bezdek and Centriq Group, LLC for setting up this course. (To learn more about Centriq Group, LLC and their offerings, please visit their website.)

Speaking of Technology…

We recently upgraded our copier and I was playing around with all the new, fancy features. While standing at the copier, I discussed ChatGPT4 with David and what my blog this month would sound like if it was created by ChatGPT – take a read 😊

CinemaCon 2024: Insights and Trends from the Heart of Las Vegas – A Property Tax Perspective

The Swartz Report: CinemaCon 2024 – A Property Tax PerspectiveLast week, I had the privilege of attending CinemaCon 2024, held at the iconic Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. This pivotal event in the cinema industry is not just a gathering for film aficionados but also a critical touchpoint for professionals like myself who specialize in property tax issues related to cinema properties. Joined by my good friend Mike Hagan, CFO of B&B Theaters, we sought to deepen our connections with cinema owners and gain insights into the future of the industry, crucial for our property tax advocacy efforts.

Leveraging Connections for Enhanced Property Tax Solutions

Our longstanding relationship with B&B Theaters, for whom we have conducted numerous property tax appeals, positioned us uniquely to engage with other industry stakeholders. CinemaCon offers an invaluable platform for sharing experiences and challenges related to property tax management within the cinema industry. The discussions we had were insightful, highlighting shared concerns and innovative solutions that can be applied across various jurisdictions.

Impact of Industry Trends on Property Valuations

Several key trends identified at CinemaCon have direct implications for property tax considerations:

  1. Technological Upgrades: As cinemas invest in advanced technologies like laser projectors and state-of-the-art sound systems, the valuation of these properties becomes more complex. These enhancements can increase a property’s assessed value, necessitating astute tax strategies to manage potential increases in property tax obligations.
  2. Reimagining Spaces: The shift towards providing luxurious seating and comprehensive amenities requires significant capital investment. These improvements can affect property assessments and, consequently, property taxes. Understanding these changes is essential for accurately appealing tax valuations and ensuring fairness in taxation.
  3. Diversity in Content and Format: The trend towards offering a wider array of content, including live events and special screenings, can alter a theater’s revenue streams and impact its financial valuation. This diversification, while beneficial for attracting a broader audience, also adds layers of complexity to the valuation process for tax purposes.

The Future Outlook from a Tax Perspective

The optimism about the future of the movie industry, despite competition from streaming platforms, suggests a robust potential for continued investment in cinema properties. This growth outlook necessitates ongoing vigilance in property tax management to ensure that assessments are fair and reflective of true market values. It’s an exciting time for those of us in property tax services, as we align our strategies to support our clients through these evolving challenges.

Conclusion

Attending CinemaCon 2024 provided us not only with insights into the trends shaping the movie theater industry but also reinforced the importance of our work in property tax services. For clients like B&B Theaters and others in the cinema space, staying ahead of these trends means better preparing for the future financial landscapes and tax obligations. The insights garnered from this event will directly enhance our ability to advise and represent our clients effectively.

As the industry continues to evolve, so too will the strategies needed to manage property tax implications.  We look forward to using these insights to assist our clients in navigating the exciting future of the movie theater industry.

WOW, right????

While this is not necessarily the wording I would traditionally use in my blog, I thought I would provide an unedited version generated in literally, seconds.

So, how do we embrace this technology to our benefit? Stay tuned as you will have to determine if this is me OR if this is AI going forward.
HINT: Betting money says ME.

As always, I appreciate your feedback and comments.  or .

The Swartz Report: Artificial Intelligence in the Workplace

By Donald Swartz, President

Earlier this month I posted an interview involving David Swartz and the review/appeal of commercial real estate valuations in Iowa. I have posted the introduction and podcast below –

For the interview you’ll meet David Swartz who, along with his brother, operates Swartz and Associates. Their skill is to successfully appeal commercial property tax assessments and their record for winning is pretty amazing. How and why? We asked and David answered. To hear that conversation click the link below:

Podcast: Help Challenging Commercial Property Taxes? Meet David Swartz

AI in the Workplace

The Swartz Report: Artificial Intelligence in the WorkplaceLast week, David Sukenik virtually attended his first of four sessions concerning the use and power of AI in the workplace. Earlier this year, I tinkered around with ChatGPT to craft a letter to prospects as well as enhancing various job descriptions.

As I enter my 38th year in the review of property tax assessments, it is truly amazing how the use of technology has changed how we work. Podcasts? Hubspot? AI, ChatGPT? Better late than never!

So, What’s next?

I’ve realized being resistant to change is not a viable strategy. We cannot allow ourselves to be set in our ways; to do things the way “we have always done them” or discount ideas because they have never been attempted before.

I have mentioned to my employees my role in the coming years is to focus on strategic thinking. I believe I’ve been better about delegating various day-to-day responsibilities (although you would probably have to ask my team members to get their opinions on this 😊). I know I have a long way to go but have confidence in everyone and their abilities to best represent our clients in the review of valuations across all spectrums – business personal property, fixed asset valuations, commercial real estate, private rail cars and yes, residential valuations (as warranted).

Removing myself from these day-to-day activities will allow me to continue to move the Indurante and Swartz businesses forward, ensuring our employees have the opportunity to develop their careers with the companies. Bringing an internal business developer into the mix was a concern of mine for many years. When the right opportunity presented itself, we made the decision to move forward. The success has been so notable that we added another business developer into a new market.

Back to AI…

While the above team updates are not examples of new technology, the changes do represent risk, the ability to adapt and the results we can achieve when we embrace change. In my opinion, the use of AI is the next great tool to enhance our business and the way we handle our work and processes. Instead of fearing what AI may take away, I would like to embrace AI technology and see how it helps us grow.

And yes, the featured image for this blog post was generated by MidJourney, an AI that specializes in image creation.

Though I definitely do not plan to spend the next 38 years redefining and growing the business, please know I have a few ideas that I would like to see happen in the next 5-10 years. I have never been more excited to embrace the future. I look forward to sharing this continued journey with you!

As always, I appreciate your feedback and comments.  or .

The Swartz Report: Conferences, Commercial Property Valuation Dates and More!

The Swartz Report: Conferences, Commercial Property Valuation Dates and More!Railroad Equipment Finance Conference

Last year, Noelle Giacomino and I attended our first Railroad Equipment Finance conference.  As I noted last year, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of existing clients attending the conference and our chance to interact with many of them face to face. We will again be attending the conference and hopefully, we will not be making the “rookie” mistakes in our second year.

What sort of rookie mistakes could one make??? When attending a conference, I have learned it is always a good idea to review the attendee listing as far in advance as possible. This allows us to reach out to our clients or prospects; let them know we will be there and try to establish a plan to connect at the social events each evening or meet for lunch or dinner if possible.

Many we met last year had already committed to several evenings and with a little planning, we could have made better use of our evenings as well. It was still a great conference and we connected with many, but our hope this year is to make the event even better for connecting with friends, clients and prospects.

International Association of Defense Counsel Conference

This has been particularly true as I attend my wife’s Mid-Year Conference for the IADC (International Association of Defense Counsel). We have been attending this conference on and off for the past 20 years. When we review the listing of attendees and participate in the planned dinners and social networking events, it is always great to see familiar faces and catch up on life’s activities.

One can never underestimate the effect these social aspects have on your professional life. Being a spouse at these events has allowed me to meet legal counsel from all over the country; several of which I have engaged over the years to assist in significant property tax appeals. Having local legal counsel has, in most cases, defined our success with our clients.

Enough of the socializing – there is work to do!

Johnson County, KS released their 2024 valuations for commercial property with an appeal deadline of March 13th. Many values have remained flat or decreased slightly from the 2023 tax year. The question for many is whether this is accurately representing the marketplace. Many industries are still suffering from high vacancy issues and possible repurposing of the property.

How does this affect market value? It is a worthy question, but it is difficult to justify the current valuation in many cases.

We are knee deep in assisting/filing of business personal property declaration in many states, starting with MI filings due by February 20th to AR filings due at the end of May. Additionally, we are receiving our data for our annual railcar property tax filings and business will be at a peak from now until May 15th.

Let’s not forget what is truly important –

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere sympathies to the victims of the senseless violence in the midst of a wonderful Kansas City celebration for the Chiefs Super Bowl victory. If you are inclined and wish to donate, please consider the following funds to support the families by visiting the following GoFundMe link:

https://www.gofundme.com/c/act/kansas-city-parade-help

Thank you for your continued support of Swartz and Indurante – let’s help support those in need.

As always, you can reach me at or . Thank you for reading! I would love to hear from you in the comments.

The Swartz Report: Introducing Keith Sherman

By Donald Swartz, President

Keith ShermanIn a previous blog, I mentioned the statement, “If you’re not moving forward, you are moving backward.

In the spirit of moving forward, I am very excited to announce the hiring of Keith Sherman to our Swartz & Associates, Inc. Team (SAI). Keith provides a local presence to our expanding SAI footprint in the state of TX and its bordering states. Prior to joining SAI, Keith spent 35+ years as a marketing/advertising executive across diverse industries including Real Estate, Manufacturing, Retail, Consumer Packaged Goods, Quick Service Restaurants, Travel and Tourism, Multi-Unit Franchise, Non-Profit, Telecommunications and more.

More importantly, Keith is a fellow Hawkeye and a big sports fan – can you tell if we have any similarities? 😊
I have known Keith for a long time, and we believe this is a great opportunity for both of us as we begin the process of expanding our presence in the Texas market.

Hoping to build on the success David Swartz brought to SAI this past year, Keith will offer the same attributes and business acumen to our company in his role of business development. Keith and David will be working together in the exchange of ideas and making sure SAI remains a relevant player in the review of property tax assessments.  My promise to them (and our clients) is that we will continue to provide excellent analysis, review and appeals experience with our staff and strategic partners. For the past 37 years, I have worked to earn our client’s trust, and I believe this is a major reason Keith decided to join the company.

Please join me in welcoming Keith to the SAI team. You may learn more Keith on our website and may reach him directly at .

In Other News

Although this is an “off year” in the re-assessment cycle for many states we handle properties (IA, MO, CO, etc.) there are many taxpayers who may have missed the deadline to appeal their respective valuations in 2023. In most situations, there will still be an opportunity to appeal these values for the 2024 tax year and at least attempt to ease your property tax burden until the 2025 re-assessment.

We’ve hardly finished with 2023 and I’m already discussing 2025??? Yes, indeed! As the real estate market continues to weave and bob, we are constantly assessing (no pun intended) the factors affecting real estate values and believe opportunities will continue to avail themselves in the current and upcoming valuations.

As always, I appreciate your commitment to reading my blogs – any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. You can reach me at or .

The Swartz Report: 100 Blog Posts!!!

By Donald Swartz, President

The Swartz Report: 100 Blog Posts!!! Well… we made it! This blog represents my 100th posting since becoming convinced to share anecdotes with you eight plus years ago by my friend and LinkedIn training wizard, Jason Terry. It took me a little over one year since the start of Swartz & Associates to dip my toes in the “blogging waters” but I am so pleased I’ve made the effort to share successes, thoughts, physical struggles, COVID struggles, road trips, adventures, and anything else to let you peek into a little of my life.

What a journey and what a joy!

I hope to continue to share my thoughts with you in the coming years and know when I think I need to “zig”, I will probably do a little bit of “zag”; when I become a little too business centric, time for a personal story; when I share successes, I will be cognizant of the challenges we continually face. Most importantly, I want you to read our stories because you enjoy the content and find them meaningful to you in some way. I am very appreciative of your comments and responses and have attempted to be informative (and a little entertaining??) these past years.

End of Year

As we wind down the year, I want to thank our clients for continually letting us represent your interests in the property tax world. Whether it is commercial real estate, business equipment or private railcars, I am constantly reminded how great my respective team members are in providing excellent service for you. The staff of Indurante and Swartz are unmatched in the level of experience, professionalism, and dedication to your holdings, and I take great pleasure in seeing them be successful.

2023 has been a tremendous year for both entities, and with the pipeline filling with ongoing appeals and new clients slated to come on board in 2024, I am very excited to share more successes (fingers crossed) throughout the year.

We can always be better

As they say, if you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. I will continue to strategically look at the big picture to determine what technology components can enhance our services. Will our employee base continue to grow, and will we expand into additional markets??? If the right opportunity presents itself, we cannot be afraid to explore options.

Don and David SwartzAdding David Swartz to the group was a strategic development that has paid off handsomely for us and our clients.  Adding Micah Niimoto to our Indurante team full time has given our employees a fresh way to look at the way we prepare and analyze.

Are there risks? Absolutely, but I would like to think they are calculated, and when weighing risk vs. reward, I would not hesitate to do the same again and again.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year to everyone!

We look forward to an outstanding 2024 and, as always, if you are interested in learning more about us, please reach out to me ( / ) or any of staff. We are here to help!

The Swartz Report: Interesting question… Are we the best?

Interesting question... Are we the best?By Donald Swartz, President

Recently, I met with a prospective client to discuss the aspects of handling their real estate portfolio. After engaging in the history of our company and listing of some of our clients who have similar portfolios, the prospect asked this follow up question, “Yes, but are you the best?”

The question caught me a little off guard, but only because it was posed as part of general conversation. It was not the “final question” or the climactic question to a series of questions. Rather more in line with, “how is your coffee?”

So, what is the answer?

Interesting question... Are we the best?This past week, I traveled to Las Vegas to have our planning meeting for the 2024 year with our Indurante group and then came back to Kansas City for our planning meeting with the Swartz employees. I decided this would be an excellent question to pose to each of the employee groups.

“Are we the best?” I casually inquired during the middle of each of our meetings as I was curious how everyone would respond.

Like me, collectively, they were surprised by the question and stumbled a little with their respective answers. “Well, of course we are!”, “who’s better?”, “excellent question… How did you answer?” were some of responses coming from all directions.

In short, my answer is, and will continue to be, we try to be the best we can be in representing our client’s interests. We are professional, ethical, transparent and try to be as communicative as possible to both our clients and County representatives or State governing officials we work with on a daily basis.

  • Are we the most aggressive company in our service industry? NO
  • Is our sole focus maximizing reductions without concern for the governmental entities? NO
  • Will we risk our reputation to benefit a very few? – NO

How do we define “the best”?

Interesting question... Are we the best?I believe our testimonials and client retention speak volumes to the work we provide. Our positive feedback from both clients and government officials also positively reflects on our work. I believe we have the best employees working in our respective companies and their years of service and commitment to the clients continually reinforces our mission.

I don’t know if we are the best, but we know how to take care of our clients ????

Speaking of planning meetings, chalk the 2023 meetings up to another successful series of days of positive and candid discussion to promote efficiency in our work place and continuing to provide value to our clients. Our discussions were somewhat different, as Indurante has a finite number of opportunities – there are only so many owners and managers of private railcars.

Contrast that with Swartz where the opportunity to represent owners of commercial/industrial properties and machinery/equipment is literally endless. At the end of the day, our companies are similar and our goals are the same. If we take care of our customers, the financial rewards will take care of themselves. The key is to ensure we are focused and taking care of the tasks at hand.

I will end this blog with how I started… Are we the best? Again, I believe our clients would say yes because they are happy and stay with us. If you aren’t a client, give us a chance to show you what we’re capable of doing for you! Feel free to reach out to me at or .

The Swartz Report: Celebrating 5 Years at Indurante & Associates, Inc.

By Donald Swartz, President

The Swartz Report: Celebrating 5 Years at Indurante & Associates, Inc.On September 17th, I will be celebrating the 5-year anniversary of the acquisition of Indurante & Associates, Inc. It’s truly incredible to believe it was almost seven years ago when I met with Pete Indurante to learn about his business and the potential compliment it would provide to the work Swartz & Associates, Inc. performs.

While change is always a little difficult, I believe the transition has been as smooth and seamless as I could have possibly hoped. Our core employee group of Noelle Giacomino, Kristen Canfield, Mark Philips and Emma Danielian remain with the company today, and it is truly their professionalism and dedication to the company that have made this what it is today.

That’s not to say the Indurante & Associates transition has not had its hiccups along the way…

Transitioning from a very simplistic paper system to becoming a virtually paperless company was a significant task. We’ve created a proprietary software program called Railmarx to further enhance our position as the recognized leader of property tax services to the railcar industry. (And there was the little car accident incident while taking an Uber to the office.)

These “highlights” have all had a significant impact on the development of Indurante. From the acquisition in 2018, to where it stands and competes today. Our client base has increased, our staff count has increased and the number of filings annually prepared has increased since the acquisition. Things are only looking brighter as we hope to secure two large fleets for the 2024 tax year and we will continue to enhance our Railmarx software to keep us executing in an efficient manner for our clients.

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has been a part of the Indurante journey – all my employees with Swartz and Indurante; our clients and the respective State departments we work with to ensure accuracy and timeliness. Your input has been invaluable as I continue to learn.

The Work Continues at Swartz & Associates

Let us not forget about our Swartz appeals in progress in IA, KS, MO, CO, PA and FL (to name a few of the states in which we operate.) This has been the busiest year on record for the number of properties reviewed, number of appeals filed and tax savings generated for our clients owning commercial/industrial real estate. Our business personal property compliance practice has increased as well. Gary Stone’s practice of independent fee appraisals for Machinery and Equipment continues to expand. I’m getting dizzy just writing about all these activities!

We will continue to serve and represent our clients in the manner they have learned to expect, and we look forward to a strong finish to 2023 and an active 2024 review.

As always, I am so appreciative of your business and the feedback you provide.
You can contact me at or .

The Swartz Report: Wichita in Summer? How Much Fun is That?!?

By Donald Swartz, President

Indurante Update

Wichita in the SummerYesterday, I returned from the annual Property Tax Conference in Wichita, KS. This was the 51st annual conference hosted by Wichita State University and attracts individuals from all over the country representing various State Assessor’s offices, Departments of Revenue, consultants, publicly held entities and everything in between.

The conference focuses on state and centrally assessed properties such as pipelines, utilities, telecommunications and railroads. This is a great opportunity for our Indurante office to interact with assessors and Revenue Directors face-to-face as opposed to the usual emails and phone calls. We can never underestimate the power of face-to-face interaction. There is a certain level of trust that continues to be reinforced when meeting at receptions, hospitality suites, dinner and organized evening activities. Now add in the educational content and it is easy to see why this conference is so well attended each year.

Wichita in SummerAdditionally, our company is a part of the Railway Supply Institute (RSI) Tax Committee. We carve out Tuesday afternoon during the conference to have our summer meeting. It is a fantastic way to for the major owners of private railcars to get updates on the various legislative initiatives concerning the rail industry as it relates to property tax and other tax matters. Combined, these members represent over 85% of all private railcars in use today. While several companies are considered competitors, it is refreshing to sit in a meeting to discuss issues and work together to benefit all. Clearly a takeaway we should never lose sight of.

Between this conference, the Railroad Equipment Finance Conference and the Railway Interchange Conference this fall, I believe Indurante thrives in its expertise concerning property tax valuations and continues to serve the best interests of our clients and the private railcar industry.

Swartz + Associates Update

Wichita in SummerOn the Swartz + Associates front, Jackson County has extended the deadline to appeal the 2023 valuations until July 31st. We anticipate having hundreds of appeals of commercial property parcels and this year. We have added residential properties (something we have not focused on in previous years) in an effort to support this underserved classification.

Typically, our industry does not review residential properties but we have made a concerted effort to make ourselves available to those seeking assistance in the residential community.

Wichita in SummerAs always, we are so appreciative of the support we receive from our clients and the referrals they provide. I am always pleased to hear the words that begin a conversation with, “I got your phone number from…” It is very rewarding and reinforces the work product we provide. THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

I would love to hear from you – please reach out directly to me at or .

The Swartz Report: Ducks on a Pond. Serene Above. Churning Below.

By Donald Swartz, President

Ducks on a Pond This past weekend,  my wife and attended a wedding in Winter Park, CO. During the brief time we were in the mountains, we were subjected to rain, snow, sunshine, wind, significant temperature swings and the all important tire pressure change from 40 lbs to 23 lbs in a matter of hours!

I mention these aspects because we knew these various possibilities may exist (okay – maybe the tire gauge pressure threw me for a loop????) and we were able to adapt to the current situations. Winds on the mountain summit for the ceremony? No problem, winter jackets in tow. Rain and snow as we strolled the area? Good thing we had our umbrellas. Sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, sweatshirts??? BINGO!

So, what does this have to do with Swartz and Indurante?

Ducks on a PondActually, there are many parallels. States moving from paper filings to electronic filings; appeal deadlines seemingly occurring every week whether they are county deadlines or deadlines to appeal decisions further to State Boards or Commissions; long tenured clients expanding their existing portfolios for us to review; and expanding our services to include residential reviews this year based upon 30-100% increases in their residential valuations.

The issues facing us in 2023 are unlike any we have seen in the past 15 years, but the underlying theme remains the same – we must have adaptability.

I am fortunate to have employees who have been with the two companies for several years and have the experience necessary to roll with variables and handle them swiftly and efficiently. Hopefully our clients view us as a duck on a pond. They have the confidence in our abilities to get their filings done accurately, ensure appeals are filed on time and most importantly, that we can deliver quality results, ultimately measured by minimizing their respective property tax liabilities. Our clients see this duck gliding smoothly on the water.

Underneath, I have the pleasure of watching the webbed feet churn – and churn we do! Constantly adapting to the present situations and deriving solutions to our client’s needs.

Ducks on a PondThe days are going to continue to race by as more deadlines approach. Rain or shine, we will be there to help!

Please contact us if you are concerned about any upcoming deadlines or how we can assist you and/or your company in the minimization of property tax valuations.  As always, please email me at or

Have a great summer.  We look forward to representing your interests.