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Our People

We combine the experience of a large firm with the personal attention that only a small firm can provide. Our clients come back to us year after year because they know they are in good hands. We work to develop long-term relationships; whether your needs are simple or complex, we can help.

Please take a momenent and read more about our people, our history, our credentials, our areas of specialization. If you have any questions or would like more detailed information about how we can help you, don’t hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to serve you.

Our People

diane-krueger-pirnatDiane D. Krueger-Pirnat, CPA, President
Diane holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Accounting and Business Administration, graduated Cum Laude, and has been a licensed CPA since 2001. She came on staff in 1999 with ten years of bookkeeping experience in private industry, became a shareholder in the firm in 2003, and President/Secretary in 2013. Diane has a diverse employment history that helps in her specialty areas of small business development, QuickBooks setup, and bookkeeping. She is also instrumental in the non-profit and governmental accounting and auditing area and conducting audits and tax return preparation for a variety of business entities, as well as individuals.

connor_smConnor B. Michels, EA, Vice President/Treasurer
Connor holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a minor in Business Administration as well as a “Certificate of Enrollment” to practice before the Internal Revenue Service. He joined Fort and Company as staff accountant in November 2000, became a Shareholder in 2007, and Vice President/Treasurer in 2013. His primary duties include payroll, monthly bookkeeping, individual, estate, fiduciary, and business income tax return preparation & planning, computer applications support, and audit support staff.

christine_smChristine A. Towner, CPA, Secretary
Christine graduated Magna cum laude in 2006 from the University of MN with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting with a minor in Finance. She joined Fort & Company in the summer of 2005 as an intern and in January of 2007 as a full-time staff accountant. Christine obtained her CPA license in 2009. In 2015, she became shareholder of the firm, as well as Secretary. Her primary duties include payroll, monthly bookkeeping, QuickBooks consulting, individual and business income tax preparation and planning, and audit support staff.

john-fort_smJohn W. Fort, CPA
John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and has been licensed as a CPA since 1978. He has over 30 years of experience in public accounting, auditing, all areas of tax and financial consulting. Since 1989, John managed the operations of Fort and Company and sold his share of the firm to his partners in 2013. John will continue to serve his clients through the 2015 tax year. He is a Vietnam Combat Veteran, active in the community and has served on many local boards.

victoria-arnoldyVictoria C Arnoldy, CPA
Torie graduated, with distinction, in 2009 from the University of MN, Crookston with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and a minor in ITM. She also holds an Associate of Science degree in Business Administration from Hibbing Community College. She joined Fort & Company in the summer of 2008 as an intern and as a full-time staff accountant in the summer of 2009. Torie obtained her CPA license in 2011. Her primary duties include payroll, monthly bookkeeping, and individual and business income tax preparation.

kim-m_smKim A Jarvis
Kim holds an Associate of Arts degree with an emphasis in Accounting. She has many years experience with general office duties, computer work, and bookkeeping. Kim joined the staff at Fort & Company in 1995. Her primary duties consist of all phases of payroll, gambling audits, bookkeeping, and tax return preparation.

benBenjamin R. Wilson
Ben graduated Magna cum laude in 2013 from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Accountancy degree. He joined Fort & Company in the summer of 2012 as an intern and in January of 2014 as a full-time staff accountant. His primary duties include payroll, monthly bookkeeping, individual and business income tax preparation, and audit support staff.

tracy-2009_smTracy A Oksanen
Tracy joined us in the fall of 2008 as a staff accountant in the Hibbing office. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1996 from UWS with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics education with a minor in computer science. Her primary duties include payroll, monthly bookkeeping, & income tax preparation.

laura-rusichLaura Rusich, CPA
Laura has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Kansas State University, is a CPA, and has vast experience in business and accounting. Laura is an audit manager for Fort & Company. Prior to moving back to their home town of Hibbing in 2007, Laura spent 15 years with the Big Four accounting firm, KPMG (Peat Marwick) LLP. As a Senior Manager in the audit practice of KPMG, Laura had the opportunity to work with a broad range of businesses ranging from financial institutions to manufacturing.

deb_smDeb Pearson
Deb is our office manager. She has been with Fort & Company since its Incorporation. Her primary duties include being the Firm’s bookkeeper, electronic filing of tax returns, supervision of support staff, and administrative support. Deb has many years experience in data entry, tax return assembly, customer service, and general administrative support.

kim-stirewaltKim Stirewalt
Kim joined us in 2006 and is the Office Manager at our Chisholm office. She has many years experience in all phases of public accounting support and customer service. Her primary duties include general secretarial, customer service, monthly bookkeeping, payroll, and quarterly and year-end payroll tax returns.

sandy_smSandy Hautala
Sandy joined our Hibbing office in the fall of 2006 as our secretary/receptionist. Sandy graduated with a certificate in Accounting from Mesabi Range Technical College and has many years of experience in payroll, accounts payable, and general accounting. Her primary duties include scheduling appointments, assembly of tax returns, file retention, and administrative support.

Our History

Fort & Company was incorporated in April of 1989 by John Fort, CPA, who already had over 15 years of experience in public accounting. In 2003, the firm welcomed Diane Krueger-Pirnat, CPA as a partner and expanded the practice by adding an office in Biwabik. In 2006, the firm purchased an existing practice in Chisholm as well as welcoming Connor Michels, EA as a partner to Fort & Company. In January 2013, Diane and Connor purchased the firm from John; and, in 2015, Christine Towner was added as a partner. The firm has always focused on client service and has continued to grow throughout the years, increasing the services provided and the number of full-time employees.

Our Credentials

The firm is a member of the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Our Areas of Specialization

Fort & Company, PA offers services to clients in five main areas:

  • Accounting
  • Auditing
  • Taxes
  • Management advisory services
  • Specialized accounting services

None of these areas are unique to public accounting; what makes Fort & Company, PA unique is the personal attention and service that we bring to each client.