Richard Hendershot

Abundant Faith

One day in 1983, Rick Hendershot had a light bulb moment. After six years working as the Controller of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative public policy institute, he realized how frequently he fielded calls from other not-for-profits looking for referrals for tax assistance, audit services, or basic accounting. Normally, he would refer them to Deloitte & Touche if they were a larger firm or to a local company if they were smaller. But on that day, Rick, a certified public accountant licensed in three states, recognized an opportunity and a way to supplement his income by providing accounting services outside of his full-time position. In other words, his entrepreneurial eye saw a need begging to be filled.

Nine years later the sideline business had grown steadily. Rick even had two people working for him full-time. Although net revenues were substantially lower than his salary from his full-time job at Heritage, Rick decided it was time to take the leap.

“I would be moving to a position that paid less, offered no insurance, and provided few employee benefits, so there was some hesitation,” Rick recalls. “But I felt the Lord was leading me. I prayed about it and had a lot of discussions with my wife.”

Once he stepped out to lead his business full-time, Rick knew he made the right choice and never had second thoughts about the decision.

Today, as president, founder, and owner of Hendershot Burkhardt & Reed, a Manassas-based CPA firm, he provides professional accounting, auditing and tax services, strategic business planning, and consulting to a wide range of non-profit and corporate organizations.

Hitting the ground running, he used his tenure at Heritage to tap into the professional
connections he had made in the non-profit sector.

“I knew a lot of people, so for the first two months I focused on setting up meetings introducing my business, specifically targeting smaller non-profits.”

Not long after going full-time, Rick received a call from his former employer asking him to come back as a consultant during their busy budget and audit season. He contracted with them for six months.

“It was a nice solution, especially since my rates were higher than my previous salary and benefits package.”

In an interesting twist of fate, one of Rick’s first organizational clients was Freedom Alliance, a non-profit founded by Oliver North, who was at the center of national attention in the Iran-Contra political scandal in the late 1980’s.

“I went from representing a conservative policy organization to representing one of the most controversial figures in the United States,” Rick laughs. “I knew every financial statement, every audit, every note, every Form 990 was going to be highly scrutinized.”

It turned out to be a non-issue because of Ricks’ sterling reputation and the quality of his work spoke for itself. He soon added several conservative non-profits to his growing client list.

The business continued to expand, and later he acquired a small tax and bookkeeping business from a member of Rick’s church, who was retiring.

“The owner agreed to work with us for three years during the transition,” says Rick “and he still works with us as a sub-contractor, fifteen years later.”

Born in Akron, Ohio, Rick was seven years old when his family moved to northern Virginia so his father, a carpenter in the building construction, could find more plentiful work. His mother was a secretary who later became a bookkeeper.

“Both my parents worked very hard,” Rick says proudly. “My outlook on life and the way I run my business really did come from my parents. My mom was extremely competitive, that’s where I get my competitive edge. My dad was a sergeant in the Army and he taught me to be faithful to the task at hand; to be a very hard worker, to get it done right and to get it done on time.”

In junior high school, Rick knew that he would go into accounting. At that time, his mom handled the financial records for the mayor of Manassas, Virginia and Rick found it totally fascinating. He really enjoyed talking with her about the work she was doing and learning about “keeping the books”.

But Rick also had aspirations of playing professional baseball. During college, his entrepreneurial leanings spurred him to initiate the formation and administration of the first baseball team in the history of Strayer University. In his junior year, he also tried out for the former Washington Senators. He didn’t get into the majors and decided to focus on finishing his accounting degree.

After graduating from Strayer, Rick attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, pursuing a master’s in Christian Education. In grad school, he worked at Pepsi Cola moving up to the position of assistant controller. He also met his future wife, Libby, while attending Liberty University.

With a master’s in hand, Rick accepted a position teaching high school accounting and bible courses in Florida. After a few years, they returned to Lynchburg and he was invited to oversee the accounting in a government job skills training program. When that program was audited a few years later, the partner of the firm in charge of the auditing was so impressed that he asked Rick to come work with them.

“That’s how I got my feet into public accounting,” he muses. “That was when I sat for the CPA exam.”

In his new job, Rick was required to travel frequently. Two years in, his son was born so he began looking for a job that would keep him closer to home and applied for a position with The Heritage Foundation.

“I knew family had to come before a job,” Rick states, “my parent’s instilled Godly truth in me.”

Rick’s first wife, Libby, had a tremendous influence on him, “She literally changed my life,” he shares, “she had the spiritual gift of giving. She gave her time, her money, her resources, her talents, and was the most giving person I’ve known.”

Unfortunately, in 2006 Libby fell ill one night and as they were preparing to go to the emergency room, she died from an aneurysm. Rick was devastated, but even in grief he held onto his faith, ministering to his son and to Libby’s family to help them through their heartrending time.

Her passing didn’t really hit him until a few weeks later. Libby was gone, and so were all of their dreams and plans. It was then that Rick realized even more the insignificance of material things. In that pivotal moment he also made a choice.

“There were two roads I could have taken, one of despair and gloom with no joy in life or one that recognized that there’s still a lot I can do, a lot of lives that I can still touch.”

Over the course of the next few years, Rick dedicated himself even more to making a difference, honoring Libby’s caring spirit.

It was during this time that he met another woman with a heart for giving, Serena, who would later become his second wife.

Not only did Libby and Serena influence Rick personally, they also had an impact on his business practices. Hendershot Burkhardt & Reed gives regularly to Christian-based ministries and community organizations such as the Hospital Foundation, CASA, The Rotary Club, a homeless shelter in Manassas, and other efforts. Approximately 20% of the company’s net profits are donated so lives can be changed.

“We started Concerned Christians for America, a non-profit which provides benevolence and scholarships.”

“My partners agreed with me our best strategy for success has been giving back to the community. One partner is treasurer of the Red Cross in Manassas. The other has started many churches. Personally, Rick has served on the board of the Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Prince William, The Prince William Hospital Foundation and The Rotary Club, to name a few. We not only want to make a difference in our own lives and in our families’ lives, but to make a difference in our community. That’s how we’ve grown the business and it’s been pretty amazing.”

Rick also gives back through his alma mater and for the past 15 years has taught accounting at Strayer University. He also teaches comparative religion, a topic that’s close to his heart.

“The average student at Strayer is 32 or 33 years old. Many are looking for a new career or to upgrade their skills, and I can make a difference in their lives,” he says.

In fact, Rick often gets phone calls and emails from students thanking him when they get a new job or a promotion or pass their CPA exam.

“Both worlds just bridged together. It’s fun, it’s a blast and at the end of the day I can say ‘you’re making a difference.’ There’s nothing better than that. I enjoy life, enjoy my family, and love my Lord.”

Rick’s counsel for having a blessed life is threefold. First, be true to Christ and don’t settle for anything less than your idea of what is perfect. Second, he offers the advice he received from his mother who told him that there would always be obstacles, but to never let them stop you because there are always solutions. And lastly, Rick suggests that you find a career that brings you great joy and makes a real difference.

Making a difference in the lives of others, Rick, shows just how far his principles of hard work and compassion have taken him. A faithful steward, Rick gives back with a prayerful attitude. A loving father, husband and a very good person, Rick reflects the epitome of abundant faith.

Richard Hendershot

Gordon J Bernhardt


President and founder of Bernhardt Wealth Management and author of Profiles in Success: Inspiration from Executive Leaders in the Washington D.C. Area. Gordon provides financial planning and wealth management services to affluent individuals, families and business owners throughout the Washington, DC area. Since establishing his firm in 1994, he and his team have been focused on providing high quality service and independent financial advice to help clients make informed decisions about their money.

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