Experience the Moravian Effect
Bob Thear '98
Small Business Owner, High School Cross Country Coach
Throughout the semester, Inside Moravian tells the story of one of Moravian’s alums who exemplify what we call the Moravian Effect. The added value from their Moravian experience is created through Moravian’s emphasis on strong, personalized majors, hands-on learning opportunities, and encouragement of a deeper enjoyment of life—which is nurtured by engaged faculty and alumni. Surveys of our graduates show that these qualities help them grow in four years into focused adults who succeed and excel in an increasingly challenging world.
Still Keeping a Brisk Pace
Looking back, Bob Thear ‘98 can laugh at the situation, but it wasn’t exactly funny at the time. As an auditor, he’d walk into someone’s office ready to help with their financial situation, and their demeanor would instantly change.
Suddenly, they’d tense up. Their answers would become closely guarded. They were worried he was going to get them in trouble.
“Nobody really liked to see me,” Bob laughs. “I felt like it was pulling teeth. I’d have a short conversation with them, but eventually they’d say, ‘Oh, that wasn’t that bad.’ I don’t know what they were expecting. I wasn’t out there to get them.”
These experiences made Thear realize this wasn’t what he wanted out of his career. He knew he wasn’t the bad guy, but he couldn’t help feeling that way. Plus, working in a larger company, he felt like he couldn’t see the results of his efforts.
In his search for a more fulfilling job opportunity, Thear looked to his peers. One of his close friends had gotten in on the ground level of a small business and enjoyed the work. As one of just a handful of employees in the company, their long hours and dedication made an impact on whether the business succeeded or failed.
“It kind of just re-lit the fire in me,” Bob says.
When Thear was at Moravian College, Accounting Professor John D. Rossi III told him and his classmates to get their Certified Public Accounting license as soon as they graduated. This would give them the flexibility they needed to rise in the corporate environment or go into business for themselves. Thear listened to Rossi and thought perhaps now was the time to take advantage of that flexibility.
With his CPA, Thear quit his job as an auditor and started an accounting business in Bethlehem. He did taxes and bookkeeping for friends and other small business owners like himself. That was three years ago and his business is still going strong.
“I can’t believe it’s been that long already,” Bob explains. “It’s fantastic. I really like working for myself. I like the fact that if I put in a lot of extra work, time and effort into it, it does directly benefit me.”
Moravian gives you the tools to be successful, but it’s ultimately up to you, your ambition, and what you want to do in your career."
– Bob Thear '98
Thear offers personal service to his clients that they don’t get from larger companies. He walks clients through each of their options and shows them how each choice will affect the end result. “Ultimately I’ll leave the decision up to them so it’s a little more personal and they get a little more information,” Bob says. “I’ve asked them for their opinion.”
Longtime friend Patrick Egan ’97 says Thear has the perfect disposition for a small business owner. “He’s a very positive person. I think he relates well to people,” Egan says. “That’s a great personality to have.”
Thear’s success with his small accounting business encouraged him to open another small business venture. He recently purchased a bread delivery route where he schedules orders and delivers bread to area businesses. The work is invigorating.
“My day has never gone so fast,” he says. “It’s always one store to the next, putting bread on the shelf and taking it off.”
Perhaps the best part of owning two small businesses is that Thear has the freedom to explore another passion: coaching. Bob was a member of the Moravian track and cross country teams as an undergraduate, and his flexible schedule allows him to coach cross country at his former high school, Bethlehem’s Freedom High. His coaching results speak for themselves. In his first two years as coach, Bob’s teams have won two conference championships. While the wins are nice, Thear truly enjoys the work with young people.
Looking at his weekly schedule, Thear can’t help but chuckle. He stays busy, but it’s not an uncommon trait for Moravian graduates, he says. The College challenges its students to become self-starters.
“Moravian gives you the tools to be successful, but it’s ultimately up to you, your ambition, and what you want to do in your career,” Bob explains “The College prepares you to do whatever you want and strive to be whatever you want to be.”
This article will appear in the Winter 2014 issue of Moravian College's alumni magazine.
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