When Jay Howard Rossin’s fraternity brother and CPA exam study partner suggested starting their own business in 1962, Jay had to think about it. The accounting firm where they’d both begun their careers was, as he described it, a good place to learn how not to run a business. He wasn’t earning much, but starting their own place could mean no income for a while.
Yet they embarked together to build Kaufman, Rossin & Co., the enterprise that, 55 years later, is one of the top CPA firms in the country and remains true to their original intention: to create a place where they could make a living and enjoy coming to work.
Jay described accounting as “essentially a people business combined with a numbers discipline.” In the early days the goal was just to get clients – not to assess their capacity to pay, not question the viability of their operations, just to get clients through the door. The firm’s first office, though windowless, was in a good location near the courthouse. Accountants weren’t permitted to advertise, so relationships were the way to build the practice, and Jay used the skills that had helped him recruit Pi Lam pledges, getting to know the shopkeepers on Flagler and passing out cards. He wrote “I used to do 1040’s for dinners. As these 1040 clients started their businesses, the dinners were replaced by billings. Oh, how I miss those dinners.”
Jay Howard Rossin was born in Ohio and raised in Miami. He attended Miami High, and then the University of Florida. At Gainesville he earned much more than an accounting degree: his Pi Lam fraternity brothers became his loyal, lifelong friends. They were his poker buddies, biking partners, handball opponents, and dining companions. They were Bull Gators together, supporting the team and travelling together to games. They created the Corned Beef Club, whose members brought Carnegie Deli takeout to Miami to share after any trip to New York City. And many of them became his most valued clients.
“Jay was a tremendous partner,” says James R. Kaufman, his co-founder and lifelong friend, “bringing true caring to the relationships with his clients and colleagues. From the time he rushed me to join the fraternity, through our late nights studying for the exam, and then the decades building the firm together, he created enduring friendships and connections with us all.”
A dedicated member of his community, Jay pledged his time and resources to numerous charities. He served as a committee member of many South Florida organizations, and a Board Member and Treasurer of Temple Beth Am and the Steve and Mary Alper JCC. In 1999 he was honored with the Harry Gunther Service Award for going above and beyond in service to Temple Beth Am.
Jay died on June 29, 2018, after a long illness. He is survived by his sister, Charlene Edwards, his children Michael Rossin, Marjory Gross, Abby Epperson, and Matthew Rossin, and seven grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, July 8th, at 1 p.m. at Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest.