Don Driftmier '68, Accounting
Senior Partner at Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co., LLP
|The Ontario Chamber of Commerce set up the Donald A. Driftmier Scholarship Foundation, which recently awarded $2,000 in scholarships to students from Ontario high schools.
Students often wonder how to parlay their college degrees into successful lives. College of Business Administration alumnus Don Driftmier ('68, accounting) has the answer. Success, in his words, is a happy homelife, faith in a higher power, and a employment in a job that he loves. As a senior partner at a highly regarded accounting firm, Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co., LLP, Driftmier cites an amazing 33 years at the same firm as the business accomplishment he is most proud of.
"Now, that's something," he says. "When I first started with the firm, there were only 17 people in the Ontario office. Now we are listed in Public Accounting Report as the 77th largest firm in the U.S., the 4th largest in firm space in California, and we have six offices, 185 employees and 26 partners. It's been quite a ride."
The ride began in the 1960s when Vietnam was on every student's mind. Driftmier notes that although Cal Poly Pomona was fairly conservative and had few demonstrations, the student body was acutely aware of the political situation. Indeed, immediately after completing his bachelor's degree in accounting, he enlisted in the Army. His college degree did not come into play in Vietnam and Driftmier shipped out as infantry, serving as an advisor for a South Vietnamese infantry unit. When he returned to Southern California in 1971, he was completely out of touch with the accounting world. What happened next is an example of mentoring in its purest form.
"When I interviewed with the large firms, the guys I spoke to were my age and hadn't gone into the service for whatever reason. When they found out what I had been doing for the last three years, the conversation kind of faltered," says Driftmier. "But Clarence Jackman, a Cal Poly Pomona faculty member, called me at home and sent me to Vavrinek, Trine & Day."
The interview went extremely well. Trine was a Navy veteran, and Vavrinek and Day were Army veterans. Driftmier was offered a position with the firm. He has been there for 33 years and counting, providing tax planning and preparation for people ranging from college students to multi-million dollar businesses. In addition to the work he accomplishes in the office, he also performs numerous community service tasks.
"I'm extremely active with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and have served on numerous advisory boards throughout the area," says Driftmier. "One cause very close to my heart is Casa Colina Hospital, where I have been on the board since 1984. I assist with fundraising and the charitable remainder trust which has, in the past 20 years, grown to more than $60 million."
Still, Driftmier states that he never would have found his place at Vavrinek, Trine & Day without the support of the Cal Poly Pomona accounting faculty. He maintains close friendships with Barry Knight, who was a rookie instructor in 1964 and the advisor for the accounting club through which Driftmier met his wife, Marilyn, also an accounting graduate. He, along with Knight, was inducted into the Cal Poly Pomona Accounting Hall of Fame in 1989. Driftmier's business acumen is also acknowledged on a larger stage. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently appointed him to the California State Board of Accountancy. As such, Driftmier is one of just 15 members (eight non-CPAs and seven CPAs) and was selected from more than 200 applicants.
"It's a huge honor," he says. "My mission is to provide the very best representation for consumers in the State of California."