Q & A with NANA Employees

A Conversation with Larry Snider, Tax Manager for NANA Development Corporation

This is part of a series of interviews to learn more about our diverse employees throughout the NANA family.

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Larry Snider came to work for NANA in 2014. Before that, he worked at KPMG, the Walt Disney Company, and Trader Joe’s.

 

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Bedford, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth. It’s about midway between Dallas and Fort Worth.

What was your first job?

I was a paperboy when I was in middle school. After school, I delivered the afternoon paper on my bicycle.

Who has inspired you?

My mom and dad. Mom was always there for us. She taught us to follow the Golden Rule, to treat people right. Dad taught us discipline, integrity, and hard work. He served in World War II and saw a lot of action. He was at D-Day (the Normandy landings) and at the Battle of the Bulge (on the Western Front in Europe). I got my work ethic from him.

What lessons have you learned?

The thing I try to do is work hard and treat all people with respect. If you do that, things tend to work out pretty well.

Where did you study or train?

When I was 17, I moved to Los Angeles to go to Glendale Community College. I got my degree in accounting at Cal State LA (California State University, Los Angeles).

With a business degree in accounting, you can go in two directions—audit or tax. I chose tax.

Right out of school, I went to work for KPMG. (KPMG is one of the “big four” auditors. Headquartered in Amsterdam, KPMG employs 189,000 people worldwide. It has three lines of services: financial audit, tax, and advisory.) While I worked full time, I got my Master of Business Taxation degree from USC (University of Southern California) and KPMG paid for it.

Where did you work after KPMG?

I worked for the Walt Disney Company in their tax department. It was great experience, but hard work. Everyone in my department came from big accounting firms, so it was like working for another big accounting firm.

Disney had over a hundred subsidiaries (including Disney, ABC television network, ESPN, Pixar, and Lucasfilm) and a lot of different projects. So there were lots of interesting things going on. There was synergy between all the business units—between the entertainment experiences, stories, characters, and the related product.

One of my projects was to outline what-if scenarios. What if Disney opened a theme park in Virginia? What would the estimated income and loss numbers be five years out? How would we utilize those losses? There was a code name for the top-secret project, but news got out. They didn’t go through with “Disney America” because of pushback from wealthy landowners in the area, including Jack Cooke who owned the Los Angeles Lakers and the Washington Redskins.

After Disney?

After two years at Disney, I went to work for Trader Joe’s (a privately-held grocery store chain). During the nine years I worked there managing the tax department, revenues grew from $1 billion to $5 billion a year, and they expanded from 100 to 300 stores.

Part of their popularity is because Trader Joe’s tries to source goods as close to their stores as they can, to reflect the tastes of the communities served. (A Facebook campaign is trying to persuade them to open a store in Anchorage.)

From Trader Joe’s, I went to work for Stater Bros. Markets, the largest privately-owned supermarket chain in Southern California. I was the assistant controller. I prepared and reviewed the financial statements and the consolidated tax returns—and I managed the sales and property tax audits.

Why NANA?

My wife and I were set on moving to Alaska. Before I went to Disney, I interviewed at Arco. They told me an 18-month rotation was to be expected, either in Denver, Philadelphia or Anchorage. That got me thinking about Anchorage, all those years ago.

What do you think of Alaska?

It’s better than I ever thought it might be. L.A. is expensive and congested. Anchorage is also expensive, but without the sticker shock and with a much shorter commute.

Our first two winters were mild. We were a little disappointed that there was hardly any snow. Maybe that was a good way for us to get acclimated. Last winter, we were ready for it.

What do you like best about working at NANA?

I get to work with a lot of individuals, at NANA and our companies. We prepare the consolidated federal income tax returns, with a lot of help from Akima subsidiaries’ tax department.

This is what I really hoped for at this part of my career—to work with good people in a good place.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

It’s super-pretty up here. Summers are great.

Clarence Snyder (of NANA’s Anchorage office) has taught me how to fly fish. We’ve gone out on the Russian River, Montana Creek, and local lakes. We just finished ice fishing for the season.

I work with Karen Tripplet (in NANA’s Kotzebue office) and I’ve seen photos of her with sheefish nearly as tall as she is. (Sheefish, a whitefish, might grow up to 40 pounds in the Arctic and may live over 20 years.) I want to go up there.

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Larry Snider was interviewed by Carol Richards, Director of Brand Communications for NANA Development Corporation.