Bricklayers Do Far More than Lay Bricks

  • January 28, 2014

There are bricks, and then there are Bricks...

Have you heard the old tale about the woman walking down the street who comes upon a man hunched over on the ground, apparently doing some work? She asks the man, "What is that you are doing?" The man replies, "Laying a brick." Curious, she sees another man, apparently laying another brick, and again pauses to ask, "What are you doing?" This man, doing the same work as the first, replies that he is "building a wall." A few dozen feet further down the street the woman comes to a third man, laying a brick in the same manner as the first two. She asks the third man, "What are you doing?" To which he replies, "Building a Cathedral."

Our purpose gives our work meaning and significance.

At Vertex, we have people who research tax rates, scan tax forms and write software. These are the "bricks we lay." Together, our combined effort is to apply tax research and software development to meet clients' needs. Ultimately providing large corporations solutions to comply with tax requirements on a global basis, at the lowest possible cost and the least amount of risk. One might think of these solutions and their benefits as our "wall of bricks."

But if we really step back and consider the purpose of the entire company's efforts over the span of decades, and we have been at this for nearly four of them, one sees a different picture. Ultimately, our efforts not only enable corporations to sustain the confidence of the public, investors and customers, but also support the increasing allocation of resources to core R&D rather than the overhead of tax administration. And, when you think about what core R&D at the world's largest, most impactful corporations means for the pace of innovation that powers our quality of life...well, you can see our "Cathedral." Strong tax process means less risk, more confidence and greater investment in the innovation that enables both stronger corporate performance and better products and services that touch lives.

Our mission, the reason our company exists, is to “Unleash the Strategic Potential of Corporate Tax Worldwide.” When you step back and think about it, tax process integrity is as essential to a thriving economy and society as accurate financial reporting itself.

Some see Bricks, we see the Cathedral.

Please remember that the Tax Matters provides information for educational purposes, not specific tax or legal advice. Always consult a qualified tax or legal advisor before taking any action based on this information.

About this Contributor

Jeff Westphal Headshot
Jeff Westphal

Jeff Westphal is co-owner of Vertex and serves on the Vertex Board of Directors. In 1988, he joined the company founded by his father, Ray Westphal. During his tenure, he has served as Director of Marketing, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and later as Executive Vice President. He was promoted to President in 1996 and to Chief Executive Officer in 2001. Under Jeff's stewardship, Vertex has established consulting and implementation service offerings, established European and Brazilian operations, and expanded to become the global leader in Enterprise Tax Performance solutions. During his tenure, Vertex was also awarded one of the "Top Workplaces" in the Delaware Valley and "The Best Place to Work in Pennsylvania.”

Since its start in 1978, Vertex has grown to around 900 professionals at its headquarters in the U.S. (King of Prussia, PA) and its global offices in Europe (London), Brazil (São Paulo), Dallas, Fort Collins, Naperville, Phoenix, San Francisco, Sarasota, and Seattle. Jeff is a member of the Institute for Professionals in Taxation (IPT), World Presidents' Organization (WPO), the Conference Board, where he currently serves as Chairman of the Middle Market Executive Council and is also a frequent speaker to business and community organizations.

Jeff served as Chairman of the Board of Open Connections, Inc. (a not-for-profit open educational organization) for 15 years and remains a trustee. In addition, he is Co-founder with his wife, Jenifer, of Kyle's Treehouse, (, a web-based resource for families seeking hope and guidance for the treatment of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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