In life, there are many defining moments — occasions where a person's life has been undeniably changed — a birth, death, a marriage or divorce, purchasing a home, or even a first kiss. For Ranier “Ray” Westphal, founder of Vertex, his defining moment began in, of all places, the unemployment line after being abruptly laid off from his consulting job in 1969.
Following that pivotal day, the then 34-year-old husband and father of three began working at a new company, helping develop a lease accounting system with a corporate tax rate table feature. However, the unit was struggling, and with another lay off looming, he and his wife, Antoinette took a risk — that the tax rate table was a niche opportunity to meet an unmet corporate need. It paid off— Ray started Vertex Inc. in 1978, with one employee, a second mortgage, and an admirable amount of determination. As a startup in Berwyn, Pennsylvania conducting business from a dining room table to the trusted global brand it is today, Ray and Antoinette’s vision for this company has truly blossomed into something spectacular.
He was a visionary who, in the late 1980s, pioneered corporate tax software and had the foresight to develop a recurring SaaS-like revenue model that still drives the business today. For twenty years, Ray led Vertex, creating one of the first true outsourcing companies in the United States. His approach to our work and our culture continues to have a profound impact on our success. Today, we are the leading public corporate tax compliance technology company in the world serving over half of the Fortune 500, employing thousands and serving countless others, all for the betterment of global commerce.
His retirement was spent taking great joy in the simple pleasures life has to offer, surrounded by family and loved ones. All of these precious moments taking place long past that pivotal day when he was standing in the unemployment line.
Ray Westphal’s resilience in the face of adversity led to building a lasting legacy — impacting not only those that knew and loved him, but the way companies around the world do business. We will be forever grateful for his impact on our values and culture at Vertex — never forgetting the importance of fun, curiosity, and kindness in all aspects of our work.