Moran Takes The Helm

March 17, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — Lou Moran has the new title of managing partner for Deloitte’s Grand Rapids office, but he has been with the company so long it could almost be a slogan: Great new title, same familiar Lou.

Moran’s career started in 1981 when the company was known as Touche Ross, before its merger in 1989 with Deloitte Haskins Sells. He began as part of the audit staff in the company’s Detroit office, and then moved to the tax area of the firm in 1983.

In the late 1980s, Moran left the firm to test his hand in real estate.

“I was going to be a real estate baron,” he said.

But Moran was back with Deloitte within a year. He made partner in 1995 and was transferred to Grand Rapids in 1997. Six months after his transfer, he was named office tax manager.

At the end of 2002, Moran faced a tough decision: whether to stay in Grand Rapids or become tax managing partner for the company’s Cleveland office.

“It was a bigger practice, bigger office and bigger city. It was a move up,” he said. “At the same time, we had attracted some good new clients to the practice here.”

Name: Lou Moran
Company: Deloitte LLP
Title: Managing Partner, Grand Rapids office
Age: 49
Birthplace: Portland, Ore.
Family/Personal: Wife, Nancy; children Shannon, Louie and Colin
Biggest Career Break: Becoming the practice leader for the tax group in Grand Rapids: “That was an opportunity to manage a practice. Had I stayed in Detroit, I would have continued to be one of many partners. I wouldn’t have been given a leadership role. That led to leading a bigger practice in Cleveland, and now leading the whole office here.”

In the end, he served as tax manager in Grand Rapids as well as Cleveland. Moran, his wife, Nancy, and his three children, Shannon, Louie and Colin, moved to Cleveland, while Moran traveled back and forth between the two offices. After about a year and a half, Moran sat down with his boss at the time and asked to be assigned either to Grand Rapids or to Cleveland full time.

Deloitte chose Grand Rapids, and Moran and his family moved back to West Michigan in the fall of 2004. He continued his responsibilities as tax managing partner and also played an instrumental role in bringing the national Strategic Relationship Program to the Grand Rapids office.

“For strategic clients, where we service across a broad range of services, we try to have a lead client service partner that’s a focal point, so there’s somebody that’s kind of the quarterback or the head coach on that service team,” said Moran. “I came back to West Michigan to be that head coach, that quarterback, for the strategic relationship clients that we have in West Michigan.”

Moran held this role until his recent promotion to the position previously held by Mary Ellen Rodgers, who was promoted to Deloitte’s U.S. managing partner of field operations.

“Lou is uniquely qualified to lead our Grand Rapids practice as my successor,” said Rodgers. “He understands both the local business community and the issues shaping today’s economy.”

Moran commented on how he sees the local business community:

“I think it’s a very dynamic entrepreneurial business climate — always has been — and I think we’re going to see that continue around all the activity that’s going up on Health Hill in the life sciences area.”

He said the business community is still trying to “get our hands around” what the new economic activity in the life sciences means, but he is optimistic it will breed opportunities and that Deloitte can play a big part.

“One of my jobs as managing partner is we, Deloitte, have a very strong global life science practice, a tremendous depth of resources, and one of my jobs is to bring those resources that we have to West Michigan and deliver those global resources locally. That is one of the primary things that I will be focused on in the future.”

Part of Moran’s understanding of the local business community came from his father, Justin L. Moran, who Moran recalls as always speaking very highly of the entrepreneurial spirit of West Michigan. Moran described his father as an independent banking consultant best known for his work as the spokesman for the Michigan Bankers Association, and a “closet accountant” at heart. He was the main influence behind Moran’s decision to go into accounting, which came after his first dream of playing football for Notre Dame and the Detroit Lions, a dream that died after his freshman year of high school.

“It was pretty clear to me by that time I wasn’t getting a football scholarship to Notre Dame after all.”

However, he did attend the University of Notre Dame, continuing a long family tradition that his daughter Shannon, 18, is looking to break by going to MIT. Moran received his BBA in accounting from Notre Dame and graduated with honors.

Although his football dreams were laid to rest, Moran has stayed active in sports through sailing. Growing up in Grosse Pointe, Moran was just a few minutes from Lake St. Clair, where he learned to sail. After leaving Grosse Pointe, he continued to sail and then started to race.

In 1986, Moran joined the crew of a boat named “Midtown” in the Chicago to Mackinac Yacht Race. Moran recalls that when they hit the turning point of Mackinac Island, the crew was informed they were in first place and poised to win the race.

Reporters from Chicago came to interview the crew, and that night they enjoyed a celebratory dinner. The next morning, the crew woke up to find two smaller boats had passed them while they were sleeping. They finished first in their class and third overall.

But Moran came away from that race with something much better than first place. It was the night before that race that he met his wife, Nancy, who was helping a friend sell T-shirts to raise money for charity.

Moran now has a boat of his own, Irish Wake, but only enters about two races per year. Still, the boat gets plenty of use on weekends spent with his family. Even though Grand Rapids is a bit further away from water than Grosse Pointe, Moran is happy to be back in West Michigan.

“I’m excited to be here in West Michigan. I want to be here in West Michigan, and I’m charged up about the opportunity,” he said. “It’s provided me the opportunity to work with great people, great clients. Every day is a little different.”

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