“There is something about being a twin: you always have a friend for life, no matter what.”

This is according to Tom Duffy (’81, accounting) about his identical twin brother, Tim (’79, accounting), who is the oldest by two minutes.

In addition to both Duffys having accounting degrees from San Diego State, they are “both left-handed and sound very similar on the phone,” said Tim. They also both met their wives at San Diego State, with Tim marrying Janet Applegate (’81, geography) and Tom marrying Anne Pettit, who attended, and played volleyball, for SDSU in the late 70’s.

duff bros
Tom Duffy (left) and Tim Duffy (right) stand in front of Tim’s diploma from SDSU

Choosing SDSU

Before coming to SDSU, the two grew up in Connecticut until they moved with their family to Southern California in the late 60’s. After graduating from Taft High School in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County, Tim attended a community college near the family home. He chose to transfer to SDSU in order to “live on my own”. “Going to San Diego State was the best choice of my life,” he said. “The students and faculty were exciting. Living with roommates, studying, working and making a lot of life choices at an early adult age was awesome.”

Several factors influenced Tim’s decision to pursue his SDSU accounting degree, among them a magazine article discussing accounting as a top profession, his mother’s bookkeeping career, and some early classes which got him “hooked on the learning experience” that carried over into his academic career at SDSU.

It was Tim that influenced Tom to follow him both to SDSU and into the field of accounting. “Tim was responsible for getting me into accounting and I really connected with the numbers,” Tom recalled. “Little did I know that 34 years later, I would still be doing it and loving it.”

Finding Their Niche

"Going to San Diego State was the best choice of my life."
- Tim Duffy

After graduation, both Tim and Tom sat for, and passed, the California CPA exam and they settled into careers and raising families. But after working as a non-equity partner in a firm for several years, Tom and a business partner chose to take a monumental risk by founding their own firm, Duffy, Kruspodin & Company in Encino, California in 1989.

As with almost all new small businesses, the firm had a lean launch before it found its footings. “We had a very humble beginning and struggled our first three years,” said Tom. “Gradually, we managed to develop our system of controls, strengthen our knowledge, provide timely service to our customers and continue to apply ourselves 120 percent to each challenge that came through the door.”

Meanwhile, Tim was working for a large publicly-held real estate company in San Diego where he was eventually promoted to a vice president position. Once the company was sold, he had to refocus his career goals.

Finding Success Together

Ironically, the sale of Tim’s former company and the acquisition of a CPA firm in the San Diego area by both twins in 1995, served as the catalyst to bring Tim into Duffy, Kruspodin & Company as a partner and back to his CPA roots.

Since then, the firm has either purchased or merged with 16 other firms and is in the process of acquiring two more. Currently, Duffy, Kruspodin & Company has four offices in Southern California with 87 total employees, including 10 partners and 33 CPAs.

In 2015, the American Institute of CPAs notified the firm that they were among the top 500 largest firms in the nation and one of the industry’s prime publications, Accounting Today, ranked Duffy, Kruspodin & Company number 25 among top midsized organizations in the United States.

SDSU’s Impact

The Duffys are quick to attribute much of their success to their education at SDSU. “When I started the business, I literally wore out my text books from San Diego State,” said Tom. “I still have them on the shelf in my office as a reminder of where I started and what helped propel me in my quest to launch a successful firm.”

And for those SDSU accounting students who are still pursuing their degrees, both brothers feel that an internship is worth the effort. “Get involved in an internship and see the workings of your profession from the inside,” advises Tom. Tim concurs with that message, saying “We do a lot of hiring of interns and they bring a lot of infectious energy. So go out and try your chosen profession while you’re still in school, find out if it fits your expectations and dream big!”