Q&A with Bret & Angela Strong of The Strong Firm P.C. and aSTRONGcpa; The Woodlands couple discuss community, work-life balance, and future goals
THE WOODLANDS, TX — Bret and Angela Strong have built their lives around three things: family, community, and integrity. Though they were work in different fields, they are both ultimately problem solvers and prominent business owners within The Woodlands, Texas.
Bret is The founder of The Strong Firm P.C., a business law firm which he established in 2004, while Angela is a Certified Public Accountant and founder of aSTRONGcpa, a practice that she started in 2008.
Having been an active leader in The Woodlands for more than 30 years, Bret was recently appointed to the board of The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership (EDP). He previously served as Chairman for South Montgomery County Woodlands Chamber of Commerce, was a board member for both the YMCA and United Way, and became an Interfaith Hometown Hero in 2014. Amongst his many accolades emanates a kind heart and steady hand. Mentor and friend to many, he is a true north within the community.
Angela Strong is a force all her own. Her drive is fervent and her compassion is clear. Having served as Vice President Treasurer of The Chamber for many years, she is also heavily involved in the EDP. As a previous board member with Inspiration Ranch and Junior League, her dedication to causes that positively impact and transform lives is unmistakable.
Raising their children and their businesses in The Woodlands, the couple embodies the vision of Founder George Mitchell in his sentiment, “Live, Work, Play, and Learn.” Highly dedicated to finding balance between career and family, while staying true to their shared values of honesty, diligence, and altruism, the couple continues to collectively strengthen the community.
Q&A with Bret and Angela Strong
“When my small children asked me, ‘What do you do?’ It's hard to simply say what a lawyer does to a four year old, but I explain that I solve people's problems all day long - people come to me with the biggest problem they have on their mind right now, and I'm solving it … Angela and I both ended up in a service industry where we're working very closely with people in this community at high levels. We ended up doing what we love from different angles, but it’s about helping people for the long term, putting them or their business in a better position.”
“I knew at a young age I was a very black and white person. So, when I was looking at things I wanted to do, I knew I wanted to look at an industry that was based around problem solving, and creating efficiencies. I wanted to find an area where I could add value. I wanted to be the advocate for the client, I wanted to be able to improve their lives with the advice that I give, so that they feel more equipped to make a decision. There's immense fulfillment in that, in being able to say, “let me handle that for you.” A client comes in and has a lot of different pieces, whether it's their family trust, a business, an investing venture - how do all of those things fit together to create the best answer from a financial and tax perspective, given the constraints of the law? I help people get from point A to point B, and possibly find efficiencies. Now, we have an audit practice in my firm as well.”
“I grew up in a very small community in Indiana with lots of family around. My father died when I was young in a tragic car accident, so family had to be there for support. I wanted to recreate that somewhere, and thought - Where do you go, where you know the Minister at your church, and where you know the people every day when you walk into work, where can you build that sense of community? I started my career here in ’96, practicing law and built that community around what I do. That's what we focus on almost exclusively in our practice. We're about this community. We hire based on people who understand that dynamic of balance, as well as hard work, and being involved in the community.”
“I believe that God created us to be communal beings, I don't think he created us to live in isolation. We should all be acting as a cohesive supportive unit and group in the environment that we're sharing. I don't mean that in a communal socialist way, where we all split up the goods and services, I mean that in a neighborly way - that if your pipe broke at your house and you're out of town, I'll go clean that up for you, and then if I need someone to come watch my kids at the last minute, you're going to send your teenager over, a society where we all help each other out … We’re told that we can do everything on our own and I just don’t think that’s accurate. Everybody needs somebody at some point. I think it's just the way that we're designed.”
“As you get deeper and deeper in the community, you start to think about where you can make the biggest impact, and use your own personal toolbox to help those organizations in the best way you can.”
Bret and I are cut from the same cloth in that my mother was absent and Bret grew up without his father, and so, we are focused on, or drawn to children who are born into circumstances that they have no control over; who start out in an already difficult position. It's important to come alongside and provide help and support.”
The couple has five kids, three of which they share, and as they’re both working full time, “Everyday is a challenge,” as Bret put it. “We don’t have a nanny, and it's not always easy, but we make our kids a priority,” he said.
“Balance for me is a constant struggle,” Angela said. “We both try to keep our firms at a certain size that we know we can manage … I don't ever want to get so stretched, that my kids are disappointed, my husbands disappointed, my clients are disappointed, my friends are disappointed - You kind of have to make sure that, ‘Okay, I know I can handle this client base, and I know I can handle these extra curricular activities of my children … And then occasionally you'll get the monkey wrenches thrown in there and you’ve got to figure out how you're going to stick it all together, but most of the time it works. And the busier we get, the more resources we have to pull to help us.”
While Bret and Angela both agree that they want to keep the personal touch within their growing businesses, the next ten years or so look different for each.
“I’ve been in this community 31 years,” Bret said, as he discussed his future role within The Strong Firm. He plans to become a mentor to the younger generation, to give valued guidance. “I really enjoy bringing young people up, and showing them how we do things at our firm. As you see those people start to take leadership roles, my role will change,” he said. “The firm will always be an integral part of this community, and that's what people can count on from us.”
“I think it's very important that people recognize how that role is vital to a community,” Angela noted. “That if you are placed in a position where people know who you are, and they know what you're about, that needs to be handled with care, and it needs to be guarded … So many people struggle to find somebody to look up to in this environment, someone who can be trusted not to waver in opinion depending on who's in the room, and Bret is that person - it’s admirable, and it's one of the things I love the most about him. He’s the same friend to everyone, and the same mentor, whether you're working for him, or your his child, or your his client, or he's working for you,” she said.
“If someone describes Brett Strong, or someone describes Angela Strong, or we've even said if someone describes Luke Strong, who's nine, it needs to be the same. Now their perspective may be different, but it should be, ‘Oh, they’re always kind, and they’re always helpful, and they’re always honest. That should be universal.”
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