David Clothier '88

 

Major

Accounting

 

Favorite Course

 

Intermediate Accounting

 

Favorite Professor

 

Mr. Walt Jahncke



David with his wife Suzanne,
daughter Hannah, and son Davis.
David Clothier chose his major one sunny afternoon at Bryan College when he was headed to the soccer fields and stopped by a professor's office to take an accounting test. In twenty minutes, he had aced the test and was back on his way to soccer practice. After that, David knew Accounting was the major for him. "Business is too vague. You don't understand business until you account for it," he quipped.

David completed his degree, returned to his hometown – Knoxville, Tenn. – and garnered an interview with Coopers & Lybrand, a “Big Six” accounting firm. "They didn't usually do interviews with kids who didn't graduate from UT (the University of Tennessee) or Vandy (Vanderbilt)," David explained. Nevertheless, David got the job and stayed at Coopers & Lybrand for four years, eventually working his way up to manager.

He credits the liberal arts part of his education with helping prepare him for his career. "The ability to write and communicate is huge in the business world," David said. "Even though I hated speech class at the time, it was a good experience." During this time, he married Suzanne, his sweetheart since the eighth grade.

David playing indoor soccer. He also coaches soccer for FC Alliance, a local competitive soccer club in Knoxville.
 
In 1992, David was hired by Pilot Travel Centers where he now works as treasurer/controller. "Computers make accounting much different than it was ten years ago. Accounting isn't just about being a geek, which is why my Bryan education is so valuable. I have to be able to go out into the field, back to the board room to pull technology and people together," David explained. "Accounting now is about finding out what happened yesterday so that I can react to it today, not just creating a quarterly history book."
 
As treasurer/controller, David does exactly that: follow the daily trends of Pilot Travel Centers to see how he can help individual locations make decisions that benefit the company as a whole. He spends a lot of time working with travel center managers, which requires skills in critical thinking and interpersonal communication.
 
"I study purchase patterns to help local managers figure out why a top-selling product isn't selling or how much of a certain product they should purchase," David explained. “This version of accounting is less about quarterly reports and more about how those reports affect people. It transfers the data into real-life scenarios where it can be applied for profit.

The Clothier family on vacation in San Juan,
Puerto Rico, this spring. 
"It's important to have a great attitude, work hard, and work well," David said. "Pilot's number one rule is 'Do the Right Thing.' It’s about being willing to do what doesn’t necessarily help you, being willing to give what can’t be returned or won’t be seen."

Today, David continues to work at Pilot and lives in Knoxville with his wife, two children, two cats, and a dog.