“Ottawa is a special place. Family businesses are a little more cherished here than anywhere else.”
Andrew Abraham should know. The third-generation Lebanese Canadian was raised by entrepreneurs. If you’re a native of the city, odds are you’ve visited a confectionary or restaurant run by his relatives.
For years, small to medium-sized family-run businesses constituted the heart of the downtown core. Now, due to factors ranging from a shift in generations to the impact of COVID-19, many are struggling to survive. That’s where TAAG, headed by Abraham, comes in. They’re determined to keep the vibrancy and variety offered by family businesses alive.
TAAG offers Ottawa’s “mom-and-pops” a small business package: bookkeeping, payroll, year-end financial statements and tax filings, and ongoing advisory services, all for a fixed monthly retainer. “That way,” Abraham explains, “it eliminates any surprises.”
After making his mark at Deloitte, where he worked in internal accounting and as a part of their tax group, Abraham boldly set out on his own. Long before the pandemic made conducting business virtually a necessity, Abraham was working out of a home office using only his cell phone. By 2014, though, he had amassed enough clients to set up shop downtown. Now, with so many more,TAAG is on the move to a new location. In September they’re pulling up stakes and moving to a modern new space at 251 Bank Street. “Everybody said downtown is decimated. Nobody goes there anymore,” Abraham recounts. “I said, we need to lead by example. We’re going to bring jobs to the core, and we’re going to create jobs in the core.”
The new space is a particular point of pride. Abraham describes it as “modern, innovative, and forward-thinking. It’s a great place for teams to collaborate.” And collaboration, after all, is what TAAG is all about, whether it’s working with family businesses or getting its team members to collaborate among themselves. “A mature family business has a dynamic that’s the same as a start-up,” Abraham explains. “There are different ideas at work, different generations with different visions. So, first, we listen to our clients. Then, we develop a strategy and come up with a structure.”
That practical optimism is one of the philosophical bedrocks of TAAG. Even the current state of the economy doesn’t faze them. “It’s a time for opportunity,” Abraham proposes. “I tell my clients to ask themselves, ‘Where do I want to be when this is all over? Do I want to be bigger? Hire more people? Be more established?” And if not, then TAAG is happy to assist them with exit strategies or the search for strategic buyers.
TAAG also offers wealth advisory services to high-net-worth families, providing clients with a broader perspective on their wealth than what is traditionally offered by the banks.
As part of its new branding and marketing, TAAG has the naming rights for the athletics field at Carleton University on Bronson Avenue. It will now be known as TAAG Park. As a proud Ottawan, Abraham committed to this civic investment without hesitation. Andrew Abraham and TAAG are leaving their mark on the city in more ways than one.
By Dan Lalande
Photography by Sean Sisk