Engine trouble prevented him from running the race he envisioned, but Garrett Smithley, who drives No. 0 Chevrolet Camaro for JD Motorsports with Gary Keller, ran his final race of the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway Saturday, Nov. 16, repping the Panthers and providing unparalleled exposure for FIU.
Smithley, who finished 32nd in Saturday’s race, posted a Top 20 finish in the series.
The opportunity came courtesy of Kabat, Schertzer, De La Torre, Taraboulos & Co. (KSDT) CPA accounting firm, whose founding partners are FIU alumni. The firm is a sponsor of the JD Motorsports with Gary Keller racing team.
“We’re just really appreciative of everything FIU has given us,” says Managing Partner Jeffrey Taraboulos ’96 MAcc ’00 in explaining the firm’s decision to include FIU’s logo and colors on the car.
The KSDT CPA logo was on three cars. In addition to the No. 0 car that features co-branding with FIU, KSDT CPA is the primary sponsor for NO. 4 KSDT Chevrolet of BJ McLeod. To top it off, the firm will be on the No. 01 Chevrolet driven by Stephen Leicht, in a partnership with Univista Insurance.
Driving real value
Taraboulos founded the firm in 2005 with brother Robert Taraboulos ’97 and Jorge De La Torre ’96. Today the firm employs 135 people and has been recognized three years in a row by Accounting Today as one of the fastest growing accounting firms in the United States.
A huge NASCAR fan since childhood, Jeffrey likes the business-to-business (B2B) nature (companies dealing directly with other companies rather than individual consumers) of NASCAR sponsorship and has slowly increased the firm’s commitment to the sport. The track and garage areas of car racing are today’s golf course, rife with opportunities to build new business relationships. In 2018, more than one in four Fortune 500 companies were investing in NASCAR and nearly half of all Fortune 100 companies did the same. The elder Taraboulos says his partners “are seeing the value of doing B2B with NASCAR.”
In addition to their NASCAR sponsorships, KSDT CPA is a major supporter of FIU Athletics. Jeffrey says that decision was an easy one.
“We want to hire great people, and we actively recruit graduates of FIU’s accounting program,” he says. “We want FIU students to know us. The university has 58,000 students. That’s an amazing number of people to solidify our partnership with.”