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Dr Momi

In: Business and Management

Submitted By IPA11
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Pages 3
Please Note:
While the content of this document is very similar to information found on the EarthWear and Willis & Adams, CPAs websites, it contains specific content related to the 2014 audit. This information is applicable to all EarthWear Mini-cases.

Background of EarthWear

EarthWear Clothiers was founded in Boise, Idaho, by James Williams and Calvin Rogers in 1973 to make high-quality clothing for outdoor sports, such as hiking, skiing, fly-fishing, and whitewater kayaking. Over the years, the company's product lines have grown to include casual clothing, accessories, shoes, and soft luggage. EarthWear offers its products through three retailing options: catalogs, retail outlets, and its website. When EarthWear founders, Williams and Rogers, decided to incorporate their company in 1975, they searched for an accounting firm to conduct the company’s approaching year-end audit. They were referred to a bright, young auditor that had recently started his own CPA firm, Michael Willis. Williams and Rogers were immediately impressed with Mr. Willis, and agreed to have Willis and Company complete EarthWear’s upcoming audit. Ever since, EarthWear and Willis and Adams have had a strong relationship. EarthWear decided to go public in 1986. Although Willis and Adams audited very few other public companies at that time, EarthWear retained Willis and Adams as the company’s auditor.

Outdoor Clothing Industry

Over the past several years, the outdoor clothing industry has been growing at a steady, moderate pace. The industry consists of a wide variety of manufacturers that sell products directly to customers or through retail stores, including department stores, specialty shops, and catalog companies. The industry is highly competitive. EarthWear’s direct competitors include Eddie Bauer, Land’s End, L. L. Bean, Patagonia, and Timberland. EarthWear competes primarily on merchandise value (quality and price), its established customer list, and customer service, including fast order fulfillment and unqualified guarantees.


In late February of 2014, EarthWear’s chief accounting officer/controller Brad Norton unexpectedly left the company to take a job with another clothes manufacturer. Mr. Norton had been with the company since 2004. In those ten years, the auditors from Willis and Adams had enjoyed their work association with Mr. Norton. They found him to be a strong leader with a great deal of personal character. Mr. Norton cited “personal reasons” for his sudden departure from the company. A new controller, Carol McKay, was selected in November. Before her promotion, Ms. McKay had been the VP of External Reporting. In her 14 years with EarthWear, Ms. McKay spent the majority of her time in External Reporting. As a result, some executives questioned if Ms. McKay had the broad skill-set needed for such a demanding position. After interacting with her during some recent meetings, even some of Willis and Adams’ professionals questioned Ms. McKay’s qualifications for the job.

Accounting and Control Systems

With the complexity of EarthWear’s customer database reaching 21.1 million people, and sales occurring through catalogs, retail outlets, and the internet, the company realized in early 2009 that it was in need of a new, upgraded accounting information system. The company switched to a new, integrated central accounting system in early 2010. The transition to the new system was overseen and implemented by the former controller, Brad Norton. This new system maintains integrated inventory, accounts receivable, payroll, and general ledger software modules. Although the implementation of the new system was expensive and laden with problems, by the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2010 the problems were largely resolved and the company began to see the benefits. The new system integrates the company’s operations and accounting systems and allows EarthWear’s sales force to promise next day delivery to telephone and internet customers. As a result, customer satisfaction has increased.

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