Pigs might not fly, but for Somerset CPAs, they can drive a racecar

Indianapolis is known as "The Racing Capital of the World," and it just so happens there are employees at Indianapolis-based Somerset CPAs P.C. who follow auto racing. So it’s no surprise that the firm created and entered a racecar-themed structure for the CANstruction event at the Indiana State Fair in August. The result: a victory in the Best Meal category. Jason Bramwell reports.

As the Indiana State Fair was celebrating the "Year of Pigs" during this summer’s event, the Construction & Architectural/Engineering (A/E) team at Somerset CPAs designed and assembled "Porko Hamdretti" – a racecar-driving pig made entirely of canned food – for the CANstruction competition, which benefited Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana.
 
Participants in the CANstruction event – which included teams of Indiana architects, contractors, engineers, and other businesses in related fields – had to make pig-themed structures using aluminum and plastic cans of food that could not exceed 10 feet in length and width and 8 feet in height. Awards were given in five categories: Best Meal, Best Use of Labels, Structural Ingenuity, Jurors’ Favorite, and People’s Choice.
 
"The competition is organized by members of the Indiana construction community whom we work with and network with regularly," Somerset CPAs senior marketing manager Melissa Farmer told AccountingWEB. "When a slot came open for a new team to enter this year’s competition, we were given the opportunity. We saw it as a perfect fit for our industry niche, as well as our community outreach mission."
 
The 11 client-serving professionals who work full time in the firm’s Construction & A/E team – Robert Anderson, Jason Bainter, Jay Feller, Steve George, Ken Hedlund, Chris Mayfield, Ericka McCreary, Rebecca Ogle, Jack Orth, Sean Rizer, and Andy Toth – designed and built Porko Hamdretti, along with Farmer, marketing manager Carrie Lewis and administrative assistant Andrea Franklin.
 
Despite many of the team members being fans of auto racing, their first idea for the canned food structure was a piggy bank, which would tie in to their profession, Farmer said. However, there were two CANstruction teams that already had submitted that theme.
 
"As we started brainstorming again, the Indy car theme came up. A lot of us are big race fans and have been going to the Indy 500 all our lives. We got excited about the idea and made it happen," she said. "We made it the No. 50 car since we are celebrating Somerset’s 50th anniversary this year. We wanted to include [a replica] of the famous yard of bricks [at Indianapolis Motor Speedway] and built a pit wall, too."
 
Somerset CPAs ordered the cans of food from a local Kroger supermarket several weeks before the competition started. Before the order was made, the firm’s marketing department visited the grocery store to find the right mix of label colors, can sizes, and types of food for the project, Farmer said. Rebecca Ogle, who is also one of the firm’s principals, put the structure’s design into Microsoft Excel and created a building plan.
 
Participants had from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., August 6, to build their structures on-site at the fair. It only took until 2 p.m. for the Somerset CPAs team to finish making Porko Hamdretti.
 
The team used 1,520 cans of food – including pineapple, Spam, green beans, corned beef, peas, chicken, baked beans and grapefruit – to make the racecar-driving pig. The structure stayed together through "careful stacking and a lot of clear packing tape," Farmer said.
 
"It was an exciting experience: think of a group of CPAs using Excel and color-coding to plot out their car and then watch it come to life," Ogle added. "It was also a great team-building experience, as we were all out of our element of the day-to-day roles we play, and everyone pitched in to make it a success."
 
Judging for the competition was held August 13, and Farmer said the team was pleasantly surprised when they were awarded the Best Meal honor.
 
"Our goal was really to have fun as a team and hope we built something that would hold together," she added.
 
After the fair concluded, the teams participating in the CANstruction event disassembled their structures and placed the cans of food in donation bins for Gleaners Food Bank. More than 44,000 pounds of canned food were donated to help families, senior citizens, and children in need in Indiana, according to Gleaners Food Bank.
 
"Building Porko was lots of fun and an interesting team-building experience," Andy Toth, senior accountant in the Construction & A/E team, told AccountingWEB. "Who knew that a bunch of bean counters could actually construct something from what we typically only count?"
 
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