Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards 2012
Mr. Del Kolbe
BA Sociology/History '81
Partner-in-Charge, West and Southwest Region,
Paradigm Tax Group, Austin, TX
Remarks by Dr. Susan Day
Chair, Department of Sociology
Del Kolbe is a successful entrepreneur who works with taxpayers to ensure they pay only their fair share of property taxes. He is also a committed servant of public causes.
Del grew up in San Marcos, where his father, Bill Kolbe, was on the Texas State art faculty. After a tour in the Air Force as a medic, Del enrolled at Texas State, planning to become a doctor. He soon switched to pre-law and a double major in Sociology and History.
At Texas State, he met his future wife, Janice, an education major, and they married after graduation. Their son, Nickolas, is a commercial real estate broker in California, and their daughter, Jacquelyn, lives in Austin.
Del’s quest to become a lawyer changed after college when he was offered a job as a property tax appraiser. He excelled in defending his assessments before appraisal review boards, and he was so good at winning cases that one of his opponents, Real Estate Tax Services of Dallas, offered him a job as a tax consultant. He rose to become a vice president, helping to grow the company into the largest of its kind in the country.
That sort of success impressed KPMG, a Big Four accounting firm, which asked Del to build its practice in property tax representation. Del and his partners and managers grew KPMG’s practice from $3 million in revenue to $22 million and expanded its services to include consultation on business relocation incentives.
Del and his two partners bought their practice from KPMG in 2004, renaming it Paradigm Tax Group. When Del asked Janice for her signature on an $11-million loan to buy the business, she gasped, “Del Kolbe, are you out of your mind?” But she signed, and Del and his partners paid off the debt in four years and tripled the size of the company. Last summer, they sold 70 percent of the company to a private equity firm.
Del now looks forward to working with his favorite charities. He and Janice raise money for several veterans groups, including the Wounded Warriors Project, Operation Homefront, and the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes. Del supports Austin’s Samaritan Center, whose Hope for Heroes project offers holistic treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. He serves on the Veterans Advisory Council at Texas State, and he and Janice recently gave a major gift to the University to create a Veterans’ Resource Center. The center will offer a cornucopia of financial and counseling services to veterans and their families. Del hopes that Texas State will become the top university in Texas serving America’s veterans.
Del credits the Air Force with giving him the discipline and confidence to set his strategic career goals, and his liberal arts training with instilling the communication and critical thinking skills that have enabled him to achieve those goals. He is very proud of his education from Texas State, and he promotes the University and the liberal arts as the foundation of his success and as the guiding principal in his philanthropic endeavors. The College of Liberal Arts is pleased to present him with its highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.