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Home on the Road

by Nancy J. McCann

Rod Burkert ’78, his wife, Amy, and their pups, Ty and Buster, at White Sands National Monument in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Photo courtesy of Rod Burkert.

For Rod Burkert ’78, an authority in the field of business valuation, and his wife, Amy, life on the road has a whole new meaning.

Setting his GPS for Palm Springs, Calif., Rod Burkert ’78 and his wife, Amy, were ready to hit the road. Hoping to reach Southern California before the first snowfall could derail their route, the Burkerts left Phoenix, Ariz., drove east to Georgia, north to Pennsylvania, west through the northern United States and southern Canada to British Columbia, and, finally, south to Palm Springs.

Eleven months later, they arrived, ready to ride out the cold, dreary winter months beneath the swaying palm trees and desert sun. “See how easy that was,” Burkert quips, reflecting on and relishing life on the road.

Since 2010, the Burkerts have called an RV “home.” They’ve logged more than 100,000 non-interstate miles through 48 states and five Canadian provinces with their four-legged best friends, Ty and Buster. Their current RV is a comfortable 37-foot-long house-on-wheels, with four TV s, stacked washer and dryer, queen-size bed and full-size refrigerator. There’s not much they’re lacking, Burkert is pleased to point out—except for taxes.

LAND-LOCKED LIVING. Once upon a time, Burkert did pay real estate taxes—on three properties. Two in Philadelphia and a vacation home in the Poconos. Working for Price Waterhouse, his first job after graduating from Albright with an accounting degree, Burkert moved to Philadelphia. As a suburban boy from West Reading this was “my first bright lights, big city experience.”

For 22 years, Burkert toiled in public accounting and industry building on his accounting and tax training.  He eventually found his niche in business valuation. In 2000, he launched Burkert Valuation Advisors from his home in the City of Brotherly Love.

“Business valuation coupled my knowledge of accounting and taxes with my love for finance,” says Burkert. “Everything I had been doing up until that point in my career was waiting for me to start my own business valuation company.

“Albright’s accounting curriculum really prepared me for my first job after graduation. The fact that I was trained in accounting and worked in public accounting has gotten me to where I am today.”

Earning accreditations and expertise in business valuation, Burkert became an authority in the budding field. In addition to running his successful accounting practice he also trains other professionals throughout the country and writes for trade publications.

MOBILE OFFICE. So how did Burkert go from a home office to a mobile office? For that, he has Ty and Buster to thank. In 2008, after a two-week, 3,000-mile car trip to Canada and back—with the dogs—the Burkerts discovered how difficult it is to travel with pets. With the Internet still in its early days, it wasn’t easy finding dog-friendly hotels or restaurants, dog parks or veterinarians along the way.

Concluding that pet travel shouldn’t be so daunting and after extensive research, Amy started a website,, to assist other four-legged travelers and their owners. Wanting to put her hard work to the test, the Burkerts purchased an RV and received Winnebago Industries sponsorship for a six-month
road trip with Ty and Buster.

The no-plan plan. “We never asked anyone or lived in an RV on a trial basis—just went out and bought it,” says Burkert, noting it’s not something that CPA s like themselves would typically do. “We’re linear-thinking people who plot and plan every move in our lives, and one day, all of a sudden, we’re living full-time in an RV .”

Upon their return from that successful, experimental excursion through the southern U.S. and Yellowstone National Park, the Burkerts decided to sell all their real estate, and make the RV their home. Seven years later, they’re still on the road. Petite Amy takes the wheel of the mammoth driving machine while Rod does all the navigating and cooking.

“As foreign as it is for some people to understand how we live in an RV, my wife and I can’t understand how you can live one place where the climate doesn’t really change and the scenery stays the same,” Burkert says. “Neither one of us wants to go back to owning a traditional home and being in one place. We’ve met more lifelong friends on the road than we did in all the years we lived in Center City Philly.

“We have rituals and routines like everyone else: get up, walk dogs, make coffee, breakfast, check email. But with a mobile office, every day has the potential to be a Friday. Work? Or play hooky,” asks Burkert, devilishly. “We shoehorn our work around our lives, we don’t shoehorn our lives around work.”

As for where they’ll go next: “The plan is to not have a plan. If you have a plan it doesn’t allow for serendipity,” says the free-spirited Burkert.

Happy trails—and tails—to you.

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