JACKSON — 1962 was an incredible year. John F. Kennedy was president and deeply involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles were each recording their first albums, the “Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and “The Lucy Show” were broadcast for the very first time, and “Dr. No” was showing in theaters. It was also the year Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart.
And in Laurel, William F. Horne Sr. decided to leave the accounting firm he was with to start his own firm, William F. Horne, Certified Public Accountant. The firm would soon become known as Horne CPA Group.
Today Horne CPA Group is celebrating 40 years in business. At each of the firm’s locations celebrations will be held to mark this milestone. In Jackson Horne CPA Group will hold a celebration at the Old Capitol Inn Sept. 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
How far they’ve come
“We thought this would be a great opportunity to see the history of the firm — where we are now and how far we’ve come,” said business development manager Shawn McGregor.
There were two defining events that shaped the firm into what it is today. The first was an external event when the federal government passed Medicare legislation in 1966. This legislation placed numerous accounting requirements on hospitals and Horne CPA Group, then William F. Horne & Co., provided many services to hospitals across the state.
The other event was a strategic planning meeting that took place in 1979. During that year Roy Ward was named president of the firm, replacing the retired William F. Horne Sr., and Ward and two other partners, William F. Horne Jr. and Larry Welborn, determined that the firm really needed a strategic plan. At a retreat in Jackson they hashed out a strategic plan to locate offices 90 miles apart throughout Mississippi over the next 10 years. Offices were soon opened in Jackson, Grenada, Hattiesburg and Lucedale, and the partners discovered that their plan had paved the way for dynamic growth over the next several years.
The firm also began to diversify and strengthen itself. It had primarily been known as a healthcare firm for a number of years, but after Horne Jr., Ward and Welborn developed their plan it also became a well known tax, audit and general accounting firm.
After 40 years in business Horne CPA Group has also become a recognized leader in providing many other employee benefits services, financial services and technology consulting through affiliate companies Horne Business Services, LLC, Horne Financial Services, LLC, and Horne Technology Group, LLC.
‘Outstanding service at a fair price’
While its size has changed through the years however, Horne CPA Group’s vision has not: provide outstanding service at a fair price.
McGregor, who has been with the firm for two years, said what has been such a big contributor to the firm’s success, are its relationships.
“As we grow big we really try to stay small and still have a personal touch with all our clients,” McGregor said. “Whether an individual taxpayer or a large corporation, all those relationships are important. Horne CPA Group does a good job of first developing a relationship and then finding out what their clients really want.”
So many clients can’t be wrong. Today Horne CPA Group is considered a large regional firm. With clients in 35 states, the firm concentrates its resources in the Southeast. They were ranked as the 50th largest accounting firm in the nation and the seventh largest firm in the southeast in 2002 Public Accounting Report Top 100 compiled by Aspen Publishers of Atlanta, and it’s continuing that growth pattern, too.
The growth rate for Horne CPA Group’s fiscal year, which ended April 30, 2002, was 22%. In comparison, the 2002 Public Accounting Report stated that the average growth rate for the top 100 firms was 6%.
That’s nothing new for Horne CPA Group, however. In the 40 years the firm has been doing business it has experienced positive growth every year and only nine times have they not recorded double-digit growth. And last year the firm ranked 60th in the nation and 10th in the Southeast. This year they’re ranked 50th nationally and seventh regionally.
“Everybody seems to be working extremely hard,” said Ward, the firm’s CEO. “I think that as we continue developing the Southeast the future looks extremely good. As long as we stick to what we’ve done for the last 40 years, I think it will maintain.”
That means continuing to invest heavily in technology so they can provide their clients with the most current information available, as well as forming alliances with similar firms around the country so they have a network of knowledge to use as a resource for clients.
The firm’s growth has come primarily in three ways: developing new business internally from new clients, existing clients and referrals, growth from mergers and acquisitions and growth through Horne CPA Group’s affiliate companies.
“I don’t want to overdo this celebration or be too jubilant over it,” Ward said of the firm reaching its 40th anniversary. “We don’t want to be too self-confident and sit back on our laurels because we have to do everyday what’s made us successful.”
Horne CPA Group currently has offices in Laurel, Jackson, Grenada, Hattiesburg, Lucedale, Gulfport, Oxford, Nashville and New Orleans.
“From entry level staff accountants to partners, our first priority has been and will be to listen to our clients and provide the services they need to be successful,” McGregor said.
Added Ward, “We’re just thankful for our clients in Mississippi and elsewhere and our friends of the firm, who’ve given us so much support over the last 40 years.”
Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at email@example.com or (601) 364-1042.