GULFPORT — There’s a lot to be said for the name of a business. For Montgomery & Daughter Inc., it represents a strong family tie and a break from the traditional father and son partnership. This firm’s name also attests to the mutual professional respect of these public accountants. Located on Beach Drive (U.S. 90), the sign has high visibility and while it wasn’t given this name to attract attention, it does.
“We get an awful lot of business specifically because of the name,” said Suzette Montgomery, the daughter half of the company name. “However, don’t call and ask for Mr. Daughter as some people do. But my favorite calls are the ones who ask how to spell daughter. I tell them it’s spelled like son.”
The father half of this duo, John E. Montgomery, says the name was his idea when his daughter returned to the Coast from living in Atlanta 24 years ago and went to work with him.
“By using ‘daughter,’ we don’t have to change the letterhead,” he kids her. “The sign has been worth a lot and the name recognition is good. It’s quite valuable.”
With a roll of her eyes, she shoots back, “I think there should be a therapy support group for children who work with parents.”
She did office management work in Atlanta and says her dad at first gave her a clerky job that he had run through other family members that he could pay cheap. Being very good at details, she eased into accounting, finding it an art rather than a science.
“Accounting has a logic to it. You take certain rules and apply them in a logical way,” the younger Montgomery said. “It’s sort of like a mystery novel and you must figure out who, what, where and when and how it all fits together.”
Her father says, “She was so into persistence and seeing to it that things are right. Woodrow Wilson said, ‘Persistence is the greatest attribute to a person’s character. It’s the most useful trait one should have.’ Mine is not as defined as Sue’s, but we are under an obligation to be precise for our clients.”
John Montgomery, 81, was one of seven children reared in Greenville where he learned to swim in the Mississippi River. He was one of only two business school graduates with highest honors when he graduated in accounting from Mississippi State University in 1948. For 25 years, he worked for the Internal Revenue Service as a special agent of the intelligence unit.
“I carried a gun and a gold badge and was the only IRS agent here when I came to the Coast in 1960,” he said. “I investigated politicians. That’s when bribery of public officials was not a federal offense.”
Montgomery said after 25 years he felt he’d seen it all, so he hung up his gun and badge and hung out his accounting shingle.
“I’m not a cotton patch auditor, but I’m a ‘raise my right hand, white hat’ kind of guy,” he said. “Many large accounting firms have gotten away from the rigid rules of accounting and gotten into other types of business, giving advice and making projections.”
Montgomery’s company motto has been from the beginning “Helping you keep more of what you make” and it remains so. From the old school of professionalism and courtly manners, he feels the profession’s reputation has been damaged by the antics of some accountants.
In addition to offering traditional accounting services, both father and daughter are both authorized by the IRS as enrolled agents and are designated as accredited tax advisors by the Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation. The elder Montgomery is also a certified fraud examiner and conducts financial investigations for courts in the area.
“I got into a career that I had never considered and had to go back to school while working, but it’s very rewarding,” Suzette said. “The whole thing is to help clients. I want my clients to have as much information as they want to make decisions.”
The firm works with a lot of new, small businesses and tries to guide them through decisions and growth.
“Our philosophy is to keep it simple at first and go from there,” she said.
At this stage of life, father and daughter find their work philosophies differing somewhat. He is becoming mellower and has cut his working hours to five or six each day but says he won’t fully retire. She has gotten more intense and involved with work. Each has praise for the other’s abilities and for their excellent staff.
“Accounting is complicated and there are so many things to remember,” she said.
“I’m into flexible hours now. Life is too short to be serious,” he said. “She’s her mother’s daughter and I get along with her. It’s whatever she wants to do.”
To which the daughter replies, “I’m painting my office red this summer.”
“Now wait just a dang minute!” is the retort.
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.