Jackson — Beth Burgess takes her job seriously — and personally.
She is one of three partners of the Burgess, Crechale and Necaise CPA firm that was begun in 2001 by three co-workers. She, along with Gloria Crechale and Jeffrey Necaise, are all graduates of the University of Southern Mississippi who met while working for the same accounting firm. They went their separate ways for a while, then worked together again. However, when that firm was merged with a larger one, the trio decided to strike out on their own.
“We didn’t want to be part of a big firm. We have more control this way,” Burgess said. “We bring our three different personalities and can put our personal stamp on this firm.”
Burgess, 45, always enjoyed working with numbers and was steered toward accounting by a good teacher in high school. The Jackson native graduated from college at age 20 and was ready to conquer the world.
“I like to help people and a lot of people value what we do. That’s what really appeals to me about accounting,” she says. “Our clients are comfortable with us. Showing someone your financial records is very personal.”
She says there’s a lot of listening involved in accounting and she does a lot of unlicensed psychiatry. “It can get emotional when you’re dealing with divorce cases and people nervous about the IRS. I stand up for my clients.”
Deadlines and people
Although accounting is a deadline business, these partners feel dealing with people is also an important part of doing business. Burgess, Crechale and Necaise has clients in 12 or 14 states that run the gamut from mom-and-pop businesses to multi-million dollar companies. There’s also a range of small businesses, building contractors, medical supply companies, insurance agents, real estate, a large hospice organization and many others on their client list. The mission statement is “to provide timely, personal service customized to meet each clients’ unique needs.”
“We try to have a personal relationship with our clients, to know them and what’s going on with them. We try not to do cookie cutter-type work,” Burgess said. “We get many through referrals and that’s the best kind.”
One thing they like about being a small firm is structuring the workweek to accommodate family life. Like all accountants, there are some long hours during tax time but other times of the year are different. Burgess is the ultimate band booster mom and takes off every Friday afternoon in the fall to do band stuff with her teenage daughters, Laura and Kim. Gloria Crechale has a four-year-old son, Anderson, and two-year-old twins, Anne Maree and Bob. For her, having a young family was a big part of starting the firm.
“Things look different as you get older. I’ve learned how to compromise,” Crechale, 48, says. “I like the feeling of owning part of this and being a decisive factor in determining my future.”
She makes a point of tailoring her work to spend time with her family and attend events involving her children, taking off a lot during the “off season.”
She describes herself as the middle personality type of the three partners. Burgess is definitely an “A” type and Necaise is the laid back one who rolls with the punches. “It’s a good mix,” she says. “We all have input. We’re all concerned about our employees and want to make this a good place to work.”
Crechale considered piano and accounting as college majors but felt the opportunities to earn a living were better with accounting. A Philadelphia native, she worked in audit for an accounting firm and as financial officer with a lumber company.
“In public accounting there’s something new every day,” she said. “I’ve been doing retirement planning work full time for the last 15 years. I work with all sizes of clients. The largest has 5,000 employees.”
Odd man out? Not at all
At 43, Necaise is the youngest of the partners and doesn’t see working in a woman-majority firm any different. ‘We’re all CPAs and trying to give a quality product,” he said. “There are no disagreements because I’m a man and they’re women. We have some differences of opinions, but work them out to do the best thing.”
He describes his partners as team workers and friends. All of the eight employees are women, too; something he says was not by design. “We have not purposely not hired men, and we will hire men in the future as we grow,” he said. “Most of our employees came with us from other firms because we knew them and knew their skills.”
Originally from Necaise Crossing in Hancock County, he does a lot of work with income taxes and small business consulting. A former small business owner, he brings that experience to the firm and likes to start with new business owners and grow with them.
Burgess said, “We take work seriously but throw in some fun and special lunches. Everyone in the firm is a second family for us, and we have to laugh sometimes. There’s a lot more to life than collecting paychecks.”
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.