Jackson — From a small beginning in Laurel in 1962, the Horne CPA Group has grown steadily to become one of the major CPA firms in the country, currently ranking in the nation’s top 50 and as one of the Southeast’s top 10
Begun by William F. Horne Sr., the firm is now officially Horne LLP and employs more than 200 professional accountants with a total staff of nearly 300 employees. There are 40 partners.
Director of marketing Shawn McGregor says the rankings are based on revenue and that most of the firm’s new business comes from referrals.
“Everyone is aware of our size. The partners strive really hard to have resources but still treat people like we did in 1962,” he said. “We treat every client like they’re the most important one we have. We like to emphasize that we have the resources of a big firm but still maintain the personal touch. It’s the best of both worlds.”
The headquarters are in the Capital City with offices in Lucedale, Grenada, Laurel, Hattiesburg, New Orleans, Mobile, Nashville and Jackson, Tenn. Horne LLP, has a practice of national scope, regularly serving clients in 45 states.
Chairman emeritus Roy Ward joined the firm in Laurel 39-1/2 years ago and says he’s done a little bit of everything from carrying out the garbage to serving as managing partner for 20 years. He says the people are what make the firm a good one.
“The biggest problem, as with most businesses, is getting good people and keeping them so they treat clients right. I believe good people feed off good people,” he said. “It’s no secret other than hard work and prayer. We’re doing today what we did yesterday; doing what we say we’ll do; walking the walk.”
Ward claims Horne LLP, is not trying to be the biggest firm in the state but just trying to be the best. “We’re trying to take care of our clients and we’re pleased with the growth we’ve had,” he said. “We provide a place that people can come to work and spend a year or a career and leave feeling like they’re better off.”
vAs for the future, the Hattiesburg native and University of Southern Mississippi graduate says it’s hard to meet all the firm’s challenges without growing. He recalls when everyone in the firm could meet in a phone booth.
“We will continue to grow in the Southeast as a major influence and player,” he said. “We’ve doubled in size every five or six years. The toughest thing about getting big is staying small and I think we’ve done that. If a company loses direction as it grows large (like WorldCom), then, yes, growing is a problem. But when everyone is on the same wavelength, then size is not a drawback.”
Chairman of the board Larry Welborn says that Horne has been successful due to its leadership and innovation. With the firm since 1971, he feels that specialization is also a key to growth.
“We’ve had some great leadership in the past and have been innovative to see that we need to branch out and expand,” he said. “When I started, the firm had already started a specialty in healthcare and specialization has developed more and more.”
In addition to healthcare, the firm has a wide range of clients that include privately held businesses, construction companies, banks and others for whom they provide a full range of services and business consulting.
“What we do depends on the industry and what their different needs are,” said McGregor. “It is everything from helping hospitals with Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to providing government reporting and cash flow analysis for private companies to general consulting about business practices.”
The firm has also begun providing technology consulting, helping clients with software issues, setting up data networks and helping with data recovery.
McGregor attributes the organization’s growth to anticipating the needs of clients and finding whatever resources it takes to get the job done. He also observes many more demands on the partners now. “The partners have to be supervisors. The days of sitting at a desk and crunching numbers are over,” he said. “The partners are advisors and sometimes they’re just listeners. Our clients want us to help improve their profits and grow their business.”
Welborn points out that Horne’s close, personal relationships with clients have always been the firm’s philosophy. “We have a good business and give good service and you can’t give good service without staying close to clients,” he said. “We can only go up or down. One of our biggest needs is to have good talent and we must grow to keep them.”
He says the firm has growth targets but not just for the sake of growing. With roots deep in Mississippi, Horne will remain headquartered here.
In addition to serving as chairman of the board, Welborn is director of hospitals and healthcare systems at Horne. “It’s been a fun ride, although the audit failures of the last few years have changed the profession more than anything,” he said. “At first there was a trust impact but now that is being regained.”
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.