By DENNIS SEID / Daily Journal

With more than 200 years of combined experience, the eight shareholders in Nail McKinney added another experienced hand recently.

A Tupelo-based accounting firm, Nail McKinney Professional Association began in June of 1951. Judson L. Vance & Company PA began in 1991, but Vance  who has been an accountant for 40 years – practiced with other local public firms before starting his own firm.

Last week, Vance officially joined Nail McKinney.

“I probably instigated the thing,” Vance said with a laugh. “I’ve been a sole practitioner for about 29 years, and I was concerned about the continuity of the services for my clients. I’ve had clients for years and and years; they’ve pretty much put my kids through college and helped me a lot, and I felt like if something was going to happen to me, I wanted somebody I could trust to step in and take care of them.”

Vance knew Nail McKinney well; after all, he did rent a building next door to their offices, and accountants tend to know each other, especially in a town the size of Tupelo.

Vance had actually broached the topic of joining the firm at an earlier seminar.

“The business has gotten so in-depth, I just need more help, and I said, let’s go ahead and get this done,” he said.

There was no formal agreement in place for the merger to happen; rather, there was a gentlemen’s agreement that had been in place.

Eddie Wright, secretary and shareholder of Nail McKinney, also held Vance in high regard and didn’t hesitate to bring his friend on board.

“Whenever you do that, the first thing to ask is if this person you’re considering to bring to the firm a good person,” Wright said. “Is it a good person? What’s his reputation? What’s his character and integrity? The next thing is is he good at what he does, and finally, what kind of client base does he have.”

And Vance’s background checked all the boxes.

The two firms provided similar services with accounting, bookkeeping, payroll and benefits and tax preparation and planning services, but Neal McKinney also offers assurance services (audits, reviews, compilations, financial statements).

“There are some overlap in services we provided, but there are services Jud does that we didn’t do that we were interested in, and there were services that we can offer to his clients as well,” Wright said.

The firm has grown to more than 30 associates, and the clientele comes mainly from within 100 miles. But Nail McKinney has several clients across the state as well as out of state.

Nail McKinney also has an office in Amory.

Ricky Bullock, the treasurer and also a shareholder in Nail McKinney, said Vance was a good natural fit for the firm.

“It gives us more in-depth services we can offer,” he said. “He has clients who are owners of businesses that we do, and we do clients that are owners of businesses he does, and it just seemed a good fit. Continuity is a good thing, and that’s what we really talked about when we got to the table. It helps him accomplish the goals he wants and it helps us as well as we join forces.”

There will be a few growing pains as the systems are merged. As Vance put it, Nail McKinney is more of a corporate structure by necessity because of its size. And because he’s been a sole proprietor for so long, Vance said his office was “a little more homey. You could just walk through the door, prop up a chair and start talking.

“That’s going to be a change for them. Now, they all agreed to the change, and I talked to all of them, and there’s no problem with the change. But it’ll just be a little different sort of schedule for them than they’re used to,” he said with a laugh.”

And while the services and how they’re delivered have changed over the years, Nail McKinney is structured to endure another 70 years or more.

“Our firm has been here a long time, and we’ll continue to grow and offer services to the area to the best of our ability,” Bullock said. “We believe we have a good staff and that we’ll continue to grow, perhaps with other mergers down the road. But we will be here.”