Celebrating 70 Years: A New Generation and Beyond
By Dan Hayes, CPA, Partner
I arrived at Bernard Robinson & Company in April 1988. My journey to BRC started in Virginia, where I worked as a cost accountant for Burlington Industries for a short time before moving to a regional CPA firm for about three years. I returned to North Carolina in 1985, when I took a job with a national CPA firm in Greensboro. I progressed to the position of manager and my clients got larger, but the interactions I enjoyed – those with owners and management – happened less often.
When I received a call in 1988 about a position at BRC, I was ready to consider another move that would provide me more of what I liked about being a CPA. I couldn’t find much about BRC, but knew it was a much smaller firm operating primarily as a tax practice. This didn’t exactly match my audit and accounting background. I also thought it strange when my interview was scheduled for early April because tax season must be one of the firm’s busiest times. The interview was conducted by two tax partners, Freddy Robinson and Bob Shuman, and Pat Price, a tax manager that came to BRC a year earlier from a large regional firm. During the interview, everyone was open, honest, and friendly. I was given all the time needed to get to know about the firm and the people. This made me feel as important to them as tax season. I also discovered that the three founding partners (Bernard “Bernie” Robinson, Joe Robinson, and Joe Kent) were looking to retire soon. I saw a future for myself and immediately accepted an offer as an audit manager. I soon found out that my interview was not a fluke, and that the BRC culture was unlike any I had previously experienced. I was very happy, but must admit that moving from a sixty person office with a national firm to a thirteen person firm with no formalized audit policies and procedures caused me some concern.
My first task was to create audit programs and procedures to serve as a quality control system for the firm’s auditing and accounting practice. Creating this system proved to be challenging at times. There was some resistance from others, but Freddy, Bob and Pat gave me their full support, so I was successful. Pat and I later made partner and Bob left the firm. Freddy, Pat and I continued on sharing the same vision for the firm’s future and became the second generation of BRC partners. We proceeded to expand the client base and grew beyond the existing group of closely held businesses and their owners. As we grew, new people joined and new partners were made, all of which shared our vision and understood the secret to our growth was providing excellent client service and an environment where people could excel. As our growth continued, more new clients and industries were added, and the firm soon grew to over a hundred people and into one of the largest CPA firms in the Triad. We knew we had something special because the growth was mostly organic through referrals from existing clients. In 2012, we expanded by acquiring a small firm in Raleigh and opening a Winston-Salem office.
The firm now stands at over one hundred and twenty strong. Pat has recently retired, and Freddy and I know our days are numbered. Soon BRC will have a third generation of partners, but we are comforted to know that one thing will always remain the same: our vision and commitment to client service and taking care of our people.