Jackson Thornton celebrates 90 years
by Rebecca Flatt
In March 1919, H.C. Crane, a certified public accountant (CPA), began his practice with a primary goal of helping clients solve financial concerns. As the years passed, the firm continued to expand, growing out of office locations and hop-scotching through the downtown Montgomery area.
Usually, when a certain age is reached, the question of “how old are you?” can be taken personally.
But what if you are as vibrant, thriving and respected a 90 year-old as local certified public accounting and consulting firm Jackson Thornton? Then you proudly answer the question, and do it with a smile that keeps customers coming back time and again.
In the late 1970s, as the revitalization of downtown Montgomery began, Jackson Thornton became the first company to purchase property in the Lower Commerce Historic District. With the architectural input of Thomas A. Blount, the 1880s façade was retained to preserve the buildings historic features, transforming the dilapidated, rat-infested space into a restored, professional and beautiful office building.
In 1979, this historical district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the old building that was once used as a mill store by the Teague Hardware Company was completed. In the early 1980s, specialization within the organization began to grow. Jackson Thornton Utilities was launched specifically for industry. Professionals at the firm also began gaining extensive knowledge in other high-growth industries, including construction, manufacturing and health care.
"We’ve been doing business with Jackson Thornton since 1982,” says Larry Puckett, owner of Larry Puckett Chevrolet in Prattville. “When we bought the car dealership from the Durden family, they were using Jackson Thornton, and we were so impressed with the way they handled business that we continued using them as our accounting firm.”
Today, employees hold licenses in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, New York and West Virginia.
By the start of the millennium, Jackson Thornton had created two subsidiaries, Jackson Thornton Asset Management LLC and Jackson Thornton Benefit Resource LLC. In addition to these subordinates, the Valuation and Litigation Consulting Group was created in the early 1990s.
"We provide services to businesses, but in order to get the wheel to roll, you have to have a lot of different spokes, or divisions,” says Diane Steinhilber, a CPA and principal at the firm. By 2001, the firm’s continuing education and training helped support clients in conference-type environments by providing programs, speakers, retreats and entertainment.
Now, nine decades after its birth, Jackson Thornton is one of the top accounting and consulting firms in the Southeast. What makes the firm successful is its genuine interest in their 4,000 customers, and the quality of service they offer.
"We are a family-friendly business,” says Jim Pope, principal and CPA at Jackson Thornton for more than 34 years. “I always have said that we are 90 percent public, and 10 percent accounting; the company is focused on being a people-centered organization.”
When most of its nearly 200 employees have a long history with the same company, it is a sure sign that Jackson Thornton keeps the right perspective, and also focuses on its workers.
"I have been working at Jackson Thornton since I graduated from college,” says Heidi Lee, a CPA and principal. “It’s the only job I have ever had.”
Earlier this year, the firm revamped its Web site. It now features a multimedia section devoted to career opportunities within all areas of the firm, including Jackson Thornton Technology, Asset Management, Health Care, Utilities and more. In addition, profiles of each of the firm’s 33 principals can be viewed, along with an in-depth timeline of the company’s history.
On Thursday, Oct. 15, the firm will celebrate this monumental achievement with a tailgate-style anniversary extravaganza. The event will be at the historic downtown location, 200 Commerce St., beginning at 6 p.m.
"We’ve been able to flourish and grow over the years by partnering with our clients and helping them achieve their long-term goals,” says Ned Sheffield, managing partner and principal. “In reaching our 90th anniversary, we want to continue emphasizing the values that have been a big part of our success, investing in our people so that they can provide top-notch expertise and showing gratitude by giving back to the communities we serve.”
Jackson Thornton has offices in Montgomery, Prattville, Wetumpka, Dothan and Murfreesboro, Tenn. The company has received many awards and recognitions, including Jackson Thornton Technologies being recognized in the MSPmentor 100, a distinguished research report of the world’s most progressively managed service providers.