When Mark Hieronymus walked in a client’s door to talk taxes in the early days of his career, it often meant hauling a 75-pound 10-key Remington adding machine. Tax returns were calculated dutifully by hand even in the early 1980’s – with client information mailed to Atlanta for processing by something called a “computer. “ “It’s crazy to imagine, but answering a tax law question sometimes meant poring through industry newsletters for hours,” recalls Mark. “Accounting today has moved to the cloud and we can answer just about anything in a matter of seconds,” he says. Today, the Hieronymus accountants answering those questions include a fresh generation with the same patient attention to detail.
In January, Forrest Hieronymus completed and passed the Uniform Certified Public Accountants exam. The milestone didn’t just cap his accounting studies at the University of Alabama, but brought the fourth member of the family into the company with one of the most respected names in the business. And a unique niche in Alabama’s accounting industry: Hieronymus is the only active three-generation firm in the state.
The roots for Hieronymus CPAs began in 1987 with George Hieronymus opening his own practice in Mobile after more than 25 years as a staff accountant and then partner with a large area firm. Maintaining a focus on income, estate and gift taxes, George A. Hieronymus & Co. would build tremendous client relationships that last to this day. “We have some clients who’ve worked with Dad since the early 1970’s,” offers Mark. “And he’s the one they want to see when they come in the door. If that’s a day he’s not in, they’ll ask when they might catch him. It’s such an inspiration in the power of a relationship and trust – and a lesson he’s passed down to all of us.”
Mark joined his father in business after earning his Masters of Tax Accounting at the University of Alabama. In 1999, George A. Hieronymus & Co. would merge with another Mobile accounting firm – forming Hieronymus, Gaillard & Jones, LLC. The new firm would grow further eight years later with a partnership that became the largest accounting firm in the Mobile Bay area: Wilkins Miller Hieronymus, LLC.
With his sons pursuing their own accounting careers, Mark and his father decided to return to their own practice in 2014 and even re-opened their original office in midtown Mobile.
Hieronymus CPAs, LLC now includes Brooks and Forrest – both with a Masters in Tax Accounting from UA. The firm’s staff and capabilities continue to expand from tax planning to bookkeeping, wealth transfer, strategic transactions and more.
“When I was packing up for college, one of my father’s partners brought me a Journal of Accountancy with a big Burroughs adding machine imposed over a person’s face,” remembers Mark. “That wasn’t an image that inspired me much. But Dad convinced me whether or not I ever went into public practice, accounting was an area I should know and understand. I’m grateful for that encouragement and it’s something I’ve shared with my own sons.”
Another value that drives the Hieronymus approach to business: never assume an issue can’t be resolved. Listening to clients, thinking through issues and solving problems is the day to day conversation among grandfather, father and sons. Along with shared tales of the latest fishing trip or weekend on the river where the family grew up.
Today, the old adding machine sits on a shelf not far from a flat screen monitor ready for teleconference, sharefile upload or lightning-fast research. Financial problem solving today may no longer include a keystroke, but will always maintain the commitment to relationship that is the Hieronymus hallmark.