Dixon Hughes Goodman helps keep companies on top of their bottom line.
photograph by Amie Vanderford
(page 1 of 2)
Anthony Clark has essentially been with the same firm for the nearly three decades he has worked in accounting. After graduating with a bachelor’s in accountancy from Ole Miss in May 1983, the Ripley, Mississippi, native moved to the big city and took a position at Rhea & Ivy in Memphis that July. Clark worked his way up the ranks of Rhea & Ivy — a storied Memphis firm founded by S. Herbert Rhea and Jack Ivy — becoming a partner in 1990 and managing partner in 2000.
Rhea & Ivy merged with large national firm Dixon Hughes in 2008. But because the two companies had such similar cultures despite their size differential, and because Clark and his fellow Rhea & Ivy alums have continued to work with the same clients they had all along, it’s felt like one big ride.
One of the reasons the transition from Rhea & Ivy to Dixon Hughes (which, following a merger with Goodman & Company in 2011, became Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP) wasn’t turbulent was that the Memphis firm had been working toward being a much bigger firm for some time. “We had been working diligently to form a firm mentality rather than an individual partner mentality,” the soft-spoken Clark says. “Clients weren’t partner clients, they were firm clients.”
Rhea & Ivy asked itself, “What’s the best way to get where we want to be?” The firm could make investments in niche practices, deepen its bench, and widen its menu of services and grow internally. Or, it could look externally and see who was out there already doing what the firm wanted to do that might make a good fit. Dixon Hughes and Rhea & Ivy had known each other for years, as they were members of the same accountancy association. The two firms recognized much of themselves in each other and had goals that matched up. Among those, Dixon Hughes had industry specialties that were relevant to the Memphis market, such as healthcare, financial institutions, and financial services, that weren’t being addressed by Rhea & Ivy. It sounded like an immediate opportunity for both.
Once it began, the technological transition, too, was relatively seamless because Rhea & Ivy had already upgraded their software applications. “We weren’t on the bleeding edge but we certainly were on the leading edge,” Clark says.