In college, I started off as an architecture major. After deciding that the major wasn’t for me, I worked my way to the College of Business. Once there, I learned that accounting is the language of business and could take me just about anywhere.
After college, I took a job at Arthur Andersen, at the time the largest firm in the world. I gained some great experience there but decided to “go back home” and do something that would be a bit more “one on one” with clients. I love it when a client leaves the office, feeling at peace about resolving a financial concern of some sort.
What experience do you have?
I graduated from DeKalb County High School in Smithville, Tennessee in 1980, and was awarded a valedictorian scholarship to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and graduated in 1985 with high honors.
I started preparing various tax returns 1986, after coming home to Smithville. I prepared the tax returns ink, by hand, as people waited across from my desk. That was a true learning experience because I had to prepare the return and make conversation at the same time (since I like to talk)! I became an artful user of that famous corrective fluid “liquid white out”.
I have seen many changes over the years – a lot of computerization and technology shifts. I have also witnessed the massive complexity that seems to pile onto the system every year. I make a concerted effort to stay current with the latest laws by attending many continuing education classes each year and doing lots of reading.
Tell us about “Young Tom”
I was born in Minnesota and attended school there until the fifth grade (I did walk to school in the snow). My mom was from Minnesota and my dad was from Tennessee – a recipe for cultural innovation. After many cold winters, Dad prevailed upon my mom to “go back home” … well, his home. To everyone’s surprise, I loved Tennessee from the moment I arrived. Great people, great food, and beautiful country to boot.
In high school, I loved being in band (trombone). I traded upon that experience to gain a band scholarship, to join the “Pride of the Southland Band” at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. It was amazing to be in UT’s band (and a lot of work). My freshman year we attended a bowl game and also marched in the Presidential Inaugural Parade in January 1981, Ronald Regan’s first term.
I’m proud to say that during my freshman year in the band, it was our group that “invented” singing along to “Rocky Top” – everyone dropped out, but the bases and the drums, with the rest of ous singing the chorus.
This invention added much joy to the Volunteer faithful and much chagrin to . . . well . . . the rest of the country. Go Vols! I still go back to UT every so often and play in the “Over the Hill Alumni Band”.
What’s Tom up to today?
Today, I am living right here in Smithville with my wonderful wife, Patricia. Patricia is conservator for her sister, Mary Kay, who has some intellectual disabilities and lives in Knoxville. We have a blast being with her – talk about a happy person!
I’m also involved in the local community. I have served as chairman of the County Commission Audit committee and also served on the Smithville Industrial Board. I’ve been involved on in so much stuff around here, well, one day I’ll have to write it all down. I love it all. I firmly believe you get more back from those experiences than you ever give.
I stay very busy with the accounting practice, but also enjoy working in the yard and “organizing stuff” around the house. Sadly, I just can’t stop myself – something about accounting, I think.
I also enjoy seeing friends and family and traveling as much as possible. I love the friendships that I’ve built in business over the years – that’s the best part about coming into the office!