Reynolds Bone & Griesbeck Rolls Along With Changing City


The accounting firm of Reynolds Bone & Griesbeck PLC has been around since 1916, when it was known as Shannon Reynolds & Bone.

John Griesbeck, managing partner, said his grandfather, Joseph George – known as J.G. – came aboard in the 1920s. It was a time when the financial center of the city was Downtown among the bales of Cotton Row and banks on Madison Avenue. Such a history carries with it the scent of ink, the image of green eyeshades and heavy, leather-bound ledgers.

Though the basics might be the same – still using the numbers 1 through 10 – the methods certainly have changed. Reynolds Bone & Griesbeck have found their place within the 21st century by expanding services as the needs of their clients change and grow. They are aware that the younger generation is their future as well, and have recently entered the social network fray with a page on Facebook, a Twitter account and a YouTube channel. Where does tweeting and blogging fit in with the image of number crunchers?

Reynolds Bone & Griesbeck PLC principals are Lee Griesbeck, Richard Saviori, John Griesbeck, Billy Griesbeck, Skeet Haag, Paul Pennebaker and Tom Sullivan.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

“It’s primarily to stay in touch with the younger people in the profession and the students in the universities,” Griesbeck said. “That’s how they communicate with one another.”

Services include tax preparation and planning, inventory control and management, audit work, and mergers and acquisitions. Clients come from the distribution, manufacturing, real estate and nonprofit industries. The way in which CPA firms work and service clients is constantly evolving as the tax code changes and businesses merge.

“In the last 30 or 40 years, a much more prevalent thing has been consulting services, whether it’s helping them with structuring their business, the type of entity they choose to operate, tax planning and changes in estate tax or estate planning, things to help people take the best advantage as they can in the tax law,” Griesbeck said.

In the future, he sees the furthering of business advisory and consulting services in the retirement area as more and more baby boomers face retirement. Businesses will be looking more at asset protection and maximizing profitability and cash flows, as well as assisting clients in financing transactions such as bank loans or stock offerings. More services “other than the audit, what we know as more compliance services.”

It’s this looking toward the future that has kept Reynolds Bone & Griesbeck a growing and thriving institution in the region for so long, now with nearly 50 employees. The 2011 study “Trends in the Supply of Accounting Graduates and the Demand for Public Accounting Recruits” from the American Institute of CPAs shows that the hiring of CPAs right out of college nationally has gone from fewer than 15,000 in 1975, when Griesbeck first entered the business, to more than 30,000 by the end of 2010. It’s a trend Griesbeck sees in the trenches.

“Accounting has become popular again, very popular,” he said, and points to the old adage that even bad news is good news as large firms such as Enron, Arthur Andersen and WorldCom became household names. “People said, ‘Hey, there are things going on here that interest me, that I can work on. It’s an ever-changing profession. It’s got a lot of job opportunities,’ and now there are probably record numbers of accounting students in most universities. It’s a profession where people are finding jobs.”

His firm keeps in touch with these eventual accountants through social media and, once hired, the administration has given them the empowerment to help the firm become more involved in the community. A young professionals group was started for those employees under the age of 35 to provide such input.

“We wanted to get more interested in community projects and community service, and this group took the ball and ran,” Griesbeck said.

The result: the firm has done much-needed work cleaning up area apartment complexes and is working with Memphis Athletic Ministries on its golf course.

Reynolds Bone & Griesbeck has seen two world wars, a Great Depression and a dot-com bubble come and go. “Continually reinventing yourself” is how Griesbeck puts it when asked how a firm, or any business, might stay relevant for nearly a century. They have had some clients for more than 50 years, yet, instead of resting on those laurels, they maintain they’re in the relationship business and strive to stay engaged with the community and the industry.

“It’s interesting to know the history goes back that far,” Griesbeck said. “You take pride in the fact that you’re involved in a business that has gone through those things and is that old, but at the same time you know that today, tomorrow and every day going forward, that you’re continually having to earn your stripes and do the best to serve the clients.”