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Accounting firm unveils new name, Web site

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The latest in a series of recent changes for one Springfield accounting firm is a rebranding effort, complete with a new name and an updated Web site.

Springfield-based Whitlock, Selim & Keehn LLP is now The Whitlock Co.

Another recent first for the 23-year-old certified public accounting firm was its January 2007 merger with Springfield-based firm Patricia C. Stoner CPA PC.

Earlier this year, the firm had another first - expanding its reach into the Joplin region with the June opening of a Webb City office.

Investing in the future

The company, which posted 2007 revenues of $3.3 million and is on track to hit $4.5 million in 2008, spent an estimated $25,000 on the name change, including costs for signage, letterhead and the Web site, www.whitlockco.com, according to Managing Partner David Myers.

The firm enlisted creative help of Springfield-based advertising and marketing firm Schilling/Sellmeyer & Associates Inc. to handle the name change, Web site and new corporate look.

The Whitlock Co. left behind its deep blue color scheme for sage and black.

"We went with colors that we thought would lend more of a professional service image to the company, as opposed to bright retail-type colors," said Schilling/Sellmeyer President Don Schilling.

"Sage is a popular color right now. It's a nice color and somewhat understated ... but that's what people want from a professional accounting firm. You wouldn't go with any fluorescent colors or bright yellows," he added.

Myers said the firm's leadership talked about a name change for several years, but discussions of making the switch began in earnest six months ago.

The name game

Though one of the original namesake partners, David Keehn, is no longer with the firm, founding partners Barney Whitlock and Elmer Selim still work at The Whitlock Co.

But because ownership of the firm is spread out to include younger equity partners, Myers said keeping all names wasn't a necessity.

"You can keep trying to change, and every time you add a new partner put another name on there, but I think we're really trying to do the opposite and streamline it and have more of a permanent name moving forward," Myers said.

Schilling said his team took the accounting firm through the process of choosing a name that takes advantage of history and gives a nod to the future.

"With The Whitlock Co., the idea of including the (word) company is to show that there's more than just one person (and) the company is a group of people to serve the clients," Schilling said.

Myers said beyond the name, clients won't notice any changes.

"Their contact person hasn't changed. There's no change in the business format at all," he said. "Their experience is going to stay the same."

His biggest concern, he said, is taking the new name to the tri-state area via the Webb City office, because the firm hasn't been there as long.

"They haven't even really been through a tax season there yet, so maybe they're not as aware of us (with the old name) as we think they are," Myers said.

One aspect of the firm that hasn't changed, Myers said, is that it continues to provide the traditional services expected of a CPA firm - including tax returns and audits for businesses and individuals - and its focus on specific niches, such as community banks, higher education, estate planning and wealth management.

Myers said the firm's ability to hire and retain good employees remains a cornerstone.

"More than anything else, that (continuity) allows us to grow and change," Myers said.

He noted that in the last four years, the company has only lost one professional staffer, and that was to a client.

He said that while there aren't any immediate plans for additional mergers, he's not ruling them out someday, particularly as older accountants approach retirement and their practices are put on the market.

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