These days, when only 20 percent of U.S. businesses survive year one, it is a major accomplishment when a business reaches a milestone anniversary such as 25, 50, or 75 years in business. But how many make it beyond that point to their centennial celebration?
Only about 0.5 percent of businesses survive for an entire century, according to a Standard & Poor’s analysis done for USA Today. And one Tacoma accounting firm, The Doty Group, hit this rare milestone a couple of years back, when it celebrated its 100th birthday.
The Doty Group launched in 1918 with four manufacturing company clients that are still with the business today. Now, the firm boasts customers in several industries, but the original four have long been part of the brand’s bread and butter.
“Nurturing the relationships (with our clients) has always been the main priority,” said Paul Doty, The Doty Group’s managing partner.
Though The Doty Group has been around a long time, the firm’s brand has gone through many iterations. When the business opened its doors as the first accounting firm in Tacoma, it was known as Busch and Webb.
The name morphed as new partners, all of whom rose from in-house, took over. It became Allen, Nelson, Turner and Rush, then Allen, Nelson, Turner & Co. Next it became Doty, Beardsley, Rosengren & Co. In 2015, it was rebranded to its current title, with Doty as managing shareholder and Dianne Stoehr and Shelley Drury as additional shareholders.
“Busch and Webb didn’t just start the first CPA firm in Tacoma; they built a foundation of relationships with clients and the community,” Doty said of the firm’s founders.
Customer service has been another high priority for the firm. Much has changed over the last 100 years, and the economy has fluctuated and evolved. But it’s the top-notch customer care that has kept the company in business, Doty said.
“Our bonds strengthened over time,” he said. “The company culture always centered around caring for its clients with excellent customer service. That foundation resists being shaken by economic downturns, personal challenges, and changes to the industry.”
The company can’t divulge the names of its current customers, but it can boast the now-defunct firm St. Paul & Tacoma Lumber Company as one of its former clients.
The Doty Group has stayed mostly in the downtown core, with the exception of about 10 years at the Tacoma Mall Office Building.
Its new office downtown reflects its many years of business. From the midcentury decor to the historical relics showcasing the company’s past signage and accolades, the office shows its perseverance.
With all those years under its belt, the company knows that the only constant is change. As clients’ needs evolve, The Doty Group adjusts its offerings.
“Our services are expanding based on our clientele’s needs,” said Sarah Gray, The Doty Group marketing supervisor. “For example, we’ve added a staff attorney, and we are now doing estate planning for the children of our original clients.”
Trends in the accounting industry are forcing the firm to change as well. A hundred years ago, the industry was mostly bookkeeping. Now, the company must adapt to hot trends like block-chain technology. If The Doty Group keeps adapting the way it has, another centennial celebration in 2118 is highly likely.