Packer Thomas wins BBB honors for ethics

YOUNGSTOWN -- Packer Thomas, an accounting firm with offices in Youngstown and Warren, is one of five companies nationwide to be honored for its ethics by the Better Business Bureau.
Phillip Dennison, firm president, said he values the National Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics because an accountant should be seen as a trusted, independent adviser to business.
"We've spent two or three generations building our reputation, and we guard it very zealously because if we lose that, we've lost a lot," he said.
For Patricia Rose, president of the Better Business Bureau of Mahoning Valley, the award shows the quality of companies that are located here, despite the negative publicity that some receive.
Two other companies -- Gordon Bros. of Salem and American Beauty Landscaping of Boardman -- were finalists in the national competition.
These companies advanced from a local Torch Award competition. Rose said the local companies did so well in the national competition that she intends to make the local event a more high-profile affair next year.
Packer Thomas was honored Oct. 1 in Nashville. It won in the category for businesses from 11 to 99 employees. There were 2,200 nominees in the four categories.
What impressed judges: Rose said judges were impressed with how Packer Thomas deals with everyone it comes in contact with.
"The award speaks about what their company stands for, the way it treats its customers, the way it treats its competitors, the way it treats its employees and the way it treats the community," she said.
The BBB cited Packer Thomas' detailed quality control manual, which includes expected ethical behavior for its staff.
Dennison said the firm has walked away from clients who have asked it to do something unethical when handling the client's records. Accountants are to be independent when they review the books of businesses.
Dennison said the firm also was recognized for its ethical treatment of its staff and its community involvement.
The firm's professional staff is allowed to take time off in the latter part of the year for the extra hours that are required in tax season. The firm also has a mentoring process, which teams veteran employees with new employees.
The firm's employees also are active in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, United Way's Day of Caring, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mahoning Valley and other activities. They also serve on the boards of community organizations.
Size, history: The firm has about 40 workers in downtown Youngstown and 30 in downtown Warren. It also has a one-person office in Cleveland.
Dennison said the firm has been able to expand over the past 20 years even though most of its clients are in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys.
Dennison and about a dozen others came to the firm in 1993 when Ernst & amp; Young closed its Youngstown office. He and the others were allowed to take some clients and merge with Packer Thomas. Dennison became president in 1996.
The firm has operated under several names since it was founded in Youngstown in 1923. It became Packer Thomas in the late 1980s.