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Axley & Rode honored as medium business of the year
Posted 09 - 24 - 2009
Pictured are managing partners of the Axley & Rode, LLP Nacogdoches office Lee Smith, left, and Joe Aguilar.
(photo by Bruce R. Partain)

Axley & Rode honored as medium business of the year
By Barbara Holl, executive assistant
Nacogdoches County Chamber

For more than 60 years, Axley & Rode, LLP has provided exceptional service to clients, providing accounting, auditing, tax advice, outsourcing and consultation.

Axley & Rode is the largest accounting firm in the East Texas area, serving more than 5,000 clients. The firm employs more than 70 people, including 16 partners and 27 CPAs. Ten of those employees are in the Nacogdoches office managed by partners Lee Smith and Joe Aguilar.

Branch L. Axley and Carl F. Rode formed their partnership in 1949 in Lufkin. “When Byron Smith opened the Nacogdoches office in 1972, it was just him,” said Lee Smith. “This was the first branch location and paved the way for future expansion.”

Offices in Crockett, Livingston, Austin and Jasper were added later when the company merged with established accounting firms.

Even as the firm grows, clients mention the personal service they receive.

Bright Coop’s Charles Bright said, “To be a success in business you need a good attorney, accountant, and preacher. Axley & Rode fills their roll as a great accountant. My brother and I worked with Branch Axley starting in 1947 and later with Byron Smith and now Lee Smith. After all this time we ought to get a discount.”

Client Denise McDonald coordinates the books for her husband’s law firm, Stuckey, Garrigan, & Castetter.

“Axley & Rode is always easy to work with,” McDonald said. “The accountants take as much time as needed to help you. I started using them after taking the QuickBooks seminar held at the chamber. Lois Jackson has worked remotely via the Internet with me, and helped me tremendously with QuickBooks. I appreciate their professionalism.”

Bill Elliott, president of long-time client Elliott Electric, said he recognizes the value of the creative advice Axley & Rode provides.

“Axley & Rode’s Byron Smith has always been a great advisor,” Elliott said. “It was Smith’s innovative suggestion to reorganize our company that saved us thousands of dollars in taxes.

“When Elliott Electric was audited, Axley & Rode defended us and proved why everything was correct. I consider Byron Smith more than just our accountant, he is our friend.”

Axley & Rode has made good use of the proximity of Stephen F. Austin State University, hiring for part time positions one or two accounting students each year, and providing them with valuable, real life accounting experience.

Justin Matthews, former student employee said, “While I was a college intern, Axley & Rode, LLP tested me with challenges, entrusted me with responsibility and presented me with a unique opportunity to gain experience in my chosen profession. The men and women of the firm were attentive mentors, thorough teachers, and untiring co-workers. My time with them has proven to be an invaluable asset to me in both my college and professional career."

The company seeks continuous improvement in its profession.

“With the aim of providing professional quality control standards, Axley & Rode is a member of the Private Companies Practice Sections of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA),” Lee Smith said. “The AICPA requires our professionals to get continuing professional education yearly and AICPA periodically reviews the firm’s practices.”

Partners are active in the local community.

Lee Smith has volunteered as chamber treasurer since 2007.

Partner Joe Aguilar served as chamber treasurer from 2004 to 2007. He also assisted in setting up the 501(c) 3 corporation for the East Texas Area Foundation. Aguilar was president of the Fredonia Rotary Club in 2008.

Lois Jackson has taught five QuickBooks courses for chamber members and guests, with the firm donating proceeds to the chamber. The firm has contributed many hundreds of hours for other local non-profits. Both Aguilar and Smith have volunteered for several other organizations, including the Nacogdoches Dragon Athletic Booster Club, East Texas Area Foundation, Accounting Advisory Board for SFA and the Blood Center of East Texas.

The philosophy of Axley & Rode can be summarized in a few points:

· To provide the finest auditing, accounting, tax and consulting services

· To help each client reach their maximum potential

· To be a firm that is enjoyable to work for and rewarding to work with

· To contribute to our community and the profession to which we belong

· To grow, but never lose the local identity and personal relationship with clients that is the foundation of our practice.

Accountants have always labored diligently in their profession, enduring some good-natured ribbing along the way.

The truth of course is that business people rely on the expertise of firms such as Axley & Rode to guide them to profitability.

And the profits of business drive the entire economy.

And that is something everyone can count on.


The chamber will honor Axley & Rode, LLP at the 88th Annual Meeting and Membership Banquet on Tuesday, Sept. 29, in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a raffle and social hour. The program and dinner will begin at 7 p.m.

Other award recipients will also be recognized at the event, including Small Business of the Year, Glass Castles Stained Glass Studio 7 Gifts; Large Business of the Year, NIBCO, Inc.; and Citizen of the Year, Dr. Patsy Hallman.

The 2009-2010 chamber board of directors will be installed at the event.

The 88th Annual Meeting and Membership Banquet committee members are Chairwoman Betty Shinn, Charlotte Ashcraft, Corey Ashley, Jan Dawley, Donna Finley, Michael Martin, Laurie McCollough, Will Scott, Scarlett Sloane and Paul Smith III.

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