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Marking 75 years of service

Local public accounting firm Hoffman and Brobst is celebrating a couple of important milestones this year

May 21, 2012
By Karin Elton , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - Seventy-five years of service as a public accounting firm, including 40 years of a partnership between John Brobst and Brian Hoffman, equals the makings of a reason to party. To celebrate 75 years of business, a reception from 3-6 p.m. Wednesday will take place at the Marshall Golf Club. In addition, the two certified public accountants will officially announce their retirement.

The two attribute their successful relationship to their complementary personalities.

"People who are clones of each other don't do as well," Brobst said.

The remaining partners, Gary St. Aubin, Patrick Louwagie and Barry Evenstad, all have different contributions to bring to the firm as well, Brobst said.

Brobst said there has been a transition plan in place for three years now.

"They (the partners) disbursed the client workload. It went really smooth," he said.

"It's not like we're giving the reins over to someone new," Hoffman said.

Hoffman said Louwagie has been at the firm since about 1997, St. Aubin's been there about 30 years, and Evenstad about 31 years.

"We who will continue the firm are fortunate to have worked under the leadership and vision of those who have brought the firm to where it is today," said St. Aubin. "They've been great role models."

Brobst said he knew that it was time to retire.

"The time was just right," he said. "I could feel it."

Both Brobst and Hoffman will miss their clients.

"Sitting across the desk from someone you've worked with for over 30 years and telling them you won't be here next year, it's hard," Brobst said. "I'll miss them, but change is good."

Hoffman said 40 years of partnership is a milestone as is 75 years of the firm's existence.

Hoffman's father, Lee Hoffman, started the firm in 1937. His mother, Anne Hoffman, worked alongside him until about 1975. Lee Hoffman worked at the firm until 1982. He started out on Main Street in the offices above Lilibet's, then the business was moved to the second story on 3rd and Main Street above what is now Blue Green. In 1957, the business moved a third time to offices across from what is now Freedom gas station. Brian Hoffman took over in 1972, along with Brobst. Since 1972, the firm has had five partners and 21 other professional and support staff with offices in Marshall, Granite Falls and Minneota. The partners bought the current building in 1978. Services provided at the firm include tax planning and return preparation, auditing and financial planning.

"Clients of my father's from the Marshall area would move to the Twin Cities and continue to do business with us and the business would continue to the next generation," Hoffman said.

Hoffman attributes the success of the firm to the quality of the staff and to the use of technology.

Technology has allowed the firm to "service clients from a distance," Brobst said.

To keep up with technology and their profession in general, the CPAs receive continuing education.

"It's supposed to be 40 hours a year, but you can't get it all done in that time," Brobst said. "It's more like 50 or 60 hours."

Brobst and Hoffman both will miss the conferences where they learned new information about their profession and also got to "meet with other professionals," Hoffman said.

The two have enjoyed working in Marshall.

"Working in a town like Marshall has been satisfying," Hoffman said. "When we first started out, the population here was around 6,000. We graduated from here and our kids graduated from here. Choosing a city to live in is about where do you want to raise your kids. The opportunity was here and it's been really good."



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