For Berman Hopkins, Charity and Community is Just as Big

For the past 60 years, Berman Hopkins Wright & LaHam CPAs and Associates has established a reputation of as one of the largest independently owned CPA firms in Central Florida. With offices in Melbourne, Titusville and Orlando, there is a diverse client base that ranges from manufacturing/construction, high tech/software and the agricultural industry to corporate pension plans, government entities and private individuals. Across all, Berman Hopkins works closely with them, focusing on both potential and prosperity.

Yet, the firm’s biggest contributions to the region might come from efforts that have nothing to do with their clients’ bottom lines. Instead, it’s all about community contributions stemming from the firm’s overarching approach.

Phillip Hayes, Berman Hopkins’ managing partner, calls it “culture.”

“It’s the culture of the firm,” said Hayes, who is in his 19th year at the firm and is homegrown from Eau Gallie. “If your culture is compelling for people to support one another and support the community, it provides a place where people are proud to work and feel connected to each other. That’s always been a big part of our philosophy. … I think it’s a really important part of how we do business.”

Keeping the Culture

At Berman Hopkins, topics such as multistate taxation and strategic tax planning are comingled with “jeans day.”

On Fridays, in exchange for the privilege of dressing more casually (with jeans), staff members donate dollars, with the weekly average equaling roughly $500, or $25,000 annually. The giving — 100 percent employee-funded, voluntary and anonymous donations — has occurred for more than a decade, with the money going to an alternating list of charitable organizations. In addition, the firm donates on the corporate level.

All totaled, Berman Hopkins averages $100,000 annually in altruistic donations within the communities it serves.

Similarly, there’s the informal Berman Hopkins Run Club, established by staffers and involving several charitable runs throughout the year. With each mile walked or run, staffers raise funds and awareness for local charities. Meanwhile, most of the firm’s senior staff members sit on various boards for community organizations such as Junior Achievement, Boy Scouts of America, the King Center for the Performing Arts, Brevard Symphony, Family Promise of Brevard, The Parker Foundation, YMCA, United Way of Brevard and Space Coast Early Intervention, among others. Hayes is the immediate past board chairman for the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.

In addition, the corporate culture is enhanced through the firm’s philosophy of promotion from within, where talented staffers are given the opportunity to become partners in the firm.

Not coincidentally, Berman Hopkins Wright & LaHam CPAs and Associates was named the Melbourne Chamber’s 2018 Business of the Year — by virtue of innovative business strategies as well as community engagement.

“We have a responsibility to give back and to be thinking about your entire community, not just one part of the community that might be more self-serving,” Hayes concluded, also pointing to Titusville and Orlando. “We believe our firm has a social responsibility to the communities we live and work in, and makes significant efforts to support them.”

By: Mike Candelaria