Thomas R. Wicks’ clients received a strange message on their tax organizers this year. As always, he signed each one personally—but this time, he included the words, “PS: I quit.”
Wicks wrote that in jest … sort of. The accountant, businessman and founder/partner of Wicks Emmett LLP wasn’t quitting. He was announcing his retirement after a successful five-plus decade career.
“It’s been 55 tax seasons, and that’s enough,” he laughed.
From his simple beginnings as a staff accountant in 1964 to his retirement from his own thriving firm in 2018, Wicks has seen it all in the accounting world—from a 91 percent highest marginal federal tax rate when he completed his first returns to today’s 37 percent rate, and everything in between.
His business and accounting success stem from a strong foundation of integrity, perseverance and hard work.
Building a Foundation
A native of Cottage Grove, Oregon, Wicks graduated from high school in 1959. He headed to Oregon State College to become an engineer, thanks to the demand for engineers after the launch of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik satellite two years earlier.
After deciding that engineering wasn’t the ideal career path for him, Wicks decided to pursue accounting. In 1963, he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Oregon and became a CPA.
Wicks and his wife, LaVonne, moved to Roseburg, where he went to work for a fledgling accounting firm with offices in Eugene and Roseburg. The firm’s two partners ultimately parted ways, and the Roseburg practice was sold to Wicks.
Meanwhile, the Wicks settled into the Umpqua Valley community, devoting their time to community and civic affairs. Over the years, Tom has served in leadership roles with the Roseburg Chamber of Commerce, the Roseburg Kiwanis Club, the Roseburg Country Club and the Chamber Greeters.
Building a Business
After Wicks took ownership of the accounting firm in 1968, he formed T.R. Wicks and Company and relocated the office to a downtown space on Jackson Street.
Over the next five decades, Wicks added to his accounting and leadership staff as his client base multiplied. He started with only two employees—but by 2018, Wicks Emmett LLP has grown to seven partners and more than 30 additional CPAs, accountants, bookkeepers and support staff.
As partners and accountants joined the team over the past 50 years, the firm’s expertise and areas of specialty diversified. Wicks and his partners served—and continue to serve—a range of industries that reflect Douglas County’s ever-changing landscape.
The firm now offers a full complement of accounting services, from individual tax preparation to contract CFO consulting.
Building a Future
After 55 years of serving the accounting needs of his clients, Wicks is passing his legacy to the capable hands of Wicks Emmett’s partners.
“We have a talented staff, qualified people and managers who are maintaining and building our client base,” Wicks says. “I feel good about what we’ve built and where it’s going.”
As for Wicks’ retirement years, he plans to continue doing what he loves—spending time with his grandchildren (and great-grandchildren!), indulging his passion for underwater and wildlife photography and traveling to the most beautiful places in the world. More about that in an upcoming blog …