BDO Alliance USA Member Spotlight – Julian. J. Rodriguez, P.A.
BDO Alliance USA Member Spotlight – Julian. J. Rodriguez, P.A.
BDO Alliance USA is among the industry’s largest associations of accounting and professional services firms in more than 800 locations nationwide. In this series, we introduce you to Alliance Member leaders who are making a difference in their firms.
Meet Julian J. Rodriguez, Founder and Managing Principal of Julian J. Rodriguez, P.A.
Located in Coral Gables, Fla., Julian J. Rodriguez, P.A. joined the BDO Alliance USA in 2020. Established by Julian J. Rodriguez, a former audit partner with what is now a Big 4 accounting firm, Julian J. Rodriguez, P.A. has a 35-year history of providing clients with the sort of service and individual attention typically associated with smaller firms.
Their services range from attest engagements to tax and consulting services. They pride themselves on getting to know their clients’ industries and the economic climate in which they operate.
How did you start your career, which eventually led to opening your own firm?
I started my career in public accounting at KMG Main Hurdman (now KPMG), becoming an audit manager and then partner. There, I worked with clients in a wide range of industries, with a particular emphasis in construction. I eventually left to spend two years in industry with a very large contracting firm in Palm Beach. During this time, I had young kids and the commute proved difficult, making it hard to spend time with my family. It was at this point that I decided to open my own practice. Now, 36 years later, after having started with zero clients, our firm is proud to service some large and medium-sized construction and technology companies. In the last decade, the firm has been involved in the entertainment industry as well, focusing on Hispanic artists.
Once you decided to open your own firm, how long did it take to add people to your team?
I first hired a technology professional at the beginning and then a manager with expertise in the construction industry, and we just grew from there. I almost always bring in people that I know or that have been referred to us. I like to think that’s a factor in our firm’s success; we are a huge family. I’ve known Tenille Fabian, who heads up our tax department, since she was two years old. My son, Julian A. Rodriguez, was a manager at KPMG for six years before coming over to work at the firm. He has since taken over the audit practice and, during his first year, made our firm completely paperless on the audit side. Four years ago, both he and Tenille were made equity partners. We currently have 15 other employees on our team. We give a lot of flexibility to our people, which makes for an excellent work-life balance.
What has helped fuel your firm’s growth over the years?
Being in the right place at the right time. There has been significant growth in Florida and most specifically in the Miami area. I do believe now that if not for the Cuban influx, Miami would not be what it is today. Referrals have been a source of growing international work for us, which include multiple technology and manufacturing clients.
What are you most proud of being the Managing Partner?
I’m most proud of the people I’ve mentored over the years. Not just staff, but clients too. We believe in service above all costs, and as a result, I have clients that have been with me since day one. After 35 years in business, you don’t have that unless you have a great relationship, of which I am very proud.
Tell us about your childhood and how you got to where you are today.
I came to Florida (Key West) when I was nine years old, along with my younger brother. We were part of Operation Pedro Pan that took place from December 1960-October 1962, where more than 14,000 Cuban youth arrived alone in the United States. It’s still considered the largest recorded exodus of unaccompanied minors in the Western Hemisphere. Cuban parents, fearing indoctrination and that the Cuban government would take away their parental authority, worked with the Catholic Church and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami to facilitate the transfer. It wasn’t until I became an adult and a father that I realized the sacrifice my parents made by sending me and my brother to Florida from Cuba. Our freedom was more important than having us at home. It was very difficult, but a choice that forever affected my future.
BDO USA’s South Florida Managing Partner, Tony Argiz, had a similar experience and he and I have been friends and colleagues since we were 18 years old. In fact, we played college baseball together; I played for Biscayne College and Tony played for Florida International University.
Who was your mentor growing up?
My father. He was an extremely respected individual. The sacrifice he made for his family forever rewarded us in the end. A priest friend once told me, “Life is a straight road with a bunch of crooked intersections.” I believe that wholeheartedly.
What is your favorite thing to do when not working?
My favorite thing is playing golf, although I’m not very good at it. I just love the game. I’ve always been into sports though, starting at a young age with baseball, basketball, and football.
What’s on your bucket list?
I have a few things on that list: (1) To be around as long as I can. I’ve been married for 45 years to my beautiful wife and would like to grow older together and enjoy our grandkids. We have four, with one on the way. (2) Play Pebble Beach. While most folks can’t say that they have played the course in Augusta, I’m lucky to say that I have – all due to a relationship with a kid I coached in school many years ago, and we’ve remained friends all these years. He was Chief Operating Officer at McDonald’s and called me to ask if I would like to join him. It was a great experience, and we even had dinner in the trophy room. So, while I have had the luxury of playing a famous golf course already, I still want to play at Pebble Beach! And (3) enjoy a nice transitioning of our firm.
If you could go back, what advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
Don’t be so intense!
What would you like to share about your experience with the BDO Alliance USA?
Having personally come from a big firm environment, I know that our membership in the Alliance has given us an opportunity to expand our horizons. We constantly meet great quality people, and that connection also gives our firm more credibility. We are still an independent firm, but the Alliance offers us stature and exposure.
We especially use the technical resources, and our relationship partner, Anna Brosche, is amazing. She helps us with everything, including making connections. Our Alliance Champion is BDO’s Danny Castro, Tax Office Co-Managing Partner, who just happens to be a lifelong friend of my son Julian since grade school. They went to the University of Florida together, and it was Danny who actually referred us to join the program and who continues to be a great resource to us.