BDO Alliance USA Member Spotlight – Tim Petrey

BDO Alliance USA is among the industry’s largest associations of accounting and professional services firms in more than 900 locations nationwide. In this series, we introduce you to Alliance Member leaders who are making a difference in their firms.

Meet Tim Petrey, CGMA, CPA, Managing Partner of HD Growth Partners

Based in Youngstown, Ohio with additional offices in Newbury and Warren, HD Growth Partners (formerly HD Davis CPAs) recently became part of the Ascend platform. In partnership with Ascend, they are now under the umbrella of HD Growth Partners. They remain independently owned and value their firm as one that prides itself on being solution-obsessed, leaving black-and-white accounting behind and moving into the colorful world of integrative problem solving. They are 100% dedicated to their employees and attribute their success to the fact that “happy people” equals “shared success.”

Tim’s background is nothing short of amazing. His childhood was difficult after his mother’s death at the age of four years old and a father who was not involved in his life; he was ultimately raised by his mother’s family. He and his brother, whom he is very close with, realized they did not have many options to fall back on when it came to their future. Tim’s story began with hard work, determination, and kindness, which is very much how he manages HD Growth Partners today. Throughout Tim’s life, people he met took a genuine interest in his success and were willing to spend extra time on him. He now returns the favor any chance he gets, remembering where he came from, what obstacles he had to endure, and the help and guidance he received.

Tell us about the mentors in your life.

I was blessed to have mentors along the way that made a huge difference in my life. Many aren’t lucky enough to have had any, but I have had three that made huge impacts at pivotal moments.

My first mentor was a guidance counselor in high school who saw my potential and, most importantly, saw that I was not living up to it. I was making poor decisions and he called me out on them. He encouraged me to enroll in college classes through a Senate bill that was offered to high school students in Ohio at the time. I was able to drop out of high school and complete college while working full-time. The relationships I developed with professors and students were as valuable as the education I received.

I met my second mentor in the summer of 2009: Harold Davis, founding partner of the firm. We were introduced by a mutual friend for what was supposed to be a temporary position at HD Davis CPAs. I started working as the receptionist and moved up from there. Harold spent a tremendous amount of time mentoring me and bringing out my potential; I, in return, would work my tail off to show my gratitude. Years later, in 2015, I became partner and took over the operations of our firm later that year.  

My third mentor has been Gary Shamis of BRN firm Winding River Consulting. I have spent a lot of time with him, and he has given me so much guidance throughout the years. He and Chuck Mullen, Chairman of Alliance firm Apple Growth Partners, both introduced me to the BDO Alliance USA, as they felt our firm was ready to join and take that next step of growth.

How did you choose accounting?

I was originally interested in pre-med but didn’t love it. I took an accounting class and didn’t hate it. It was that simple. I felt that accounting would be a safe job and recession-proof, and the rest is history. I would soon learn that the profession allowed me to help people beyond the numbers.

Tell us about HD Growth Partners. What makes your firm stand out from the rest?

Our firm has been recognized nationally for our culture. Accounting Today named us a 2023 Best Firms to Work For/Midsized Employer (50-249 employees) as well as a #1 Firm for Women in 2022. We have also been named a Top Ten firm for the last two years amongst small/medium-sized firms and made the Ohio 500 list in 2022 and 2023. Personally, I have been recognized as one of 15 most powerful and influential Ohio leaders, and a 40 under 40 by CPA Practice Advisor.

We thrive on being a place where people want to work. We act as coaches to our clients, instilling a growth mindset that enables them to build their own futures in a way that creates economic and community impact. We are problem solvers more so than accountants, coaching our clients to excellence, much like a personal trainer, and holding them accountable to their highest potential.

In 2022, we purchased and renovated a 30,000-square foot facility. It was a huge risk at the time, because we weren’t sure what the right path forward was for our firm after the pandemic. Instead of going fully remote, we decided to go all-in on our space to make it a place where people wanted to work. We never forced our team back to the office, but we built a space that they wanted to come back to. Today, we have a mixture of remote, hybrid and fully in-person employees; we give them the flexibility to choose where they want to work.  

Tell us about HD Growth Partners’ community outreach.

Community involvement is extremely important to our firm and written into our incentive plan. Our staff is required to participate in at least five events over the course of the year. We pay them, too, for the hours they dedicate to those efforts. We also pick a nonprofit organization each year that the staff votes on, and the firm then matches contributions made to that organization. Last year, we were able to collectively donate close to $25,000 to our chosen charity.

Tell us more about your family.

I am married to my beautiful wife Carla of 12 years. We were actually high school sweethearts. We have two sons, Nathan (age 7) and Nolan (age 4). They enjoy basketball and most recently golf, which I love. Because of my childhood, I am very aware that I only have 18 summers with them, and my wife and I use that time wisely, spending as much time together as we can.

If you could go back, what advice would you give your younger self?

Do a better job of taking care of yourself. I gained a lot of weight at one point, and it took a while to get it off. You are much more productive when you are healthy and take care of yourself. At HD Growth Partners, we have a Wellness Coordinator, Laura Crowgey, who consistently sends healthy tips to staff, coordinates exercise activities (such as tax season walks), and shares breathing and meditation exercises. We also provide an annual wellness reimbursement to our staff.  

To quote Tom Hanks, “When things are good – this too shall pass; when things are bad – this too shall pass. Time is your ally and if nothing else, just wait it out. During our highest highs or lowest lows, this too shall pass.” I try to remind myself daily that nothing is permanent.

What do you do in your spare time?

Being a dad and husband is a full-time job/privilege and what I enjoy. I also love to travel. My brother and I made a pact a few years ago that we would be intentional about spending time together. Our mother passed when she was 40 years old; my brother is close to that age now, and I am in my 30s. Because of our background and not-so-ordinary childhood, we decided to plan one adventure each year together. We’ve golfed Pebble Beach, saw the Chiefs play the Bears at Soldier Field, and have plans to travel to special places going forward.  

What is on your bucket list?

Play golf in Scotland and visit New Zealand and Australia.

What would you like to share about your experience with the BDO Alliance USA?

We appreciate the networking opportunities and the sense of community that we have found here. We attend the annual conference and local Ohio meetings and enjoy meeting firms and leaders like us. We can bounce ideas off one another and share that knowledge.