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Tampa accounting firm splits

Earlier this year, John Sheahen began to realize that the accounting firm he joined almost 20 years ago was heading in different directions. Four, to be exact.

The Tampa firm, called Darby, Sheahen, Weissman, Morgenstern & Ferrell CPAs, has been dissolved as the eight remaining principals leave to start four smaller firms, Sheahen said Tuesday.

The breakup, effective Oct. 1, was amicable, Sheahen said. He does not anticipate any problem in dividing the business, and said clients will make their own decisions about which of the four firms to select for future business.

The firm was started in 1967 by Tampa accountant Richard Darby. Sheahen joined in 1971, and the firm continued to grow. In addition to the usual accounting work, such as tax returns and financial statements, the firm provided such specialized services as consulting on rates for water, sewer and other utilities, and valuating business losses in legal cases.

The firm, which grew to include about 20 professional and clerical employees, moved into about 5,000 square feet of office space in downtown Tampa's Barnett Plaza about three years ago.

But the principals' differences in management philosophy became apparent after founder Darby became semi-retired in late 1989, Sheahen said.

The partners decided earlier this year to split into four firms. The new firms are: Darby & Weissman, P.A., which will have an office in West Shore; Morgenstern & Co., which will be downtown; and Sheahen Rowlson & Messina, P.A., and Ferrell & Moses, which will have separate offices in Hyde Park.