On 1 September 1951, Don Roberts and Keith Crichton took over as principals of a small local Armidale Firm called HG Uther & Co, renaming it Crichton Roberts & Co. Jack Morrow was then admitted as a partner in 1954. When Keith Crichton retired in 1957 the practice continued with Don Roberts and Jack Morrow as principals and in February 1963, the firm changed its name to Roberts & Morrow.
Six decades on, we find ourselves celebrating the 70th anniversary during a COVID-19 pandemic! The business has grown significantly, with 16 Partners, over 140 employees, six specialist divisions and is spread across six locations in regional NSW and QLD.
In the early days, Beth Elliot, now retired, was one of the people who worked alongside Don Roberts and Jack Morrow. She remembers these days fondly:
“Don and Jack were wonderful bosses and very caring to staff,” she recalls.
“Don served in the Airforce during WWII and kept flying for many years. He was a true gentleman.
You were expected to work hard, but even from those early days, the Partners were very generous to the staff putting on many social activities to show their appreciation for our efforts.”
Beth describes Don and Jack as being similar in many ways.
“Jack, like Don, also served in WWII, he was known as a jovial man with a quick sense of humour by his colleagues, and was a bit of a poet, writing ‘Ode to DLR’ for Don Roberts upon his retirement.”
Margaret Creagan, another former colleague, joined Roberts & Morrow in 1970 when she was just 17 years old. By that time the Firm had grown to have four Partners. Margaret became the first Graduate Accountant for the Firm in 1980 when she completed her studies at UNE. Reminiscing about her 40+ years with R&M, Margaret commented:
“I remember the old switchboard telephone at the reception and doing the banking and wage books all by hand.
During those times, staff smoked at their desks, the dress code was very strict, and there wasn’t much air-conditioning or heating.
Silvia Grigg became the first female Partner in 1979 and around 1984 the first computer arrived at the office and that was the start of big change.”
Nowadays, many colleagues reflect on how much things have changed since those early days. Technology and software solutions have advanced considerably, creating efficiencies and streamlining business processes with the click of a button. We can connect with our clients no matter where they are in Australia and across the world. We are proud that around 60% of our staff are women, including six female Partners on our leadership team. The Firm has embraced flexible and remote working arrangements to support staff members with young families and to make it possible to enjoy a healthy work-life balance.
Over the years we have added specialist services as the demand has increased for expert knowledge and assistance in areas such as; superannuation, audit, financial planning, business advisory, IT services and most recently we have launched our legal solutions offering. We are proud to offer this sort of expertise to our clients no matter where they are located.
What started as a small firm in Armidale 70 years ago, grew as we opened offices in Glen Innes (1979), Narrabri (2014), Townsville (RMT 2015), Tamworth (merger with Plante Davis 2016) and most recently Brisbane (2021). We are passionate about our local communities and provide support by way of sponsorship and charitable donations to a range of community based organisations across areas such as; arts, music, sport, agriculture, education and local development projects.
One of the current Partners who leads the Glen Innes office, Jane Newsome, has summed up why it is important to celebrate 70 years as a Firm.
“It is important to acknowledge the founders and their vision. To celebrate our success for being here a long time. There aren’t a lot of Firms that have stuck to the cause and have remained true to themselves. It is all about longevity, legacy and looking forward. We’ve got to celebrate what we have done,” she said.
We want to pay tribute to our founders, Jack Morrow (below left) and the Late Don Roberts (below right). We thank all those who have helped us make this journey, including our past and present colleagues, clients, partners, and the wider community in our beautiful locations.
Don & Jack could not have known that the business and workplace culture that they created and nurtured 70 years ago would result in a Firm that is still going strong all these years later. We look forward to continuing their legacy on and seeing the next generation of leaders and team members take the Firm into the future!