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Tom Tucker’s novel career reaches its epilogue

Creating a legacy is not something that happens overnight. Much like building a career, a legacy is a challenging and rewarding endeavor often spanning decades of an individual’s lifetime. We at Tax Management Associates (TMA) are so fortunate that Tom Tucker decided to build his legacy here.

After more than three decades of leadership, TMA’s long-time Chief Operations Officer, Tom Tucker, has decided to start his next chapter – retirement. Since stepping into a TMA leadership position following the inception of the company, Tom has been here every step of the way as we grew from a staff of 10 to a staff of more than 160. The wisdom associated with Tom’s experience helped navigate TMA through these years of growth and change.

Tom’s work legacy will be remembered for many reasons, but especially for his creation of processes essential to our business functions and how he has shared and transferred this knowledge. For many of Tom’s years with us, he has worked closely with Dale Baker as the Deputy Chief Operations Officer. We are pleased to announce that with Tom’s retirement, Dale will be our new Chief Operations Officer.

When I asked Dale to reflect on his years of knowing Tom, the great memories were abundant:

“When thinking about my time working alongside Tom, a certain song lyric from the 60s comes to mind: “how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?” We have worked together since my first day with TMA over 33 years ago. I started as an entry-level auditor, and on my first day I watched Tom conduct business personal property reviews for Stanley County, North Carolina. Although we had a portable laptop computer, his tools of the trade were a columnar pad, calculator, and a mechanical pencil. On that day, Tom taught me that you treat the largest taxpayer, or the smallest taxpayer within the jurisdiction, with the same level of respect. Tom is always polite, professional, and thorough in explaining every decision. Learning from him to kick off my career with TMA was enlightening.

Tom’s respectfulness is a trait that I admire most about him. Similar in his standard of treatment for our taxpayers, he treated the most seasoned associate at TMA and any new hire with the same attention. Tom possesses the unique ability to address any situation, good or bad, and still not hold the bad against you. I found this trait very valuable as an auditor.

Personally, he has helped me and many others at TMA grow professionally, which brings me back to the lyric – “how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?” One way to thank Tom is by displaying the qualities he taught us and ensuring his legacy lives on.

We never thought this day would come because of how much Tom loves TMA, but he has earned this retirement, and we hope he enjoys it to the fullest.”

When I asked Ryan Hunter, Marketing Director, how Tom has impacted him he shared the following: “Sometimes you are fortunate and blessed enough that you get to travel and spend life with someone that has knowledge far beyond your industry.  For over 13 years, I got to do just that. I will miss spending hours upon hours dissecting ideas and talking about the most controversial topics that the world has to offer.  He has been there for me during the most impactful seasons. He was even the first person I called when I met my wife and he coached me along the way to now having four kids. Thanks Tom, I’ll send you the bill! There is only one Tom Tucker. You’ll always be a dear friend to me and I’ll see you at the golf course; or when you need me to fix an electronic of yours; or when you need me to remind you of your passwords.”

One of the best things about Tom is that there were not many questions employees or clients could ask that he could not answer. When I asked Tom, “As you reflect on your time with TMA, what stands out to you?” He left me with an acronym – ADIOS. Access, Develop, Individual, Opportunity,  Service. He explained it as follows:

Access: My career with TMA has allowed me to know coworkers that have grown with me over the years, colleagues that guided and encouraged me, business representatives who have challenged me to be prepared, and government officials who have honored me with the right to represent them.

Develop: To see an idea flourish into an industry by standards achieved, taxpayers’ acceptance of this fair process, and monitoring by paying it forward.

Individual: My bucket will have spectacular memories: friendships, president circles, auditor seminars, PPS designation, and travels throughout the United States, to name a few.

Opportunity: What a great country that allowed an entry-level appraiser to aspire to this fantastic career with TMA. A partnership with an entrepreneur, Richard “Dick” Cooke, Sr., initially allowing a single NC County to establish the mass appraisal of vehicles in all 100 NC Counties, led to the launch of yet another County service – Business Personal Property reconciliations.

Service: Spending an entire lifetime in a “niche” business that significantly benefited the public good. Being fair and equitable to all and playing some part in establishing this process Nationally has been incredibly rewarding.

As someone who enjoys a challenge, Tom will miss the various ones that arise. His advice for those not yet at the retirement phase of their career is to work as long as you can if you really enjoy what you are doing. He looks forward to the flexibility to work, play, do missions, and spend time with his wife and five fabulous grandkids. When asked if he has a to-do list waiting for him, “I always have a list, her list.”

Although this is not goodbye for Tom, he is just saying “ADIOS” for now! Please join us in wishing him the best in a well-deserved retirement.

“I’m not sure I could ever adequately put into words the sincere thanks I have for Tom’s leadership over the last 37 years. No one has earned a happy retirement more. All of us at TMA hope to see Tom on a regular basis when he has finished a round of golf or a well-deserved vacation with family. This industry would be less bright without his steadfast leadership and we all hope nothing for the best for him going forward.”

– Chip Cooke, Chief Executive Officer

“Although I have been in the local and state government sector for 35 years, I have only been with TMA for 7 1/2 of those years. During these years at TMA, Tom was hugely instrumental in assisting me to learn the ins and outs of the business. His knowledge and experience go unmatched. Between the two of us there were not many people or past stories in the industry we were not aware of. Those reminiscing moments accounted for many fond memories and laughs during our tenure together at TMA. Tom will be greatly missed by employees, clients, and counterparts. I wish him much happiness and wonderful experiences at his new stage in life. Thank you, Tom!” 

– Jay Taranto, Chief Revenue Officer