By Maggie Caraway
For the Opelika Observer

Hilyer & Associates certified public accountants (CPAs) is celebrating its 50th Anniversary. The accounting firm has been rooted in Opelika for nearly half a century. The firm has had four locations across the city of Opelika and now stands on 614 Second Ave., right across from where the original building stood. The firm assures clients that their accounting needs will be met no matter the size. Hilyer & Associates provide clients with a customized plan and “help clients maintain financial viability in the present, while taking a proactive approach to achieve future goals,” according to its website. 

Hilyer & Associates began in 1971 when Ray Henderson formed his own accounting firm under the name G. R. Henderson, CPA. Jeff Hilyer became a part of the firm in 1983 and formed a partnership with Henderson. By 1987, the firm was renamed Henderson & Hilyer CPAs. Henderson retired in 1996 and the staff of Novelli, Ennis & Company, Levins & Associates and John E. Crofton CPAs, joined Hilyer and Associates, CPAs in the following years. 

Hilyer, a certified public accountant and attorney, was born in Opelika and earned a B.S. degree in business administration with a concentration in accounting from Auburn University. He also earned a J.D. degree from Jones School of Law as well as an LL.M. from Alabama School of Law. He is married to Cherry McDonald Hilyer who was also born in Opelika. After spending 32 years teaching kindergarten, Cherry now works as a part-time tutor at Carver Primary School.

Hilyer follows in the footsteps of his grandfather and mother who were also accountants. Accounting must be in his blood because according to Hilyer, it came naturally. 

“When I was at Southern Union and took the accounting courses, I didn’t have to study. I could just sit and listen in class and ace the exams,” Hilyer said. That was not the case for all his classes, though. Hilyer remembers struggling through chemistry but breezing through the accounting courses during his first two years. However, as he advanced in his accounting studies and attended Auburn University, he admitted that a little more effort was required to excel in his work. 

Hilyer has left his mark on the community by currently serving as chairman for the Opelika Utilities Board as well as previously serving as chairman for the Opelika City of Commerce. He was also involved in the Kiwanis Club for 30 years and served as president. The idea of “community” is a common theme when Hilyer looks back on his time spent working in Opelika. 

“It’s important to give back to the community. I feel like the community has given a lot to us, and we need to give back,” Hilyer said.

After much thought, Hilyer came up with one word to describe how he is feeling about his clients and community: blessed.

Fifty years in Opelika is something to celebrate. Congratulations to Hilyer & Associates, CPAs! Here’s to another 50 years.