It’s not about getting bigger BY DANIEL HOOD
Warren averett is big in a lot of
ways: it’s got the most CPas of any firm in
alabama, is one of the biggest firms in the
gulf Coast region, and posted by far the biggest growth figures of any firm in our 2012
top 100 list, with net revenues surging almost
130 percent in 2011.
so it’s a little surprising to find that growth
like that isn’t the first thing on their minds.
“We have no desire to be bigger and more
complicated,” said chief executive officer Jim
Cunningham. “but we’re willing to take those
steps in order to be better.”
The specific steps he’s referring to are or-
chestrating one of the larger and more com-
plicated mergers in recent history, combining
three midsized firms — Montgomery, ala.-
based Wilson, Price, barranco, blankenship
& billingsley; birmingham-based Warren,
averett, Kimbrough & Marino; and Pensac-
ola, fla.-based o’sullivan Creel — to create
a regional powerhouse with 11 offices, over
550 employees, six affiliate companies, and
25 practice areas.
again, though, mere size isn’t the point.
instead, it’s about the pursuit of two other
goals: “from the start, we really focused on
providing higher value to clients and opportunity for our people,” Cunningham said. “it
was never about getting bigger.”
Though an increase in size would be a side effect, what really drove Warren averett, Wilson
Price and o’sullivan Creel to start talking was
a common realization.
“all three firms recognized, as many firms
have, that our clients and the environment
they operate in has become more complex
and challenging,” Cunningham said. “our
strategy is to provide them the resources to
thrive in this environment. our clients are
multi-state, multinational, multi-line of busi-
ness — so combining our resources allows us
to serve our clients better.”
averett, Kimbrough & Marino,
began discussing the benefits of
joining firms. in october, Mort
o’sullivan, with o’sullivan
Creel, joined the discussion.
at that point, Wilson Price and
Warren averett were ready to
merge, Cunningham said, “but
having o’sullivan Creel enter
into the discussion made it even
more attractive for both Warren
averett and Wilson Price.”
The fact that leaders at all three firms had
known each other for some time certainly
helped. “We are all three members of the
leading edge alliance,” Cunningham noted.
“over the years, we developed a friendship
and a mutual respect. Through these rela-
tionships and the vision of our members, our
talks progressed rapidly. We finalized and
signed documents on January 1, and com-
pleted a roadshow on January 4 to different
locations to formally announce the news to
selling the team and the
firm’s clients on the benefits of
combining firms wasn’t hard,
according to Cunningham. “
everyone could see the vision of
why we were doing this, so they
were excited to be part of a better practice,” he said.
to start, the combination
made sense geographically.
Warren, averett, Kimbrough
When it came to practice areas and clients,
on the other hand, there was overlap, with
the firms focusing primarily on midsized and
large privately held businesses. The group
has particularly large practices in health care
Reinsel Kuntz Lesher:
Getting noticed BY DANIELLE LEE
If you’re lookIng to trace Pennsyl-
vania cPa firm reinsel kuntz lesher’s “road
to the 2012 top 100,” a little ncaa basketball-
style bracket may come in handy.
rkl’s founding in 2005, after a merger be-
tween Pennsylvania firms reinsel & co. and
kuntz lesher, belies the firm’s full history.
The story starts back in 1950, when kurtz, Mc-
naney & co. was established. That firm would
later merge with reinsel & co. in 2001. Mean-
while, kuntz lesher was founded in 1951 and
eventually became the largest cPa firm in
Pennsylvania’s lancaster county.
a year after it was established, rkl ac-
quired Miller and Miller cPas and merged
again in 2010, this time with Philip r. fried-
man and associates. the same year, rkl
merged Waterview It of nor well, Mass., into
the firm’s rkl esolutions subsidiary.
every transaction furthered rkl’s unique
market position in central Pennsylvania,
bringing enough double-digit growth in the
last year to elevate the firm to the top 100 for
the first time, at no. 92.
according to rkl ceo ed Monborne, the
firm’s size and location are two of its biggest
advantages. With a staff of 250 (including 35
partners), it occupies the ample gap between
its regional competitors, which
either have a staff of 1,000 or
more, or 100 or less. “We have
a very large sandbox to play in,”
he explained. “We have those
clients that want that personal
touch and don’t want to be a
number. We have the depth and
breadth to serve those clients, as
well as those that grow out of a
local firm, and need that depth
rkl’s depth is in audit and accounting, tax
services, business consulting, It consulting,
investment advisory, and the senior living
services consulting service line that it added
last year (which has been “going gangbusters,”
and should see at least 100 percent annual
growth, according to Monborne).
Monborne credits rkl’s nearly 13 percent
revenue growth in the last year — of which he
says at least half was organic — to the firm’s
marketing prowess, bolstered by the hiring
of a business development partner last april.
This partner, leading a decade-old marketing
team of three people, continued the firm’s
annual marketing blitzes.