BDO To Acquire SS&G

BDO USA LLP, the seventh largest accounting firm in the country, will buy most divisions of Cleveland-based SS&G Inc. (FY13 net revenue of $90.5 million) to expand into the Ohio market, the Columbus Business First reported on Nov. 3.

“Ohio kept coming up as a state we should be in,” BDO CEO Wayne Berson told the newspaper. Chicago-based BDO (FY13 net revenue of $833 million) will retain SS&G’s 375 employees and all 13 offices, the firms announced this morning. SS&G has nine offices in Ohio, three in Illinois and one in New York. “We looked at where we are not (located), but the industries or the GDP and the futurists are all predicting that state will grow,” Berson says.

The deal is expected to close Jan. 1. SS&G Wealth Management, SS&G Healthcare and Paytime Integrated Payroll Services will remain separate, independent entities.

“We have an extremely successful practice and we weren’t looking to join a firm. It was too good of an opportunity to turn down,” says SS&G CEO Bob Littman, who will become MP of BDO Ohio.

“BDO wanted to get into Ohio in a very significant way and SS&G was the perfect way to do it. The fact that SS&G also had a significant presence in Chicago and a national restaurant practice was icing on the cake,” says Allan Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, who advised both firms on the merger.

SS&G co-founder Gary Shamis, who will remain in Cleveland with Littman, will become national strategy and growth adviser for BDO.  Shamis is a partner with Koltin in The Advisory Board, which owns and hosts the annual Winning is Everything conference. SS&G’s Michael Voinovich will become MP of what becomes BDO Columbus. Annette Hoelzer, co-managing director, will stay with the firm, the newspaper reported.

Berson says BDO plans national expansion of SS&G’s highly regarded restaurant practice. Mark Goldfarb, who helped found SS&G, says BDO Ohio can now compete in additional industries, such as hospitals and universities. SS&G was not allowed to bid in these industries because it didn’t have official credentials. BDO Ohio will also expand its depth in the construction industry, he says. Goldfarb will become Ohio MP for key client relationships.

Berson told Business First that SS&G met all three of BDO’s priorities for an Ohio partner: “Greater critical mass” in existing markets such as Chicago, expansion into new markets and additions to industry expertise.