BDO and CEA Merge, Expanding BDO’s San Diego Presence

Chicago-based BDO USA (FY15 gross revenue of $1.05 billion) has expanded its San Diego practice by adding 31 partners and staff from CEA of Carlsbad, Calif.

CEA serves privately held businesses in various industries, with a concentration of clients in the manufacturing, wholesale distribution, biotech, food and private equity industries. The combination of BDO and CEA, which brings total BDO staff in San Diego to 90, is expected to be complete on Dec. 1.

“Combined with other additions, BDO has expanded into 20 new cities and added to our critical mass in 11 existing markets over the past three years,” says Wayne Berson, CEO of BDO USA. “CEA’s entrepreneurial culture is a natural fit for BDO, and the firm’s deep-rooted presence in North County expands our footprint in the greater San Diego market.”

“BDO continues on its blazing trail of merging in firms,” says Allan D. Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, who advised both firms. “This one will be very helpful to BDO in expanding their existing presence in the San Diego market.”

He notes that CEA began looking for potential merger partners last March. “Even though CEA was a local firm, they were very successful in attracting larger clients and complex projects and felt that being part of a larger platform would provide expanded depth of services to their clients.”

Thomas Applegate, founding partner of CEA, says, “We are a very successful firm and combining with BDO will allow us to amplify what we’ve built. Our clients will have access to a wider array of services, extensive industry experience and the resources of BDO’s extensive global network.”

BDO will maintain both its existing San Diego office in La Jolla and the previous CEA office in Carlsbad. Lee Duran, assurance MP for BDO’s existing San Diego office, will maintain that role in the combined San Diego practice and Mark Stepka, a tax partner at CEA, will serve as the tax MP. Each of these professionals bring more than 30 years of experience to their expanded roles as managing partners for the combined Greater San Diego practice.