Two Connecticut Firms Merge

Effective Jan. 1, 2018, Shein Cohen Palmer & Company and Howard L. Page & Company, both of Avon, Conn., will merge under the new name Palmer Latko Ledas Page, according to a local Avon news site.

“The merger decision was easy,” says Gary Palmer principal. “Both firms realized how similar we were in so many ways—business philosophy, client relationships, policies and procedures, and more. We fit well together.”

Howard L. Page has provided accounting and tax preparation services for individuals and businesses since 1941. Shein Cohen Palmer established a similar practice in 1978. Together the firms anticipate expanding services for existing clients and offering a cost-effective alternative for small businesses and individuals. Palmer Latko Ledas Page will serve more than 2,000 clients in Connecticut and across the country.

“A major goal is to make sure our clients experience little or no change during and after the merger,” says Margaret Mayer, principal. “Every client will still have the same professionals working with them. Policies, practices, and procedures will also remain the same.”

Two Louisville Firms Merge

Louisville, Ky.-based Strothman and Co. has acquired Ecken & Smith, also of Louisville.

Founders of Ecken & Smith, Ron Ecken and Joyce Smith, will join Strothman but continue to work out of their office. The combined company will have 70 employees across their three offices.

“We share a similar desire to serve all of our clients with many years of combined experience in a caring, hands-on manner,” says Smith.

Strothman and Co., founded nearly 35 years ago, focuses on serving entrepreneurs. Ecken & Smith has experience in tax preparation and planning, audits, business valuations, personal financial planning, litigation support and accounting services.

Apex CPAs & Consultants Admits First Partner, VanDeWoestyne

Apex CPAs & Consultants of St. Charles, Ill., has admitted Lucas VanDeWoestyne, director and COO, as a partner in the firm.

“This is the first time in our 20-year history that we’ve brought in a partner. Lucas has exemplified the leadership skills and business acumen required to serve our clients, grow our culture, and be an owner in the company,” says James Chakires, president and CEO.

VanDeWoestyne attributes his work as director and COO as keys to taking on added responsibility. “Those roles made me more confident about my decision-making and were stepping stones to becoming a partner,” he says. “A couple of years ago, Jim said, ‘Think and act like you are a partner,’ and I’ve challenged myself to do that. I look forward to the full experience of being a business owner.”

VanDeWoestyne specializes in audits, reviews and compilations, as well as a multitude of other services including monthly and quarterly accounting, budgeting and forecasting.

North Dakota Firms Merge

Fargo, N.D.-based Haga Kommer has acquired Anderson & Fercho, also of Fargo.

Anderson & Fercho will move its operations and employees to Haga Kommer’s office.

“Both firms share a set of common values centered around a focus on the clients and employees,” says Toby Kommer, owner of Haga Kommer. “That commonality is what makes us very excited about this transition for all of our clients and our employees.

INSIDE Public Accounting Unveils The 2017 Pyramid Awards

INSIDE Public Accounting (IPA) announced that three 2017 Best of the Best Accounting Firms were recognized with Pyramid Awards this year at the seventh annual PRIME Symposium, Nov. 7-9, in Indianapolis.

The award recipients this year were: Moore Colson of Atlanta, Pasadena, Calif.-based KROST CPAs and Consultants and San Ramon, Calif.-based Armanino LLP.

Moore Colson was the recipient of IPA’s “Pyramid of Excellence” award. This high-performing firm ranked No. 1 among the elite 50 Best of the Best Firms selected by IPA. The rankings are based on data from the 27th annual IPA Survey and Analysis of Firms, which covers finances and operations in dozens of areas. This $21.7 million firm, with 16 partners and 83 staff, has been named a Best of the Best firm nine times, the last five consecutively. Moore Colson was one of the Fastest-Growing Best of the Best firms this year.

KROST CPAs and Consultants, once again, received the IPA Best of the Best “Fastest-Growing Pyramid Award.” With a 25.0% growth rate, this firm has demonstrated impressive results with no mergers to enhance that number. This is KROST’s second consecutive year as an IPA Best of the Best firm and Fastest-Growing firm, as the firm posted an extraordinary 66.3% organic growth rate in 2016. The $25.6 million firm ranked No. 137 on the IPA 200 list.

Armanino LLP received the IPA Best of the Best “Pyramid Award.” The $195 million firm, ranked No. 24 on the IPA 100 list, first appeared as a Best of the Best firm in 2001. Since then, IPA has named Armanino a Best of the Best firm 16 times, seven consecutively. Armanino sustains financial and operational excellence year after year.

View a complete listing of the 2017 IPA Best of the Best.

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Order the 2017 Benchmarking Report.

Catanese Group Announces New Audit and Tax Partner

Johnstown, Pa.-based Catanese Group admitted two new partners, Jessica Dunlap and Sean Wonderling.

Dunlap joined the firm in 2013 and was admitted to audit partner. After working in industries such as retail, manufacturing and professional services during her career, she brings experience to clients of all sizes and types. She oversees audit, business management and accounting engagements.

Wonderling was admitted to tax partner after being a member of the firm for 14 years. He began his career as an intern in 2003, and became a tax supervisor and tax manager before becoming partner. He works on tax and business consulting engagements for both businesses and individuals, completing complex tax returns and projections, helping clients with tax and financial planning, and helping clients make better management decisions.

Dermody Burke & Brown Launch New Agribusiness Services Group

Syracuse, N.Y.-based Dermody Burke & Brown launched an agribusiness service group. Though they have serviced clients in the industry for a number of years, this officially marks the beginning of a formalized group.

The firm serves dairy farms, feed mills, swine and hog farms, beef farms, apple orchards, distilleries, wineries, vineyards and breweries. Dermody Burke & Brown currently provides a wide range of business accounting, auditing and taxation services to 50 to 100 clients in the agribusiness industry. Principal David Corey, Jr. leads the agribusiness service group and is supported by a department of experienced staff.

Nathan Wechsler & Company Celebrates 60 Years

Concord, N.H.-based Nathan Wechsler & Company, founded in 1957, announced the celebration of 60 years of service to the New Hampshire community.

“Sixty years is a remarkable accomplishment for our firm,” says Oreste “Rusty” Mosca, managing director. “Our long-term success is a direct result of the value we place on client relationships, as well as our dedicated staff, who strive to provide the highest quality service each and every day.”

“At Nathan Wechsler & Company, we recognize that without our clients’ support, we would not have cause to celebrate our many years of service,” says Mosca. “With this in mind, we would like to extend our most sincere gratitude to our clients for their confidence in our firm over the last 60 years.”

Nathan Wechsler & Company has more than 40 professionals offering a broad range of services. In addition to traditional tax and accounting engagements, the firm serves clients with business valuation services, management consulting and employee benefit plan audits. The firm works with construction and real-estate companies, non-profit entities including independent schools, and manufacturers, and wholesale and distribution firms.

2017 IPA Best of the Best Firm Profile: Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt

Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt (HCVT) has been named an IPA Best of the Best firm for 13 years in a row. It also jumped five spots up the IPA 100 list this year, with 15% growth, and is now ranked the 31st largest accounting firm in the nation. INSIDE Public Accounting asked MP Phil Holthouse to offer his insights into his firm’s success, growth goals, top clients and predictions on how the accounting profession may change over the next 10 years. Congratulations to the entire HCVT team.


To what do you attribute 13 consecutive years on IPA’s Best of the Best list?

We are committed to providing our clients with technical excellence and a client first attitude. When Jim Carlin, John Van Trigt and I came together 26 years ago, we wanted to create a firm that was different for our clients and employees – a firm based on technical excellence, and a business model built on partner access and accountability, where the focus is on needs of the client. I think we have achieved that goal, among many others, but we always remain a work in process.

Tell us about the types of services you provide to your top three clients.

We provide comprehensive tax services to our top three clients that are complex global organizations with sophisticated structuring, planning and reporting needs.

What are your growth goals for the next five years? 

We expect that our organic growth will continue and we will continue to pursue opportunistic lateral hires. Growth for HCVT is all about adding the right clients with needs that are aligned with our services and areas of specialization.

Holthouse Carlin & Van Trigt LLP

What type of client is an ideal fit for your firm?

Ideal clients are businesses and high-net-worth individuals with complex issues that will benefit from the depth of our services, private businesses that require assurance services in specific industries and practice specialization, and individuals and organizations that are not looking for a low-cost provider. Tax services represent our largest service line. HCVT’s tax professionals assist our clients to navigate the challenges and risks associated with the complex and often overwhelming tax environment by providing innovative and fact-based solutions customized to their specific needs. Whether the need is a federal, state and local, international or estate and trust tax issues, our team has the experience and technical skills to help provide the right answers and strategies.

Can you predict how accounting firm services will change over the next 10 years?

Data analytics, automation and the leveraging of technology will change how we deliver our services. Odds are that government taxes and regulations will not ease, will remain messy and will not simplify our lives. Pricing pressure for tax compliance and audit services will not lessen. Societal and generational forces will prompt (or accelerate) changes in how we communicate, where we work and how we work, e.g., AI, blockchain.

McGuire Sponsel Acquires Export Assist

Indianapolis-based McGuire Sponsel, a national tax and consulting firm has acquired Export Assist, a leader in providing tax benefit programs to U.S. exporters.

Export Assist will continue to operate under its current name. Mark O’Dell and Tedder Schwarz, senior consultants at McGuire Sponsel, will lead Export Assist as principals.

Export Assist will continue its primary focus on interest charge domestic international sales corporation (IC-DISC). IC-DISCs provide a permanent tax savings opportunity for qualifying U.S. exporters to increase their ability to compete globally by reducing U.S. tax liabilities. Beyond tax reduction, an IC-DISC can be used to increase liquidity, supply ongoing financing, create management and employee incentives and eliminate double taxation.

“Export Assist enjoys a tremendous reputation, built by industry pioneer Joe Englert,” says T.J. Sponsel, McGuire Sponsel’s managing director. “Our acquisition seeks to build on his legacy and drive company growth utilizing McGuire Sponsel’s significant IC-DISC experience and national specialty tax expertise.”

“Export Assist clients understand the many benefits of IC-DISCs for their export operations,” says Sponsel. “We’re going to take those benefits to the next level, combining innovative strategies with a national support team of seasoned experts.”