Barfield, Murphy, Shank & Smith plans to expand its footprint in Alabama by combining with Himmelwright, Huguley & Boles, a CPA firm in the Auburn-Opelika area, on January 1 next year. 

The combined firm will include 140 employees and will consolidate under Barfield’s name.

BMSS ranked 13th on Accounting Today’s 2016 Regional Leaders list for the Top Firm in the Gulf Coast region, with $16.8 million in annual revenue. It has also been named a Best Place to Work by several publications, including The Wall Street Journal and Accounting Today.

Himmelwright, Huguley and Boles has offered a variety of accounting, tax, and advisory services since 1998 to both businesses and individuals, including several that will broaden BMSS’s services, including an outsourced bookkeeping service. HHB also specializes in furnishing accounting and auditing services to several industries such as medical practices, farming, timber and governmental entities.

“We firmly believe that BMSS supports our mission in each area of how our firm operates as well as the culture that we have created for our employees,” said HHB founding shareholder, Jim Himmelwright. “We know that by joining our two firms, we will be stronger together.”

Birmingham-based BMSS’s expansion into the Auburn-Opelika area fits in with the firm’s strategic growth plan. It’s familiar territory for founding member and managing partner, Don Murphy, who graduated from Auburn University in 1986 with a degree in accounting. 

“This merger is significant for all of us,” said Murphy. “We are excited to expand our reach into other parts of Alabama with the help of a new partner that shares our values and passion for making the client experience an exceptional one. I look forward to welcoming HHB’s shareholders, employees and clients to the BMSS family.”

Murphy founded the firm with Keith Barfield and John Shank in 1991 with the goal of providing a local alternative to national accounting firms, offering work/life balance to employees without compromising high-quality, client experience.

“Barfield Murphy Shank & Smith is a great success story in the accounting industry and the story is about to get better,” said Allan D. Koltin, CEO of Koltin Consulting Group, who advised both firms on the merger. “They are already a Top 200 CPA firm nationally and this merger is the start of their geographic expansion throughout the state of Alabama. It will also make them a Top 10 CPA firm (amongst non-nationals) in the entire Gulf Coast region. They are all about being a ‘best place to work’ firm and providing outstanding client service and now will be expanding their reach throughout the state.”

The firm has done little M&A activity over the years. With the exception of a recent merger with a sole proprietor in 2014, the firm’s growth over the past quarter of a century has been organic. The firm focuses on servicing closely held businesses in various industries, including construction, manufacturing, credit unions, not-for-profit and technology. BMSS provides traditional accounting, auditing, and tax services as well as value-added services including payroll administration, wealth management and IT support. 

Koltin noted that Himmelwright, Huguley & Boles was carefully selected after BMSS reviewed the Auburn-Opelika market. “They had a similar culture, wonderful talent and leadership, and a great reputation of delivering awesome service to their clients,” he said. “We all met in Chicago this past May as part of BMSS's Annual Leadership Retreat and you could see the like-minded thinking, synergies, and chemistry right from the get go. There was a shared excitement and entrepreneurialism in the air and the only question that remained was, "When could we get married?’”

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