Peoria, Ill. (June 5, 2003) -- Further cementing its strategy to dominate the Southwest, Clifton Gunderson announced Wednesday that it has acquired a 45-person accounting firm in Arizona -- its fourth merger in the Grand Canyon State over the past three years.

The latest merger brings accounting firm Zolondek, Strassels, Greene & Freed into the fold, effective June 1. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The addition brings Clifton Gunderson's Arizona presence to 135 total personnel.

"Our strategy is to be a dominant firm in the Southwest -- frankly to be the dominant firm, except for the Big Four," said Clifton Gunderson chief executive Carl George. "Phoenix is a key market in that strategy."

George said the spate of acquisitions has given the firm a rich variety of expertise in different niches, including credit unions, manufacturing, and consulting for charter schools.

The firm has had an Arizona presence since it opened an office in Tucson over 20 years ago, and doesn't plan to stop now. "There are other firms on our wish list," George said. "We believe the Southwest is better served by the larger regional firms than the Big Four," he added, "and in many cases the markets aren't large enough for them. But [they're] an exact fit for our vision."

-- Tracey Miller-Segarra

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