Indianapolis (July 29, 2003) -- Crowe Chizek expanded further into the Tennessee market Monday with the merger of 100-person Kruse & Associates into the fold.

Crowe Chizek made its first foray into Tennessee in early 2002, with the addition of 23-person firm Heathcott & Mullaly.

"This merger was more based on the strategic fit of Kruse & Associates with Crowe Chizek (than location)," said Crowe Chizek chief executive Mark Hildebrand. "They had an outstanding specialization in construction and that's an area where we'd like to build a national reputation." He added, however, that Crowe Chizek excels in serving middle market manufacturing, which is a growing business in the state. "With the combination of our talents and theirs, we can be a unique alternative to the Big Four in that market," he added.

"Our two firms share a culture dedicated to client service," said Mike Kruse, CEO of Kruse & Associates. "We are excited about joining a highly respected firm like Crowe Chizek and look forward to the significant growth prospects that exist for our clients and our people."

Kruse & Associates employs 100 people in offices in Nashville and Knoxville. Kruse personnel will continue to serve existing clients and will operate under the Crowe Chizek name.

Crowe Chizek ranked No. 13 on Accounting Today's 2003 Top 100 firms list with $204 million in annual revenue.

-- Tracey Miller-Segarra

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