Louisiana CPA firm Postlethwaite & Netterville has been growing - especially in the past year-and-a-half, as the Baton Rouge-based firm expanded its operations, acquiring Lafayette-based Veazey & Co. in January 2009, and the audit and tax practices of New Orleans-based Legier & Materne in December 2008.

"We had a couple mergers with practices that were in the million to a million-and-a-half range," said chief executive and managing director Bill Balhoff. "There was some growth not only from the acquisitions, but also within each of our practice areas, primarily in consulting services."

The firm experienced revenue growth in litigation support, technology and internal audit, among other areas, and Balhoff expects continued growth in the consulting area. "We have a great deal of talent that we've been able to recruit in consulting, so we expect a lot of growth in technology, fraud and lit support, and actually in health care, with all the recent developments in that area," he said.

Over the years, the firm has weathered the upturns and downturns in the economy, as have its clients. However, Balhoff said the firm has not been sharply hit by the recession. "I wouldn't say we were not affected at all, but Louisiana is a good market to practice in," he said. "Still, most are concerned about the economy, so if it affects our clients, then it certainly affects us also. And state revenues have been impacted, and we do some work for the state."

The firm grew its revenues last year to $35.3 million from $32.3 million in 2008, and earned a No. 85 ranking on Accounting Today's 2010 Top 100 Firms roster. The firm now has 27 partners, and over 300 total employees.

ATTRACTION AND RETENTION

To attract new staff, the firm often recruits from local colleges and universities.

"We are able to get staff from an outstanding pool of graduates," said Balhoff. "Since we try to be on the cutting edge of technology, we think that is something the staff has benefited from. They are certainly interested in working for a firm that embraces the latest technology."

To retain staff, the firm believes in developing and supporting employees. "We try to have a culture that treats them with proper respect, and we also try to communicate as frequently as possible to let them understand how much they are appreciated and are a part of the success of the firm," said Balhoff.

To retain clients, directors and staff focus on delivering services that address the issues that clients are dealing with, especially in relation to the current economy and the impact on their respective industries.

Balhoff is a past chairman of the AICPA's Private Companies Practice Section Executive Committee and a past member of the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council. He believes that the firm has made its mark by giving back to both the profession and the community. The firm was named last year as one of the Best Places to Work in New Orleans by New Orleans CityBusiness. Last year, the firm helped sponsor many community and civic events, such as the Storybook Ball, a fundraising benefit for a local family services nonprofit group, Family Road, that featured interactive 3D storybooks inspired by popular children's stories.

"The thing that I think makes us unique is the amount that we give back to the profession and our local communities," he said. "We've found that the more you give, the more you receive. It gives us an opportunity to interact with leaders outside our own walls and our own practice, learn from them, and come up with new ideas. It's helped us grow and be innovative. Not that size necessarily makes you better, but it does give us the ability to have the resources to do some things that are innovative and progressive."

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