Union of Pa.-based Top 100 Firms will create a Northeast mega-firm

Regional firms Parente Randolph and Beard Miller Co. plan to merge later this year to create one of the largest firms in the Northeast, with a total $175 million in revenue.

The combined firms - each of which are long-time members of Accounting Today's Top 100 Firms list - will include 172 partners and over 1,200 staff in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Texas.

The firms said that they plan to announce their new name and logo when the merger closes in the fourth quarter, after getting advice from a brand consultant.

Beard Miller chairman and chief executive Lamar Stoltzfus will serve as chairman of the new firm, while Bob Ciaruffoli, chairman and CEO of Parente Randolph, will serve as CEO.

The firms began talking about doing a merger last December, but already had a history of sometimes sharing work with one another while competing.

"Our respective strategic plans drove us to have the conversation with each other regarding the merger," Ciaruffoli told Accounting Today. "We have a lot of core practices that are complementary to each other."

He noted that the two firms have geographies, industries and services that they each wanted to expand in where the other already had a foothold.

"Our new firm will have even deeper resources and broader areas of expertise to serve our clients, including more industry-specific expertise, specialized tax consulting and other business advisory resources," said Stoltzfus.

Ciaruffoli said that he expected to consolidate some of the two firms' offices, such as those in Pittsburgh, which are within walking distance of each other, and two offices in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. However, he does not anticipate staff cuts. "There's no reason to cut staff or partners," he said. "If people are performing and doing what they are supposed to be doing, there is clearly room for them in this organization, and we expect to grow the organization."

For now, Parente has no other mergers on the table, but Ciaruffoli said that he is open to looking at other opportunities.

Parente has 14 offices in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Texas, while Beard Miller has 13 in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. Together, the firms have 120 SEC clients.

BMC ranked 35th on Accounting Today's 2009 list of the Top 100 Firms with revenues of $75.2 million, while Parente ranked 36th, with $74.3 million.

"The merger gives incredible positioning to both firms, in that it gives them a much more significant stake in Pennsylvania, but it also allows them to jointly grow together in both New York and New Jersey," said Allan Koltin, CEO of Chicago consultancy PDI Global. "Parente recently acquired a firm in New York, Lazar Levine & Felix, and a while later, Beard Miller opened up in New Jersey. Together they will be able to achieve their common growth strategy a lot quicker."

One big challenge for the combined firm will be sorting out which offices to keep and which to close or combine in markets where they already both operate. In addition, the firms are part of different networks, with Parente Randolph in Baker Tilly International and Beard Miller in the BDO Seidman Alliance.

(c) 2009 Accounting Today and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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