Regional accounting firm Rea & Associates has broadened its services with the acquisition of Columbus-based forensic accounting firm Ickert & Co.

The deal, effective Nov. 1, expands the services of Rea's strategic solutions practice, which specialized in business valuations and mergers and acquisitions services, to include services such as fraud investigation, litigation support, expert testimony, bankruptcy and reorganization, and business and personal damages.

"This fit nicely with our other services. We were doing some of this work, but we felt like we needed an individual who can devote 100 percent of their time to building this area," said Rea president Timothy Michel. "We have a couple of Certified Fraud Examiners on staff who were spending most of their time on other areas and we wanted to develop this specialty."

Ickert & Co. owner Heinz Ickert joins Rea Strategic Solutions as a shareholder; employees Chrissie Powers and Bonnie Wellman join as manager and office administrator, respectively. Rea Strategic Solutions will move its offices to Ickert's existing location in Columbus.

The acquisition adds one office and about $600,000 in revenue to Rea & Associates, giving the combined firm a total of 10 offices and 173 employees, including 28 partners. Michel expects revenue this year to be just shy of $20 million.

The move continues Rea's strategy of steadily expanding its services. During the last six years, Michel said, the firm has added business valuation, M&A, pension administration, human resources services and investment advisory services to its offerings. The firm, which caters to closely held businesses, has niches in construction, government services, manufacturing, wholesale and distribution.

"We're always looking for other niches, whether they're service-oriented or industry-oriented," said Michel.

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