SS&G completed a merger Wednesday with Ahlbeck & Co., expanding the Cleveland-based accounting and consulting firm’s presence to Chicago.

SS&G will add 22 staff members by merging in Ahlbeck, growing the firm’s roster to 425 staffers. By extending its footprint to the Chicago market, the firm hopes to add to an already large base of Illinois clients.

“This merger is important to our strategic plan,” said SS&G managing director Gary Shamis in a statement. “We see potential for future growth in many of our areas of specialization, including restaurants, health care, contractors, manufacturers, and nonprofit organizations.”

SS&G is currently the 46th largest CPA firm in the U.S., according to Accounting Today’s list of the Top 100 Firms, with $59.4 million in revenue in 2009. Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed.

“That was part of our strategic plan to expand to the Chicago marketplace,” said SS&G marketing director Ilana Isakov Katz. “We’ve been looking pretty aggressively in the Chicago market for about two years now.” The firm also operates office locations in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, and Erlanger, Ky.

Shamis will continue in his current role as managing director of SS&G. Ahlbeck principals Thomas Ahlbeck and Dirk Ahlbeck will assume the roles of co-managing directors of SS&G Chicago.

“The decision to merge with SS&G was based largely on our commitment to our clients’ needs,” said Tom Ahlbeck. “We are thrilled to be joining forces with this well-respected firm. The relationship provides us the opportunity to offer clients more value in the way of additional services and extended resources.”

“This is a merger of equals — great people, great clients, great service, and now, another great location,” added Shamis.

SS&G is a founding member of the Leading Edge Alliance, an international professional association of independently owned accounting and consulting firms. “That was one of the things that was most appealing to them was being part of the Leading Edge Alliance,” said Katz. “It’s a great synergy of two very like firms. They really have a depth of resources that they didn’t have before. They brought their own technical expertise, but they have 400 other colleagues that they can now call upon.”

Katz said that SS&G is not ruling out further mergers, but the goal for now is to make the Ahlbeck merger and Chicago expansion as seamless as possible.

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