Clifton Gunderson adds Illinois firm with eye on more acquisitions

Milwaukee-based Clifton Gunderson, one of the nation’s largest certified public accounting and consulting firms, has acquired Farrell & Associates, a Rockford, Ill.-based CPA firm.

The Rockford location joins Clifton Gunderson’s Illinois practice with nine offices in Champaign, Danville, Dixon, Evanston, Joliet, Oak Brook, Peoria, Princeton and Sterling. Managing partner Steve DeBruyn and partner-in-charge Todd Etheridge will lead the new Rockford office.

“Securing a presence within the Rockford market allows us to enter a new market in northern Illinois, which is closely located to our Dixon, Princeton and Sterling offices as well as the greater Chicagoland area,” said Clifton Gunderson CEO Kris McMasters. “Since 1960, we’ve had a strong presence and leadership throughout each of our Illinois offices.

“Their culture and the values of the firm, the nature of their services and clients fits nicely within our structure,” McMasters said. “We see a lot of synergy.”

Farrell & Associates’ partners Robert Farrell, Michael Abrahams and Michele Reagan will join Clifton Gunderson as partners. In addition, 15 Farrell & Associates staffers also will join the firm.

This is the fifth merger and acquisition announcement for Clifton Gunderson since May 2010. Earlier this year, the firm acquired St. Louis, Mo.-based Humes & Barrington, Philadelphia, Pa.-based Stockton Bates, Evanston, Ill.-based U.S. Tax Advantage; and the former BKD office in Merrillville, Ind.

The company continues to seek growth opportunities through acquisitions, McMasters said. One of the firm’s partners now works full time at finding and negotiating acquisitions for Clifton Gunderson.

The firm wants to increase its geographic footprint throughout the country and expand its offerings to clients, McMasters said.

“We’ve always looked at opportunities that are close to where we are first because those are easiest to integrate,” she said. “But we’re (also) looking at other opportunities where we think there could be a lot of opportunities within the types of services we have and clients we serve.”


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