"CCR WAS of equal size in New England to Grant Thornton so we automatically doubled our capacity and bench strength," said David Platt, assistant managing partner of Grant Thornton’s New England cluster.
On Dec. 1, 2011, Grant Thornton LLP acquired CCR LLP, effectively expanding their presence throughout New England and specifically in the Providence market. We asked David Platt, assistant managing partner of Grant Thornton’s New England cluster and Rhode Island native, about the acquisition and its impact.
PBN: What is the relationship between Grant Thornton and CCR?
PLATT: Both firms in this market were a natural fit since we share likeminded ideology and strategy. At the time of the acquisition, CCR was of equal size in New England to Grant Thornton so we automatically doubled our capacity and bench strength. CCR leveraged the Grant Thornton brand and [we] leveraged our extensive New England footprint.
GT and CCR were both regional firms in the market place; we now have national resources to add to our service model for the legacy CCR middle market clients. Operationally, we used to compete for similar middle market business and human capital. Now we are able to go to market together, and get the best human talent together. With respect to our current size and depth of services, we are the clear alternative to the “Big Four” for middle market business. The acquisition has definitely been a win-win.
PBN: Grant Thornton recently acquired CCR's offices in Providence, Westborough, Mass., and Glastonbury, Conn. Tell us about the transition.
PLATT: We did, as well as CCR's downtown Boston location. The transition is going extremely well for clients and employees alike. It has not been a difficult transition operationally, since both CCR and Grant Thornton had very similar operational structures. Grant Thornton has enhanced all that we do as a combined CPA firm. Legacy CCR clients now benefit from additional resources at the same continued CCR fee structure.
With respect to our employees, the legacy CCR staff is positively embracing the change and has been motivated by Grant Thornton culture, including wellness programs, Grant Thornton’s women’s initiative, and personal-enrichment program offerings.
PBN: Your company uses flexible schedules for its employees. Would you say the system works well?
PLATT: We embrace the progressive firm ideology with flex time and flex schedules. In today’s professional service environment, many folks take advantage of flex schedules to better bridge their work-life balance. There are also business reasons for flex schedules; it helps with morale and fosters employee loyalty while also helping recruitment needs from the seasonal aspects of our business. Technology also helps to fit within the framework of an employee’s personal and professional life when the staff can work remotely. We are all professionals, so we know client service comes first and we adhere to client wishes at all times.
PBN: According to a national survey conducted last summer by Grant Thornton and Bank Director magazine, New England bank executives believed their local economies will either remain the same or improve in the next six months. Have you seen evidence of this – has it gotten worse?
PLATT: Economists continue to tell us that we are still in a recession, but we are seeing improvement in corporate earnings within our client base throughout New England. We are also seeing our clients have easier access to credit/capital where the banks and financial institutions were understandably skeptical just one year earlier. Companies are still hoarding liquid assets and being very deliberate in their investment decisions, but we are seeing our clients ramp up research and development and consulting working, which had been stalled given the uneasiness of the recession. In my opinion, the local economy has improved slightly; we are hoping for continues growth in corporate earnings, payroll and reinvestment.
PBN: What is your opinion of the Providence market over the next year?
PLATT: Providence is a “diamond in the rough” whereby it has all the attributes of being a business-friendly city, particularly given the presence of exceptional universities that can serve as an incubator for great ideas and great talent. However, Providence falls victim to the woes of many places that rely on the government to foster business-friendly approaches to attract and maintain businesses. Legislators realize that Providence has the potential to be a hub for corporate growth, and the importance of small business to the city’s economy. This growth would naturally cascade to investment in employee hiring and investment in the city community. However, for businesses to grow, legislators must act with a sense of urgency that matches our neighbors in the surrounding states. I am hopeful within the next year the state and city leadership will agree on what needs to be done to promote new business and retain existing businesses. Until the state and city make a commitment to Providence businesses, local leaders will continue running their businesses in the most economical and efficient manner, yielding the best returns for their stakeholders. This may mean doing business in another state that has a less cumbersome bureaucratic processes and tax structure.