BDO footprint grows in Pittsburgh

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After more than 50 years, the Alpern Rosenthal name is disappearing from Pittsburgh on Monday, as the accounting firm's acquisition by Chicago-based BDO USA takes effect.

A professional services firm with offices in 52 cities, now including Pittsburgh, BDO made the announcement Thursday that it was acquiring Alpern Rosenthal, which was founded in 1961. The deal adds to BDO's presence in Pennsylvania, said CEO Wayne Berson, as the firm already has offices in Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

"I believe we found a well-respected firm [in Alpern Rosenthal] that addresses our priority of expanding into new strategic markets," Mr. Berson said Friday. "It's adding to our critical mass in Pennsylvania. For us it seems like an opportunity where one plus one equals three."

Mr. Berson and Alpern Rosenthal president Alex Paul have known each other professionally for years, but had fallen out of touch until January, when they ran into each other at a conference. They started discussing the possibilities.

"We liked that BDO has an entrepreneurial attitude, like we do," Mr. Paul said. "They have a great culture, and this is a great opportunity for our clients and our staff."

Mr. Berson, who joined BDO when the company acquired his firm in 2001, is now its CEO, which he said is indicative of the firm's culture. "We are very focused on family and on diversity," Mr. Berson said. "It is a very important part of who we are."

And, he said, over the past 13 months, BDO has pursued "aggressive expansion," adding seven firms and about 800 to 900 staff.

"Our goal is to come in and expand, and with a successful firm like Alpern Rosenthal, we see no reason to change the operating model," Mr. Berson said. "They've been very successful in Pittsburgh."

Alpern Rosenthal has 250 partners and staff in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and south Florida. All 250 employees will be retained as part of the BDO acquisition.

Mr. Paul will now serve as managing partner of BDO's Pittsburgh office. He has been with Alpern Rosenthal since 1983, and has been its president since 1998. He said before the deal was finalized, the two companies worked together to decide how to successfully integrate.

Mr. Paul said he would be sad to see the Alpern Rosenthal name go, but looks forward to the new opportunities available to Alpern clients as it is absorbed into BDO, particularly with its global reach.

"We know Pittsburgh, and now we have resources we did not have before," he said. "We're happy to be part of a strong, national brand."

Kim Lyons: or 412-263-1241.

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