Tornado influences decision to expand resources for Cookeville area clients
By Michelle Price UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – The effects of the March 3 tornado in Putnam County were far and wide, but who would have guessed it would influence a major merger transaction between accounting firms.
Effective July 16, Cookeville-based Duncan, Wheeler & Wilkerson (DWW) merged with Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC (CRI), a Top 25 nationally-ranked CPA and advisory firm based in Alabama.
“I decided that with the growth in Cookeville, it might be nice to have a larger partner just for certain (catastrophic) events,” explained Shane Wheeler, former DWW owner and current CRI Managing Partner. “One of the things that solidified that in my mind was the (March 3) tornado.”
Although the tornado stopped before reaching the downtown area of Cookeville, Wheeler saw the devastating impacts that could result from having most of the business resources concentrated in one area.
“Geographically, your clients are at risk if you’re in one small town and all of your people are here. That is how this (the merger) developed – so we could wrap ourselves into a larger organization, and my clients would be secured in case something happened,” he said.
The merger with CRI will greatly enlarge the footprint of the former company. Based in Enterprise, Ala., CRI has offices in more than 30 markets in 10 states across the Southeastern and Southwestern United States and delivers the collective expertise of 300+ partners and more than 1,900 professionals.
Customers should notice no changes in the Cookeville office, with the same staff, phone numbers, location, etc. The only noticeable change will be in the services provided to customers.
“We cover a lot of areas of general accounting and business consulting, but we are generalists, really, not specialists,” said Wheeler. “This will offer the availability to provide services that we did not in the past. Business evaluation services is one example. If you need someone to provide an estimate of a business’ value for sale or estate planning, they have that ability.”
The addition the larger, more diverse team will allow the Cookeville office to provide services for larger customers, such as hospitals and larger financial institutions.
“They have a large healthcare business,” said Wheeler. “We have the medical practices, but they have a large practice that is doctors, doctor’s offices and hospitals – they have a large practice in the hospital arena. We’ll just be able to offer more.
“We audit financial institutions, but we will be able to expand our financial institution auditing to bigger banks. We’ll have more resources, so we’ll be able to expand what we’re able to do in that arena.”
The Carthage office of Duncan, Wheeler & Wilkerson, P.C. was not part of the merger. Effective July 16, it became Larry Taylor, Wilkerson & Associates, PLLC.
About CRI: CRI is a CPA and advisory firm specializing in traditional and specialized services, including audit and assurance, business consulting and support, forensic accounting, IT auditing, retirement plan auditing, SEC compliance, business valuation, tax planning, and trusts and estate work.