Independent and proud

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the partners of Bruner-Cox have no intention of being swallowed up by an industry consolidator.

In fact, the independent firm, with offices in Canton and Akron, is on a mission to greatly expand its offerings, better equip itself to serve its clients and protect itself from the competition.

“At this time, it’s important to us to stay independent, because we feel that gives us leverage in the local marketplace. It gives us the ability to make decisions locally,” says partner Ronald Manse.

The firm added its first affiliate company in 1996 in response to a growing demand for temporary accounting and financial personnel. That year, it created CFS Financial Services of Northeastern Ohio, which specializes in providing CPAs to companies on a temporary or temp-to-hire basis.

In 1998, the firm founded three more affiliate companies: BC Basics, which offers basic accounting services to smaller businesses; HR Consulting, which specializes in employee recruiting and retention issues; and BC Technology Solutions, which provides clients with IT consultants.

In addition, Bruner-Cox is part of a network of independent accounting firms (The McGladrey Network), which helps its staff access resources on an international level.

According to Manse, part of the reason for the recent mergers and consolidations in the accounting industry is the declining number of accounting professionals.

“The numbers that are coming out of the colleges and universities are dwindling in the accounting profession,” Manse says. “The mergers are because of the need for quality people. We can’t get them directly out of schools anymore.”

Still, even with an industrywide demand for employees, Bruner-Cox has grown 20 percent in the last five years, and now employs 90. In addition, the firm received the Greater Canton Chamber of Commerce SCOPE award this year for its growth and contributions to its community in 1999.

Connie Swenson