The Beginnings – Balestra, Harr & Scherer
In August 1994, Gary Scherer and Jeff Harr started a one office local CPA firm in Circleville, Ohio with a staff of eight, under the name of Harr & Scherer, CPAs. Prior to that, they began their professional careers at different times during the late 1970’s with a large international CPA firm, obtaining valuable experience and training in public accounting. They continued their careers in small, local CPA firms in the 1980’s before being reunited in a larger local firm where they worked together for nearly six years.
The new firm formed in 1994 was founded on basic, simple values that promoted valued client service and family-oriented work environment. Traditional CPA firm services were provided to businesses locally and throughout Ohio. Major industry niches included agriculture, nonprofit organizations, construction and small family-owned businesses. The firm grew modestly and steadily for several years, expanding into Michigan and Indiana. Nearly all growth was the result of referrals from existing clients and other CPA firms.
Over the years the Firm has merged with other CPAs in an effort to complement the practice and diversify into other industries and markets. In 2001, the Firm absorbed the practice of a sole proprietor that specialized in accounting and consulting for water and sewer districts, a quasi-governmental niche the Firm continues to serve. In 2003, a sole proprietor that specializes in governmental auditing and accounting merged into the Firm, adding another owner, Mike Balestra, and location, Piketon, Ohio. The name changed to Balestra, Harr & Scherer, CPAs. The two practices complemented each other geographically and professionally. In more recent years, the firm has merged in two sole proprietor tax practices, and in 2014, merged in the practice of Peck and Martin, CPAs, Inc., which significantly expanded their tax client base.
The Firm has grown extremely fast, and has continued to develop expertise in the niches it serves. In 2007, an office in Columbus, Ohio, was added. The Firm has experienced very little employee turnover and has maintained long-term relationships with their clients while using their strong reputation to fuel growth.
The Beginnings – Mayr & Associates
Doug Mayr also began his professional career with the same large international CPA firm, a few years after Jeff and Gary. After a successful career with the large firm, Doug moved into the regional CPA niche where he continued his public accounting career and ultimately advanced to a partnership role. In this role, Doug gained years of valuable experience providing an entire spectrum of tax and financial services to middle market businesses and their owners. Recognizing he had a true ability to provide much more than traditional accounting and tax services, Doug ventured off on his own to create “a different kind of CPA firm.”
In November of 2012, Mayr & Associates was established in Columbus, Ohio to assist middle-market, closely-held clients with tax, accounting and financial advisory services. One of the founding principles when forming Mayr & Associates was to provide clients with more than a financial statement or a tax return. The goal of Mayr & Associates is to be a trusted business advisor for clients, assisting them with all financial concerns of their organization. To help facilitate this, Mayr & Associates enters into fixed-price agreements where they set the engagement fee for the year, agree on payment terms, and then have the client come to them, without the concern of being billed every time they talk, meet, or even think about the client…which is often. Mayr & Associates established their firm with some very senior personnel. They wanted folks with a lot of experience working with their clients, which ensures their clients are dealing with seasoned professionals. Their clients represent a wide-range of industries, including but not limited to, Construction/Real Estate, Manufacturing/Distribution, Service, Auto Dealers, and Captive Insurance. Their clients range in size from start-ups to hundreds of millions in revenue. However, what they all have in common is being closely held. The professionals at Mayr understand the entrepreneur mentality and have established a firm to advise them.
The Merger – BHM CPA Group
Although Jeff and Doug worked for the same international firm, their careers covered different time spans. However, through networking and other relationships, Jeff and Doug met and became friends. Over the years, the idea of merging the two business began to take shape.
On January 1, 2015, Mayr & Associates, LLC and Balestra, Harr & Scherer, Inc. formally announced the merger of their Columbus area practices into BHM CPA Group, Inc. The firm aimed to expand its existing presence in the central Ohio market, while consolidating their separate Columbus offices into one, located at One East Campus View Boulevard, at the Crosswoods.
Jeff Harr, CPA, Managing Partner of Balestra, Harr & Scherer, Inc., and Doug Mayr, CPA, Managing Partner of Mayr & Associates, indicated that the merger made sense on many fronts, given the exceptional growth each firm has experienced over the past few years.
“Over time, Doug and I realized how alike our organizations truly were in terms of industry experience, our focus on present and future objectives, and especially culture,” said Harr. “To us, a merger was the next plausible step to grow our firms. Two is better than one, and then ultimately, three became even better.”
“There is a legacy and a synergy between Jeff and me,” said Mayr. “We both have a firm grip on, and appreciation of, the type of culture we have created, and will continue to create. While numbers are what we “do”, our legacy is our families, our kids and our friends. We instill in our staff that we have a strong commitment to serve our clients, yet we all respect each other’s personal time outside of the office.”
One of the founding principles of BHM CPA Group was to provide clients with more than just a financial statement or a tax return. “Our desire is to be their trusted business advisors – assisting them with all financial aspects of their businesses,” said Mayr. “Our approach is to be out of the office, where our clients are located, as often as possible. You don’t provide the best advice to your client by sitting behind your desk,” said Mayr. “We encourage our staff to be out with our clients, and our investment in technology allows that to happen. It also provides our staff flexibility with their schedules, and promotes a balance of life and work,” said Mayr.
“This is not your typical “number-crunching” firm. We like to believe we’re progressive, innovative, and more importantly – approachable. We feel this is what makes us different,” said Harr.
BHM CPA Group, Inc. is a CPA firm licensed in Ohio and surrounding states. They employ approximately 75 people of which 67 are professional staff, including approximately 26 CPAs. They also have Certified Fraud Examiners and Certified Information Systems Auditors on staff. The majority of the client base includes businesses in Ohio and the neighboring states. The clients are served by offices in Circleville, Columbus, and Piketon, Ohio.