St. Pete-based Spoor Bunch Franz, one of the Tampa Bay area’s largest accounting firms, announced on Thursday that it plans to merge with Dwight Darby and Company.
Dwight Darby and Company is an accounting firm that has served the Tampa Bay area for more than 70 years and SBF, and has been growing steadily, achieving multiple mergers over the past few years.
The new merger, which will take effect on Jan. 1, comes at a time when both firms are growing and see an opportunity to combine forces to meet the demands.
“We’ve known of Dwight Darby for a very long time and it’s a reputable firm. We’ve met with Dawn [Lopez, a partner at Dwight Darby] and got to know her better. We had meetings and calls and saw this as a natural fit. The process happened very quickly over the past three months, which is much quicker than others that take years to complete,” Rich Franz, SBF’s managing partner, told the St. Pete Catalyst.
The initial conversation ignited when an attorney with Dwight Darby reached out to SBF about the potential merger.
“The genesis of it was that we were not actively seeking out firms to merge with, but this was a perfect fit that fell in our laps a little bit,” Franz said.
He also explained how several key partners at Dwight Darby have passed away in recent years. Others in the firm then had to absorb the additional workloads while processing the grief of losing the partners.
Through the merger, SBF will continue to operate its headquarters at the Baypoint Commerce Center in North St. Pete while Dwight Darby’s office in the Hyde Park area of South Tampa will continue to be open.
“We want to keep both offices. Many of Dwight’s employees live in Tampa and we wouldn’t want their employees to have to cross over the bridge every day, including their clients,” Franz said, explaining it’s well worth having two brick-and-mortar locations.
The combined firm will have 77 employees, as all 12 Dwight Darby employees will retain their roles. This includes Lopez, who has been with the firm for over 28 years, and will become a principal at SBF.
Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed; however, Franz said the firm exceeded $9 million in revenue this year – and with the new merger, the firm expects to reach $12 million in revenue by 2022.
Dwight Darby, founded in Tampa in 1950, helps clients in a wide variety of industries, such as condo/homeowners’ associations, employee benefit plans, not-for-profit, real estate developments, restaurants and others – all niches that complement the industries served by SBF.
Franz said that clients will not be immensely affected by the merge. The merge allows SBF to better serve Tampa clientele as clients will have the option of commuting to the Tampa office and can drop off any documents or materials there.
Clients are being notified about the change.
After this busy tax season, Franz said SBF will start sending more people from its St. Pete office to the Tampa firm to get to know them better, and will start to merge processes together and utilize the same software.
SBF’s last merger occurred in 2018 with accounting firm Strawn, Marshall, Cunningham, Condon & Sweat.