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Wade McKnight

Leading one of the largest accounting firms in the country

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New York City-based CohnReznick LLP had its first post-merger partners meeting in Washington, D.C., in December 2012. Wade McKnight, as office managing partner for CohnReznick’s San Diego office, was there. What struck him about the meeting was the lack of any division between those who were previously with J.H. Cohn LLP, and those who were previously with Reznick Group P.C.

“When you look out across the room, they all look alike,” he said.

In the spirit of cohesiveness, it helps that before the October merger, just one market -- the Los Angeles area -- had both firms. The newly combined CohnReznick is benefiting from greater geographical reach, more offices, and more partners with more business relationships, according to McKnight.

“What we’ve seen are some increased opportunities,” said McKnight, who previously led the San Diego J.H. Cohn office. “We have more partners in the firm who are connected to other people. A partner just surfaced an opportunity that we wouldn’t necessarily have found without him.”

Both J.H. Cohn LLP and Reznick Group P.C. were among the top 20 accounting and consulting firms in the nation before the merger. Today, CohnReznick LLP is ranked as the nation’s 11th largest accounting and consulting firm, with some 25 offices, 2,000 employees and combined revenues exceeding $450 million.

The San Diego arm of CohnReznick has a little more than 30 employees, 17 of whom are certified public accountants, McKnight said. The firm’s local clients include the San Diego Zoo, the YMCA of Greater San Diego, Goodwill Industries, RF Industries (Nasdaq: RFIL), Scantibodies Laboratory Inc., Pacira Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: PCRX), California Pacific Airlines, and Pacifica Cos., among others. McKnight said the firm tends to focus on public and private companies in the middle market, with revenues of between $10 million and $100 million.

McKnight’s own specialties include working with clients in technology, manufacturing and distribution, hospitality, and gaming. He’s experienced in transactions including mergers, acquisitions, and public offerings, something he sees less frequently in the current economy.

“With our clients, what they decide to do, whether they expand their business, is dictated by how successful they are. And when they aren’t, they aren’t doing as many transactions, not creating as much special work,” McKnight explained. It’s an industry-wide experience, making client procurement all the more important, he said.

The Cohn side of CohnReznick has been around since 1919, and specifically in San Diego since 1978.

“We have a really strong organization, with none of the litigation or other problems that you read so much about,” McKnight said. “We’re always interested in talking to other firms, other practitioners that have similar services and similar clients. We’re interested in exploring opportunities to expand the local practice through merger and acquisition.”

-McEntee is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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