CPA firms launch
Following a reorganization of one of the region’s top 10 accounting firms, Barbich Longcrier Hooper & King no longer exists on the Central Coast. In its place, two new firms have opened in San Luis Obispo, both run by former partners of BLH&K.
Eric Schwefler and Gary Jensen have opened Caliber Accounting Group with offices in San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria, the former tri-county locations of BLH&K, while Wayne Longcrier has set off on his own with a new firm called Longcrier & Associates CPAs. Both companies launched July 1.
“We were at a point where we felt we could more effectively serve the client and provide greater opportunities for our co-workers by reorganizing,” Schwefler said.
Louis Barbich, a remaining and founding partner of BLH&K in Bakersfield, said the transition went smoothly and that “virtually all” of the firm’s employees and clients were placed where they wanted to be.
“It went very well,” Barbich said. “It was one of those things. It was time to reorganize and I think all of us will be stronger in our respective companies and it will work well for everybody.”
When Schwefler decided to start his own firm, Longcrier said he thought it would be easier to operate independently as well, as opposed to running the coastal offices of BLH&K on his own and having to travel constantly to stay in contact with the company’s Bakersfield headquarters.
Chris Will, Jody Marsh and Kim Spiller, former employees of BLH&K, have partnered with Schwefler and Jensen on the enterprise. Will, Schwefler and Marsh will head Caliber’s accounting and tax business, while Jensen and Spiller will run an audit and attest division.
“As part of the reorganization, several new partners were made in Caliber Accounting and it’s instilled a lot of new energy and provided for new opportunities, which has excited our folks and given us an opportunity to improve on the service we are able to give our clients,” Schwefler said.
The clients and employees that were previously affiliated with BLH&K’s coastal offices will mainly be divided between Caliber and Longcrier & Assoc.
“The clients were fairly easy,” Longcrier said of transitioning the clients from BLH&K to the new firms, adding that the professionals at each new firm will maintain the clients they had individually worked with at BLH&K. “Clients tend to bond in a one-on-one situation with the person they are working with as opposed to the firm as a whole.”
The heads of the two new firms then made a joint decision as to how the employees would be divided among their companies, Longcrier said, based on who worked with which staff the most and how compatible they were with staff personalities.
Longrier said the partners have worked together amicably to form their new companies.
Caliber now has about 20 employees and expects two more accountants to join the company this fall, while Longcrier has about 15 employees. Caliber maintains an estimated 650 to 700 clients totaling about 1,700 tax returns. Longcrier said he has about 600 clients that will file a total of about 1,000 returns.
“If you’re providing responsive, quality service for clients, there are a lot of people that need accounting,” he said.
Caliber and Longcrier are now sharing the San Luis Obispo office. Once the current lease expires, Schwefler said he plans to open new headquarters in Pismo Beach and Longcrier said he may stay in the same facilities.
“For the large part, our clients really aren’t noticing any difference in terms of service, other than a new firm name and phone numbers,” Schwefler said.