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CPA firm Bowers & Co. heads north through acquisition

By Journal Staff


WATERTOWN — Accounting firm Bowers & Co. CPAs, PLLC has a new office in Watertown after acquiring a firm there.

The acquisition was effective Jan. 1. The Watertown firm, Sovie & Bowie CPAs, P.C., launched in 1978 and employed eight people at the time of the acquisition. Bowers has since added two more employees.

“We wanted to increase our presence in that market,” says Mike D’Avirro, co-managing partner at Syracuse–based Bowers. “We see it as a growing market.”

The firm already had some significant accounts in the Watertown area, he adds. And growth in the region driven by Fort Drum means plenty of additional opportunities for expansion.

While Fort Drum certainly boosts  growth at support companies and ancillary businesses, there is also development ongoing in the area outside the base.

“There are lots of cranes in the air up there,” says Carl Austin, Bowers’ other co-managing partner. “Arsenal Street has basically been rebuilt.”

Sovie & Bowie is the fourth accounting firm Bowers has added in the last six years. The Watertown location, at 167 Polk St., is the firm’s first satellite office.

Sovie & Bowie’s clients include nonprofit and government entities, medical service corporations, and large and small privately-held businesses.

Bowers & Co. leaders had explored expanding into other markets previously, but Watertown was the best fit. Sovie & Bowie also provided a solid base to build on, Austin says.

“It’s a nice firm,” he says. “It had a nice client base and some scale to it already.”

D’Avirro says Bowers can probably double the size of the Watertown office in the next three to five years. The firm brings services like estate planning, forensic accounting, financial planning, and business valuation that should help it grow in the North Country.

A smaller firm simply doesn’t have the resources to invest in such services, D’Avirro says.

Firmwide, Bowers employs 50 people, including 16 partners. That’s up from 19 people in 2004. Its services outside traditional accounting work have helped drive that growth, along with some specific niches, Austin says.

Bowers has a national practice in the transportation sector with clients in 35 states. The firm also works frequently with family businesses, which should help it in the Watertown area, Austin notes.

The firm also serves manufacturers, retailers, professional-services firms, construction companies, community banks, real-estate firms, and convenience stores.

Austin says Bowers continues to look at more regional expansion, but the fit has to be right. Markets like Albany and Rochester already have plenty of accounting firms in them.

“You’re running into each other there,” Austin says. “That’s why it made sense to go north.”

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