The Mountain State’s TRUSTED news source.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.


Learn more about HD Media

Arnett Carbis Toothman, a 75-year-old Charleston accounting/consulting firm with presences in Pennsylvania and Ohio, has been sold to national conglomerate Baker Tilly.

Baker Tilly announced the deal in September. It became effective Nov. 1. Past websites that featured ACT now carry the Baker Tilly logo and information.

A past product of local mergers, ACT is for the first time controlled by an out-of-state interest. It had been the largest accounting firm in West Virginia, and one of the largest in either Pennsylvania or Ohio.

Baker Tilly has been on a 2021 buying spree, snatching up practices in Houston, New York and the Silicon Valley. It is the ninth-largest accounting firm in the country.

Company spokesperson Michael Pflughoeft said none of the 90 jobs in Charleston will be lost. ACT employed about 275 people, with another 50 elsewhere in West Virginia, 130 in Pennsylvania, and 10 in Columbus, Ohio. ACT also had West Virginia operations in Bridgeport, Buckhannon and Morgantown.

James Hunt, who had been working in Pennsylvania for ACT, will be the new managing partner for the Baker Tilly West Virginia and Pennsylvania territories. Hunt acknowledged the lucrative energy sectors present in West Virginia and western Pennsylvania were factors in Baker Tilly’s decision.

“That would have been one of the factors but by no means the exclusive factor,” Hunt said. “When I look at our Charleston office, sure we have a lot of oil and gas/energy expertise, but I also see expertise in health care, manufacturing — other areas extremely attractive to Baker Tilly.”

Hunt said ACT had established a far greater presence in Charleston and throughout the state than most people grasped.

Stories you might like

“The average person on the street would be shocked at the exporting of expertise,” Hunt said. “We did work in health care and manufacturing across the nation. There have only been about six states nationally in which we haven’t done work.” That work included tax preparation, auditing and consulting, Hunt said.

Of the three recent acquisitions Baker Tilly has made, at least two of them — AcctTWO in Houston, Texas, and Margolin Winer & Evans in New York — were smaller than ACT. The Houston firm employed 105 and MWE in New York 160. Pflughoeft said he did not have figures for the Silicon Valley firm.

West Virginia Chamber of Commerce President Steve Roberts said successful companies are often attractive acquisition targets.

“I think this can be a significant upside,” Roberts said. “We can bring some of that business to West Virginia and do it in West Virginia and it be potentially less expensive than in other cities. It’s been described as a net gain for West Virginia and I don’t have any reason to see it as otherwise.”

Kanawha County President Kent Carper said he hated to see a local business sold, but his devotion lies with his individual accountant or consultant, not the nameplate on the door. The firm has been through local mergers that did not lose his business, he said.

“I’m not personally pleased with that,” Carper said of the sale. “But it’s always been a national firm with people you can reach out and touch ... I always look to the person I deal with. But sure, I like the old days, when, for a lack of a better description, you had mom-and-pops.”

As for whether the sale will be good or bad for the city and state, Carper said “It remains to be seen.”

Greg Stone covers business. He can be reached at 304-348-5124 or gstone@hdmediallc.com.

Recommended for you