Amber Nuse - McGee, Hearne & Paiz LLP. Courtesy McGee, Hearne & Paiz LLP

Wyoming accounting firm expands to NoCo

FORT COLLINS — Wyoming’s largest accounting firm is ready to make some noise in Northern Colorado.

“We’re actually a real fun group and get along really well,” said MHP Partner Amber Nuse, who is managing the new office in Fort Collins for the Cheyenne-based firm. 

“We recently had one of our staff people graduate from Leadership Cheyenne, and a bunch of us were there with kazoos when he walked onstage,” Nuse said. “People there said, ‘of all the people here I wouldn’t have expected that of the CPAs.’”

But expect some noise in the accounting business, as well, from McGee, Hearne & Paiz LLP, which currently has more than 80 employees, about half of them CPAs. Nuse said expanding to the new office at 155 East Boardwalk, Suite 320, was made with an eye at both taking advantage of the burgeoning job growth in Northern Colorado, as well as making inroads into recruiting more CPAs — both experienced hands and recent grads — within the Colorado borders.

“We recruit more than just out of the University of Wyoming — our demand is greater than that,” Nuse said. Historically, the firm has also heavily recruited out of the University of Northern Colorado, and to a lesser extent, Colorado State University.

Finding graduates willing to relocate to Wyoming is sometimes a challenge, Nuse said, so having a Fort Collins office should help with that recruitment effort. The firm also has a number of employees who already live in Northern Colorado, she said, so retaining those employees was also a consideration.

“That’s one of our goals, to have both entry-level and experienced people in this office,” she said. “We already had a handful of employees who lived in Colorado, so in an effort to maintain those folks we thought it was a good move. I actually have a house in both places, but it just takes time to make the adjustment.”

But there was no larger consideration than taking advantage of the business climate, both in terms of finding new business and individual clients. MHP is a full service firm — with the exception of SEC firms — and Nuse said there is a wealth of potential clients for all aspects of the firm.

One of her own areas of expertise, auditing for government and non-profit firms, is also a large aspect of the firm’s business. MHP, which has been the Weld County auditing firm, hopes to expand this business with its Northern Colorado office and has already found some success with a Colorado state agency.

In Wyoming, Nuse and the firm as a whole have concentrated mostly on municipal organizations — cities counties and school districts. With more than 40 accountants there’s a good chance someone has auditing experience in other government agencies, as well.

“We each kind of have niches in the firm; having such a deep diversity of experience we follow a team approach,” she said.  “If I don’t know the answer, someone in our office does. And if we don’t, RSM will.”

The firm was actually a part of RSM, formerly McGladrey, listed at the No. 5 largest national accounting firm, until 2000 when nine partners purchased their own company. MHP remains an affiliate of RSM, sharing computing resources and well as accounting methodologies.

The Colorado expansion came with a bit of a makeover for the company, with a rebranding that included its tag line. Seeking to shed a bit of its Wyoming-based branding, the company tagline has changed to “We Know the Territory.”

“We understand we’re establishing ourselves down here,” Nuse said. “Although we have an excellent reputation in Wyoming, we understand we need to build our reputation in Colorado.

“We’ve identified a couple of target areas: the high-wealth and trust area, as well as commercial business clients,” she said. “But we’re obviously wanting and willing to explore all potential business opportunities.”

Currently, the Colorado office holds as many as eight CPAs, though most are now splitting time between Fort Collins and Cheyenne. The company just finished a small remodel job, adding a reception area to two private offices, two meeting rooms and room for perhaps 20 cubicles.

“And we just got our phone number, 870-287-1041,” Nuse said, noting a 1041 is the trust and estate tax phone. “We couldn’t be any happier about that.”