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One on One: Brian Renstrom, Massachusetts Managing partner at blumshapiro

This article was originally posted on the Telegram.com website

 

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Insights  <  One on One: Brian Renstrom, Massachusetts Managing partner at blumshapiro

This article was originally posted on the Telegram.com website

 

This article was originally posted on the Telegram.com website and can be viewed by clicking here.

WORCESTER — Brian Renstrom spent his college years in Worcester, but he hardly recognizes the city today. Mr. Renstrom has returned to take charge of the new Front Street office of the accounting and consulting firm, blumshapiro. The firm’s Massachusetts managing partner, he last called Worcester home more than 40 years ago. Since then, the state’s second largest city has transformed, from the increase in new businesses settling into downtown, to the explosion in development around the Canal District. Mr. Renstrom was even struck by how much his alma mater, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, had built up its campus. All of this growth bodes well for blumshapiro and its push into Central Massachusetts, where the firm has already identified between 350 and 400 potential clients.

blumshapiro first moved to Massachusetts from Connecticut in 2015 with 50 employees, seeking to capitalize on the Bay State’s robust economy; the firm now has about 180 people working in the state, spread around offices in Boston, Quincy and Newton. The 5,000-square-foot Worcester office in the Mercantile Center, with 15 employees and room for 30, is the firm’s newest digs, setting up blumshapiro to take advantage of the concentration of middle market companies in the region. Worcester especially is ripe with such businesses, usually owner-managed with around $25 million to $500 million in revenue, and they’re being underserved, according to Mr. Renstrom.

What’s behind blumshapiro’s continued expansion throughout Massachusetts?

We looked at what we were doing here, and it became apparent that traffic was becoming a business issue, both in terms of the burden it puts on our people, and how we service clients across the state. So what we started to do from a real estate perspective is a hub and spoke strategy. We had a pretty fairly sized existing operation in Quincy, and we upgraded that space and started to look around at where else we were. We upgraded our space in Newton and upgraded our space in downtown Boston. Then we saw a real need from a client perspective as well as a people perspective in Worcester. The city presented an opportunity for us.

Why Worcester?

We see this move as a strategic one, that the city is right down our alley in terms of how we want to grow organically. We saw the market opportunity as very ripe. We also were bolstered by what we perceive as the Worcester momentum, with the WooSox and the investment being made in the downtown.

You graduated from WPI in 1982. Has the city changed much from when you were living here?

Believe it or not, when I was here, there was no DCU Center. The whole downtown is completely revitalized. From my perspective, Worcester when I was in school was always sort of the meeting of the highways. There were a lot of warehouses and distribution stuff. But now you have companies like Unum, and you have a major presence by banks. The city has become much more viable and robust from a business perspective. Even looking at WPI, what they’ve done is just incredible: That whole complex is not even close to what it was when I left the college. All those new campus dorms didn’t exist. The turf on the field wasn’t there when I played football; it was grass. It’s unbelievable what WPI has done from an investment standpoint to their campus. So it’s like night and day. The whole town is like night and day.

When a firm like blumshapiro decides to move to Worcester, doesn’t that lend some credibility to the whole idea of a Worcester renaissance?

These companies are pretty sophisticated. They need a wide variety of capabilities. And that’s where we think we’re different. First of all, we’re focused on this space; it’s not a hobby to us. The bigger firms look at middle market companies as a hobby, and the smaller firms don’t have the capabilities to serve them. We have close to 600 people (in the company). We can handle things like international tax and state and local tax. We have advisory services.

We take out the back office for our clients. We become their CFO, comptroller and head of HR. We become their IT shop.

Why do you believe these middle market companies are underserved?

What’s happened, especially in Massachusetts, was a number of large, middle market accounting advisory firms merged upstream into larger companies, and those larger companies have said they won’t support them servicing that middle market client, telling them they have to go get public companies. They’ve misserved them for three to five years. And over the last three years, we’ve had well over 100 clients come with us who used to be with those firms, because they stopped being serviced.

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