Firms charting path after stepping into Napa Valley

Regional accounting firms that recently made efforts to expand in the Napa Valley are moving into the next phase, positioning themselves with hiring and training in a county that has rebounded strongly after the worst of the recession, especially in the wine industry.

[caption id="attachment_69326" align="alignright" width="315"] (Clockwise from top left) Jeff Gutsch, David Brotemarkle, Greg Bennett, Rob Morris[/caption]

Among those expanding in the region is Seattle-based Moss Adams, which acquired Napa-based Rabanal & Smith as part of a planned expansion into the Napa Valley in August 2012.

The firm has hired a senior auditor, a staff accountant and a third staff member to the office since the transition, and is looking to eventually add two more individuals amid projected growth in client demand, said Jeff Gutsch, partner and wine industry group leader at Moss Adams. The office has also played regular host to regional staff for Moss Adams, which bases its wine industry practice in Santa Rosa.

Though the office now carries the Moss Adams name, the firm has made an effort to facilitate a smooth transition for clients of the former Rabanal & Smith, Mr. Gutsch said. Founding partners Jennifer Rabanal and Amy Smith joined Moss Adams as partners, and four remaining employees were also brought on board.

A physical footprint in the Napa Valley is expected to provide a more convenient base for connecting with current and prospective clients in wine, food and beverage manufacturing and other industries in Napa and Solano counties, Mr. Gutsch said.

"It's going exactly as it was planned," Mr. Gutsch said. "After six months, to me, for an office of six people, that's a lot of growth."

Also among those with new offices in the region is Santa Rosa-based Zainer Rinehart Clarke CPAs, which added a third office, in St. Helena, in November 2012.

The opening coincided with the hiring of seven individuals, including well-known wine industry accounting leaders like Dale Brown and Robert Holder, said Meredith Rennie, owner and director at Zainer Rinehart Clarke. The firm also recently hired four graduates of Sonoma State University's accounting program as staff accountants, she said.

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