Spoor Bunch Franz, one of the Tampa Bay area’s largest and most respected accounting firms, announced today that it plans to merge with Dwight Darby & Company, an accounting firm that has served the Tampa Bay area for more than 70 years.
This merger, which is planned to take effect January 1, 2022, brings together two firms that are known for quality and hands-on customer service. With Dwight Darby’s presence in Tampa, the move will allow St. Petersburg-based Spoor Bunch Franz (SBF) to better serve its Tampa clientele, grow SBF’s client base, and increase flexibility for its staff living in Tampa.
Dwight Darby, founded in Tampa in 1950, helps clients in a wide variety of industries, such as condo/homeowners’ associations, employee benefit plans, not-for-profit, professional services, real estate development, automotive dealerships, captive insurance, and restaurants – all niches that complement the industries served by SBF. With Dwight Darby’s long history in Tampa, the firm has served multiple generations of clients, continuing to serve businesses decade after decade. Its loyal clientele are served by a loyal team, too, with an average tenure of more than 12 years.
Currently, SBF has 65 employees, and since the start of the pandemic in 2020, SBF has increased its staff by 10 percent. For the past two years, SBF has been both a Tampa Bay Times Top Workplace and a Tampa Bay Business Journal Best Place to Work.
The combined firm will have 77 employees, since all 12 Dwight Darby employees will retain their roles, including partner Dawn Lopez, who has been with the firm for over 28 years, and will become a principal at SBF. Financial terms of the merger are not being disclosed.
SBF has been growing steadily since its founding, the result of a 2016 merger of two large longtime Tampa Bay firms. In addition to its organic growth, SBF added employees and clients through a merger with the accounting firm Strawn, Marshall, Cunningham, Condon & Sweat in 2018.
During the pandemic, small- and mid-sized accounting firms like SBF have adapted quickly to change, and many have been able to grow as they provide comprehensive service to business clients navigating government assistance programs, business slowdowns, and cash flow challenges.
“Our two firms have a very similar focus and culture, and there’s a long history of friendship and professional respect between our partners. It’s a natural fit,” said Rich Franz, SBF’s managing partner. “Combining our firms will allow us to more effectively serve the entire Tampa Bay region. We look forward to carrying on the Dwight Darby legacy and welcoming Dwight Darby clients and employees into the SBF family.”
Since 2017, the Dwight Darby team led by partner Dawn Lopez has had to weather a number of challenges. Managing partner John Brannan and senior member and former partner Wayne Bond both passed away in a span of two years. Most recently, Dawn and her team grieved the loss of their partner and friend Brad Tushaus in May 2021. Through the grief and celebration of life for each loss, the Dwight Darby team has pulled together to continue serving their clients.
“I am so proud of how our team has come through with determination and resolve,” Lopez said. “Every Dwight Darby employee is so committed to supporting each other, serving our clients and our community, and we are excited to join SBF and continue that mission.”
SBF will continue to operate its headquarters facility in the Baypoint Commerce Center in North St. Petersburg, while adding Dwight Darby’s office in the Hyde Park area of South Tampa.
About Spoor Bunch Franz
At Spoor Bunch Franz, we have been providing full service accounting solutions since 1971. As CPAs, we pride ourselves on our objectivity, integrity, and special understanding of how financial decisions affect your lifestyle choices. We believe strongly in providing superior service, and offer a state-of-the-art technology platform to deliver convenient, 24-hour access to your financial data. Our St. Petersburg, Florida-based company does work around the country, offering assistance in such areas as business consulting, accounting, tax planning and returns, estate and trust planning, and audit and review. More information is available at sbfcpa.com.