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Supporting An Aggressive Growth Strategy

Accounting
Manufacturing & Distribution

 

We see 415 Group as more than a tax and auditing firm. They
truly care about where we’re going as an organization and what
they can bring to the table to help us grow. We didn’t get that level
of expertise and access when we were with a Big 4 firm.
– Kevin Gray, CEO, Lauren International

SEEKING A FIRM THAT OFFERED NATIONAL CAPABILITIES PLUS PERSONAL ATTENTION

In the 1990s, Lauren International was growing its business rapidly — and growing increasingly dissatisfied with its Big 4 accounting firm. CEO Kevin Gray recalls the experience as a frustrating one, filled with bureaucracy, Big 4 staff turnover, and a lack of access to experienced personnel.

“Having a national firm made us feel like we were at the bottom of the barrel,” Gray says. “It took an unbelievable amount of time, energy and appointment-setting to get their attention. We’re a company on the move, so when we need something, we need it now — not 30 days from now. The formality of that kind of large-scale organization didn’t fit our culture.”

CREATIVE THINKING BEYOND THE NUMBERS

Lauren wanted more than an accounting firm to handle tax and compliance, Gray says. It wanted a trusted business advisor that offered that rare combination of national capabilities and personalized service. 415 Group, through its elite affiliation with CPAmerica International, was a regional firm that could deliver the reach and resources of a global organization.

Founded in 1965, Lauren International is a $200 million holding company of marketleading manufacturing and entertainment businesses based in New Philadelphia, Ohio. CEO Kevin Gray, above, has been a client of 415 Group for more than two decades, a partnership Gray values for the strategic business advice that has helped steer his company through a period of tremendous growth. 

SUPPORTING AN AGGRESSIVE GROWTH STRATEGY

“It’s been a wonderful relationship, a long-term partnership, that we’ve had with 415 Group,” says Gray. “The talent is there. The expertise is there. It’s just much easier for us to get to it.” That expertise includes high-level advisory and consulting services — value-add services Lauren has come to rely on.

“When we sold one of our businesses, 415 Group came forward with an aggressive tax plan that did things we didn’t even know were possible,” Gray says, adding that Lauren was able to reap significant tax savings on the divestiture.

“We’ve come to realize how important that relationship has been to us, across our organization,” he adds. “The leaders of our various businesses regularly contact 415 Group for guidance. It’s been extremely beneficial to our growth curve.”

A MUTUAL EMPHASIS ON CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

Gray says that Lauren and 415 Group share a continuous improvement mindset— and that the two entities push each other to be better tomorrow than they are today.

“We’re always asking: how can we do things faster, quicker, better?” Gray says. “We are not interested in the 90 days that many national firms will tell you it takes to do an audit. We want to get it in, get it done, move on. Because those are distractions in our business. The sooner we can get that stuff behind us, the sooner we can be in forward-looking mode.”

“That’s been something that’s been so rewarding in working with 415 Group,“ Gray continues. “National firms might laugh you out of the office on those kinds of ideas. But 415 Group’s people say: ‘hey, let’s think about how we could do this better to help Lauren grow.’ That’s been a tremendous asset for us.”

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