Case Study: Smith and Howard, a Long-Term Partner

October 13, 2022

Back to Resources

At Smith and Howard, it’s our mission to build long-term relationships that deliver value far beyond what our clients expect from an accounting firm. We’re committed to supporting businesses throughout their lifecycle, from those exciting early stages through to acquisition and succession planning. 

Today, we’re putting the spotlight on one client that embodies this relationship: Abatement Technologies, a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of air abatement technologies that has entrusted Smith and Howard with their accounting needs since 1992. In the 30 years since, their business has changed dramatically. Through it all, one thing has remained consistent: the dedicated guidance of Smith and Howard.

Since Abatement Technologies first started to work with Smith and Howard, the relationship has evolved significantly. After being founded in the late 1980s, the business has grown revenue into the mid-eight figures, creating significant wealth for the founders. Abatement Technologies was recently acquired by a strategic partner, allowing the founders to retire safe in the knowledge their business will continue to go from strength to strength. 

To celebrate the company’s achievements, we recently sat down with Tom Nahigian, retired CFO of Abatement Technologies, to reflect on the company’s 30-year partnership with Smith and Howard.

Beginnings of the Relationship

Back in 1992, Abatement Technologies was a seven year old company experiencing significant growth. Tom and his partners began to realize they were outgrowing the needs of their existing accounting firm, a small local practice. They initially sought out the services of Smith and Howard to support them through an IRS Audit. After successfully completing this engagement, the relationship began to blossom.  

As a distributor in a high-liability industry, the leadership team at Abatement Technologies always had a steadfast commitment to doing things the right way. Throughout the audit process, they quickly realized that Smith and Howard embodied the qualities they looked for in a financial services firm:

“There were certain traits we don’t compromise on when it comes to CPA firms. Firstly, they have to be technically competent and pay strict attention to detail. But the most important thing is that they’re trustworthy––without trust, you have nothing. And this is something that Smith and Howard did better than any of our other suppliers; raw materials, professional services, or otherwise.”

––Tom Nahigian, retired CFO of Abatement Technologies

Trust is the foundation of all productive business relationships. At Smith and Howard, we believe it is important to build a comprehensive understanding of the businesses and industries our clients operate in. These company values don’t just apply to our client-facing leadership––we encourage everyone, from senior partners to administrative staff, to invest in relationships and get to know our clients on a deeper level. 

Smith and Howard: Multi-Discipline Expertise

After initially beginning with Smith and Howard’s audit team, Abatement Technologies gradually started to engage more practice areas as their business continued to flourish. In Smith and Howard, they had found a firm they could trust: a firm with the accounting and advisory skills necessary to handle practically the full spectrum of their business needs.  

Smith and Howard gradually began to provide more services, starting with tax work and expanding over the years to include various consulting engagements, exit planning, and even personal wealth management

“When issues arise, Smith and Howard are very creative in coming up with solutions that aren’t just practical, but are also affordable and can be done in an expeditious manner.”

––Tom Nahigian, retired CFO of Abatement Technologies

As the business continued to grow, Tom and his partners oversaw an expansion into the Canadian market. This international expansion opened up a variety of international tax and compliance considerations. With Smith and Howard’s expert support across outbound planning, transfer pricing studies, and other topics, Abatement Technologies built a robust international tax strategy that served as a foundation for their international expansion. 

Staying on the Front Foot in Times of Change

Recent years have seen significant changes to Abatement Technologies’ business. Following the 2018 South Dakota vs. Wayfair, Inc. Supreme Court Decision, the business went from having sales tax nexus in just one state to ultimately having nexus in over 40 states. With Smith and Howard’s support, Tom and his finance team quickly added the compliance infrastructure necessary to adhere to the new requirements. 

For a business that’s committed to doing things the right way, this was an important step:

“In recent years, Smith and Howard has been invaluable in keeping us abreast of changes to the tax code and wider environment. They’ve guided us through complex issues we had no knowledge of, and time and time again, it’s proved to be invaluable for us.”

––Tom Nahigian, retired CFO of Abatement Technologies

As Tom and his business partners began to approach retirement, they partnered with Smith and Howard to explore various exit strategies. Eventually, Abatement Technologies was sold to a strategic partner: a Canadian manufacturing firm in the same industry. 

An Enduring Relationship

Small details matter. For Tom and his team, knowing they could pick up the phone and connect with their CPA instantly was a fundamental element of the relationship. Tax issues can be intimidating, but knowing you have a trusted CPA in your corner makes it much easier to focus on running your business. 

Over the past thirty years, Abatement Technologies has engaged with practically every Smith and Howard service group, from Tax to Transaction Advisory. They particularly value the collaborative approach between different practice groups:

“Regardless of who did the work for us at Smith and Howard, they all knew our business and the expectations we had. And they always delivered. That’s why, from 1992 to today, it remains a healthy relationship––even though our company is dramatically different today.” 

––Tom Nahigian, retired CFO of Abatement Technologies

After the acquisition of their company closed earlier this year, Tom and his partners retired, but still stay in touch with their friends at Smith and Howard. In fact, they still have the original proposal they received from Smith and Howard in 1992––the official beginnings of a relationship that continues to this day. 

Partner with Smith and Howard: A Full-Service Accounting Firm

For businesses looking for an accounting partner that can support their needs at every stage of their lifecycle, Smith and Howard is the perfect fit. From delivering annual audits to navigating complex international tax requirements, our firm has the expertise required to build financial processes and controls that scale with your business. 

Through it all, we’re guided by our dedication to our clients and their businesses. We take our obligations seriously and aim to provide a superior standard of service that’s distinct from other accounting firms. 
Are you in need of a new accounting firm? Contact an advisor today to learn more about how Smith and Howard can help you reach your financial goals.

How can we help?

If you have any questions and would like to connect with a team member please call 404-874-6244 or contact an advisor below.