Howard Rosen is the president of Rosen Sapperstein & Friedlander LLC, a company comprised of business consultants and certified public accountants. Based in Owings Mills, Maryland, RS&F provides high-level consulting, auditing, accounting, and tax advice with the aim of helping clients grow sustainably and strategically. As CPAs, RS&F’s staff adhere to a rigorous code of ethics that emphasizes accountability, compliance, timeliness, and approachability. RS&F was founded in 1979 as an accounting firm; since then, it has grown to offer clients a comprehensive range of full-service capabilities.
How did you get your start?
HOWARD ROSEN: It’s been a very interesting journey. I was a partner in another CPA firm in town, decided to leave, started the practice. At that time it was just two of us. We started with just a lot of hope, and what happened as we saw was that it evolved into something that today we have 50 people in the organization. At the end of the year we’ll be up to about 60 individuals. It’s been a great journey—a lot of fun. We always saw ourselves as accountants with a bent on consulting. We really always saw ourselves truly involved in consulting on behalf of our business clients, as well as all of our high net worth individuals. We’ve always looked at the opportunity that was lacking, we thought, in the marketplace, and that’s why I started 35 years ago.
Rick Sarmiento was one of your early clients—how did you get hooked up with him?
Rick Sarmiento was a very interesting story. We started with Rick Sarmiento. He had the White House/Black Market. When we started with him, at first, I must say he decided to go with another accounting firm. The story, as he remembers, is that he called them up, didn’t get a return phone call for two months, and then called me back. One of the first things we did when we got together with Rick was look at his organization and saw that, over the years, even though he expanded, he had a lot of poor C locations—and in real estate, it doesn’t get better with age. Naturally, it was going to just continue to hurt profits in the future. So, we decided to close 40% of the stores, went through a lot of changes organizationally, and then we went forward. He went out, got some private equity money, built up, continued to build the company, and, ultimately, he was able to sell out to Chico’s, where they have 101 stores for $90,000,000.
Rosen, Sapperstein & Friedlander recently expanded its healthcare practice into Florida – why Florida?
A lot of the population of Florida—they have a lot of healthcare issues going on there, and as we kept meeting with some of the firms down there, we found out that there was a great opportunity, and a lack of people who understood how to navigate through this whole new healthcare dilemma that we’re all facing. The laws are changing. They’re changing almost daily, and staying up with it and giving clients some needed advice we felt was a great opportunity. So, this has become what we believe is going to be a very, very strong marriage between two organizations.
How would you describe your clients? How involved do you get in their business transactions?
We’ve always been serving middle market. And, so, serving the middle market businesses, naturally many of them grow and, at some point, are looking to either acquire other businesses or sometimes they want to cash out and sell their businesses. We’ve had many, many transactions. Some have gone public, some have ended up being acquisition targets, and, along the way, we feel we have developed a strong skill set in helping our clients really navigate through that whole process.
It’s a very different process, and, for the first time, many of these entrepreneurs are selling their business. For that, there’s a lot of changes that are going to occur in their world, and so we believe that they’re in need of a lot of good, strong consulting advice, a lot of strong tax-related advice, and we’ve had a lot of success in working with those type of clients. That’s the core of our type of clients, anyway. We deal with middle market companies. Our best clients are the ones who are working towards growth and want to see themselves as continually growing throughout the region.
Your two sons are in leadership positions at RS&F. What do they do there?
Jeff is the Director of Operations. David is our Director of Tax. It’s under their tenure. While they’re there, that we’ve had some very significant growth. We have been able to provide better services in the tax area. We’re bringing in a lot of high net worth individuals, and David has been the catalyst behind that. He has just been the architect of that entire plan. Jeff has been involved in working in the accounting side, but also in the operations side, changing a lot of ideas that we have moving into the future. He’s also in charge of our technology group, so he has a lot to do with what is going on in the business and the changes that are occurring.