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By Donalee Moulton
Published March 2009
Publication: The Bottom Line (Adobe PDF Document) (470 KB)
Canada’s newest national accounting firm is celebrating – and grieving. The founding partner of Meyers Norris Penny LLP, Ron Meyers, has died. His legacy lives on.
“As MNP’s first managing partner, Ron became known to his partners and team members as the tall, boisterous, hand-shaking man who played a mean guitar at office parties,” said Don Penny, another founding partner of MNP, who was recruited personally by Meyers in 1962.
“Ron promoted organic growth and insisted that people address him by his first name,” he added. “Being on a first-name basis with everyone, regardless of position, may not be unusual now, but it sure was for an accounting firm in the 1950s.”
That seeds of Meyers’ unique legacy sprouted in Brandon, Manitoba, when as a newlywed and a new chartered accountant he moved to the community and a job with Laird Sprague. He went on to become partner, and then owner.
A few years later, in 1957, the Winnipeg office of the firm announced a merger with a large firm. “Ron Meyers as a young man was given the weekend to decide whether he wanted to buy the Brandon office or merge,” said Daryl Ritchie, chief executive officer of MNP in Calgary.
“He decided to take the leap,” he added.
That leap served as the foundation for what would eventually become MNP. Ritchie remembers in 1978 an office that was filled with camaraderie, ideas and energy. “I was a student – and I learned so much from Ron Meyers,” he noted.
At that time, he added, the firm had revenue of about $2 million and five offices in Western Canada. Today the chartered accounting firm is the seventh largest in the country, and last year made its first foray into the Ontario market by merging with Toronto-based Horwath Orenstein LLP.
More than 50 years after Meyers took the helm of his newly acquired company, MNP is one of the largest full-service firm in western Canada with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. It is also a member of one of the world’s largest international networks and had revenues exceeding $210 million in 2007, achieving more than 20 per cent growth year over year. Most recently the 64-year-old firm has set, met – and exceeded – targets that called for doubling revenue in the first and last five years of this decade.
“We want to be a $500 million firm in the next five years,” said Ritchie. “It is the next step in our evolution.”
That evolution came to life under Ron Meyers’s leadership. “A lot of the things we are today came about because of Ron Meyers,” said Ritchie.
For example, it was Meyers, awarded the accounting profession’s highest honour – the FCA designation – in 1987, who conceived and launched the annual partner trip as a means of building a solid team, and expanding the horizons of that team. For a strong team, Meyers knew, was central to success.
On many levels, building that team was a natural extension of Meyer’s rapport with people, and his belief in them. “He was the type of person you could always talk to; he always had time for you,” said Ray Baker, who worked side by side with Meyers, first as a student and then as a partner.
“His management style was by consensus, by getting people to meet and talk,” he added.
Organic growth has been the number one driver for Meyers Norris Penny, which today has roughly 2000 employees, but when opportunity knocks, MNP has answered the door. On the other side was often a savvy, jovial Ron Meyers.
Even after Meyers retired, the culture he fostered at MNP lived on. For example, when the company decided to become a national player, the partners were open to the idea of a merger – with the right firm. For MNP, a merger is only considered if the other firm shares the same vision and culture, and there is a strategic reason to join forces, said Ritchie.
The cornerstones of MNP’s culture laid down by Ron Meyers have stood the test of time, noted Ritchie. “Through mergers, acquisitions, recruitments, leadership changes, geographic expansion, service line expansions and the continuous changes in the business and social environments, MNP’s culture has stayed remarkably true to the foundations upon which the firm was built.”
In his life outside accounting, and most recently as a retired accountant, Ron Meyers traveled the world with his wife Grace and spent time at home with his four children and thirteen grandchildren. One of those children, Bruce, and more recently one of the grandchildren, Laura, has followed in Meyers’ footsteps as a chartered accountant.
“We will be forever grateful for Ron's contributions and dedication to MNP,” said Ritchie. “Ron put in place the elements that allowed the firm to grow rapidly, but gracefully, from its beginnings as a fairly typical local accounting firm in Brandon, to the firm we have become today.”
And Ron Meyers did it all with a warm handshake, a friendly smile, and love of laughter.
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