Celebrating ten years New York office

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Managing Partner Rick Kasnick together with Christian Rödl and Felix Madeja


published on October 19th 2023

   


In January 2001, Rödl & Partner opened the first independent branch of a German consulting and auditing firm in the USA in Atlanta (Georgia) together with the renowned auditing and tax consulting firm Langford de Kock & Co. under the name Rödl Langford de Kock LLP. Since then, further offices have followed - among others in New York.
Rick Kasnick has been with Rödl & Partner USA for more than 25 years in many functions. He now runs the New York office. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary, we look back on eventful years in the Big Apple with him in an interview.

 

Interviewpartner: Stephanie Cradick, Marketing Manager Rödl & Partner USA

How did Rödl Langford de Kock decide to open an office in the Big Apple?

After a successful relaunch of the Charlotte office, S.A. de Kock and I discussed a North-East Expansion of Rödl Langford de Kock. In close consideration were Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. We traveled to Philadelphia and New York City and narrowed it down to these two cities. Philly was initially the forerunner, as the Pennsylvania economic development group heavily courted us, and they have a strong focus on German investment. As our long-term plan included Boston, and Philadelphia, it was agreed that being in the center of the North-East market made the most strategic sense. As was the case with our other market expansion offices, we held to the belief, “Build it and they will come”, as the infamous quote in the movie Field of Dreams states.


And...did they come?

Yes, we have had double digit growth in all but one year since its foundation.


What were the biggest challenges in the process of opening a New York office?

New York is expensive, extremely competitive, complicated and has a mature market with regards to our practice. But through the experience from our previous successful office expansions, we knew that our business model works. You also have to remember: the logistics make sense. New York is the central location in the North-East, and it is after all – New York! “If we can make it there, we can make it anywhere!”  Joined by Will Dendorfer, who was at the time located in Munich, we leased some space close to Grand Central Station, in the Turtle Bay area of midtown Manhattan at the end of 2013. 


Where there any surprises opening the New York office?

I was surprised how difficult and bureaucratic doing even simple things is.


How did the New York office develop? 

We started with a small client base in New York, coming from the businesses I was serving from Charlotte, that were located in the North-East. Having complete trust in our model, the majority of other clients I was the Kummerer / Caretaker for, stayed in Charlotte to be serviced by Charlotte partners. We built a stable foundation for Steve Cooper to take over as managing partner in Charlotte and freed me up to turn to the new challenge in New York.

We leased some space at the end of 2013, thanks to the negotiation skills of Michael Hayes. The support of the firm, ensured I never felt like I was on an island, although literary we were. We took over a few existing R&P USA clients that preferred local service. This helped us build the foundation, so we could hire and build our team.

The first years were tough but having the financial support of our partners and the worldwide firm, allowed Will and I to focus on the task at hand: building our local presence and growing revenue.
One of the significant early challenges was rent expense, as a percent of revenue, which requires a certain level of revenue to be adequately covered. It is worthwhile to note our square foot cost of rent is 3-4 times our other offices in the U.S., however, since we creatively use our space, we generate 3-4 times revenue per square foot, so as a percent of sales NY falls in line with the other US offices.

Our business development activities greatly contributed to our growth, both Will and Gerhard Schneiders had a significant impact, additionally, our other business developers played a critical part. As business grew, I poached Jens Kaufmann from the Charlotte office, to lead our BPO practice. Since I hired him originally in Charlotte, I think in this case poaching is ok. No one expected our BPO practice to be significant given our fee structure, but Jens has exceeded all expectations by growing BPO to about a third of our revenue. His success resulted in him becoming Equity Partner in the US in 2019.

To further expand our leadership team, Birgit Kretchmer, who we enticed away from another German firm in NY, became Equity Partner in the USin 2020. We have since added 6 Associate Partners that have contribute greatly every day to our growth and success.



Where would you see the next frontier for Rödl Langford de Kock?


The US Firm leadership is continually evaluating, exploring, and expanding to the next frontier, so I would leave that to them to respond, but as far as the North-East… Boston and Philadelphia are next up, we are now building remote local teams on the ground with the intention to open physical offices in the near future. 

 
Thank your very much for the interview!

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Rick Kasnick

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