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Profile: Thomas Bonadio

Thomas Bonadio

Thomas Bonadio

This story appeared in the RBJ’s commemorative 30th Anniversary section. See more content related to the RBJ’s anniversary here.

Thomas Bonadio, managing partner and CEO of the Bonadio Group, has led the development of one of the largest accounting firms in the nation and the largest in Upstate New York.

Inside Public Accounting’s 2017 IPA Top 100 firms ranked the Bonadio Group at No. 45. Accounting Today ranks it 39th.

The firm has projected revenues of more than $106 million for fiscal year 2017.

But the future did not always look so rosy. Bonadio told the RBJ he remembers sitting at his desk in 1994, despondent about the state of his business. He had just split with partner Frank Insero, who took his personal clients with him to a new CPA firm. Cash was short, partners had gone without pay and Bonadio was running out of options to get them through to the busier period.

An infusion of $80,000 from the firm’s janitor, an Eastman Kodak Co. retiree, allowed Bonadio to guide his firm through the difficult period after the split and he has since led the Bonadio Group on a steadily upward trajectory. The firm has continued to grow through a series of mergers and acquisitions of smaller firms. It ranks No. 1 on the Rochester Business Journal’s most recent list of CPA firms.

In the late 1970s, Bonadio had a choice. As an up-and-coming accountant at the Rochester office of Arthur Andersen LLP, Bonadio knew his only real option for advancement would be to leave the area. But with a large Italian family in Rochester and no real desire to leave, Bonadio and fellow Arthur Andersen employee Insero chose another path.

In 1978 they founded Bonadio, Insero & Co., working mostly on tax-related work. The firm saw steady growth, moving into First Federal Plaza within a year and to the Times Square Building by its second year. By 1986 they had 10 employees and had moved to more spacious headquarters in Brighton.

Things got more difficult in the 1990s, when the company was hit by the recession and by differing ideas for the firm’s future. Insero’s outlook on management styles and how closely to work with clients differed from Bonadio’s, and the two split amicably in 1994.

The Bonadio Group formed a strategy for growth that has pushed it upward ever since. Bonadio says the firm is built on the cornerstones of great employees, great customer service, a plan for growth and “excellence in everything we do.”

The firm has organic growth of 5 to 10 percent annually, and in the last decade has undertaken 11 mergers that have helped it establish a presence beyond Rochester.

Bonadio in 2016 announced a leadership succession plan that will see him leaving his position as CEO in 2019, taking a new role. He will be replaced by Bruce Zicari, who has been a partner at the firm for 20 years.

Zicari has taken over as the Rochester office managing partner in preparation of taking over as CEO on May 1, 2019. Bonadio also has stepped out of his role as chairman and been replaced by Mario Urso.

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