2011 Edge Award Winners Announced


Leading Edge Alliance (LEA) — St. Charles, IL —The 2011 LEA Global Conference in New Orleans was the setting for the presentation of LEA’s prestigious Edge awards, which recognize the accomplishments of its member firms in eight key areas and acknowledges leading individuals in the profession by conferring three additional awards.  The scope of award areas indicates LEA’s core belief that continuing success is grounded in being accomplished in all areas of practice development and firm management.  Each of these highly competitive awards focuses on the firms and individuals exhibiting the high level of innovation and entrepreneurship that is a hallmark of LEA’s membership.   


This year, the Innovative Firm of the Year award went to Vasapolli & Associati (Turin and Milan, Italy.  The firm created a series of impressive initiatives on many fronts.  Vasapolli & Associati coordinated with other major businesses in the area to create a series of exclusive presentations at a world-class venue that attracted world-class speakers, high profile prospects, and massive news coverage and publicity. The series differentiated the firm from its competition while navigating thorny regulatory issues unique to its locale.


Marcum LLP (New York, NY) was awarded the Innovative Firm Initiative of the Year, which recognizes a specific project that successfully improves the operation or service delivery of a firm.  This year, Marcum successfully initiated two major programs.  The firm established itself as the premier benchmarking powerhouse for the fragrance industry by co-sponsoring a survey of the industry with Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and with Perfumer and Flavorist, a leading trade publication. In addition, it’s established a beachhead in China as an on-the-ground presence for SEC work that ensures PCAOB compliance and making significant steps toward establishing enduring relationships with Chinese firms and business.


Bob Glaser of Freed Maxick & Battaglia PC. (Buffalo, NY) achieved the title of Innovative Firm Leader.  In presenting the award, industry consultant Allan Koltin sat that “What Glaser did in 1998 may have been “the greatest thing in the history of public accounting: He convinced H&R Block that their firm was worth about two times its revenue -- and got it!  To this day, virtually nobody else has been able to do that. His wisdom and foresight remain prescient, enduring and relevant today. He is nothing short of a brilliant business leader.”


Freed Maxick also went home with the 2011 award for Outstanding Marketing Initiative, arguably the most competitive of all categories.  The firm was recognized for a variety of impressive efforts that enable it to significantly differentiate itself.  Programs such as a digital Facebook community billboard, community outreach and engagement through social media and digital space, social media education for employees at all levels firm wide, heightened brand awareness in the market and in recruiting efforts, and initiatives in the mobile smartphone space through customized apps and analytics were what made it the leader in this category. 


LEA’s Cultural and HR Innovation award honors the most creative and productive initiative or campaign focusing on an organization’s cultural and human resources development. Clark Nuber PS (Bellevue,


Washington), recipient of this award, made an extensive investment in time, money and hard work to build a customized program unique to its own firm and culture. The firm crafted a selective, research-based and remarkably effective Leadership Development Institute with unique and separate curricula for seniors and for managers that includes intensive shareholder involvement as well as ongoing leadership development for the program’s alumni. Evaluations by first-year participants gave it an 87% approval rating for relevance and career development.


Anders, Minkler & Diehl LLP (St. Louis, MO) won the award for Internal Technology Innovation, which highlights one specific technology project in the past calendar year that has successfully improved the operation or service delivery of a firm.  This firm implemented a virtualized server environment over a four-year period, including virtualization at the desktop level in 2011; cost savings of the entire initiative over a six-year period are expected to exceed $130,000. In addition, the initiative has created the opportunity to sell similar services to new and existing clients through its IT affiliate.


The firm’s managing partner reinforced the firm’s interest in promoting technology by surprising every single person in the firm with a brand new iPad 2 as a “thank you” for busy season. The buzz still is continuing six months later.


In an era in which many firm’s find themselves struggling with how to nurture and develop the skills of young professionals (YPs), LEA firms are on the cutting edge.  The winner of the 2011 Outstanding Young Professionals Program was Lane Gorman Trubitt, PLLC (Dallas, TX).  This firm’s YP program drives firm strategy for the short term and the long term – and it makes sure leaders of the business community at large see its young professionals soar. The group has attended more than 40 local networking events in less than a year, garners an impressive 85% voluntary attendance rate among its young professionals, has been responsible for 13 presentations to key prospect groups, and takes leadership on numerous volunteer activities in the community.


LEA’s award to recognize someone’s major/ongoing contribution to the industry is the Edge Innovation Award.  The recipient of this award can be from a non-LEA firm or organization as long as he or she is a forward thinking industry leader who is making an impact on the profession.  This year, the award went to CCH’s David Bergstein.  Bergstein was recognized for his willingness to share knowledge and information without expecting anything in return. 


This year, in order to create a better platform for giving these efforts the credit they deserve, LEA has created the Outstanding Community Service Award.  Two firms were recognized in this category.  For his highly visible campaign to use a pink-wrapped RV to raise awareness for the Susan G. Komen For The Cure, Wayne Pinnell of Haskell & White LLP (Irvine, CA); and for his linchpin role and leadership in the initiative to Drive Business Downtown in Greenville, S.C., Rick Davisof Elliott Davis LLP.


LEA initiated another award in 2011: The Legends Award.  This award recognizes leaders of the LEA who have had an enduring impact on their firm, the association, the profession, their staff, their partners and their clients.  In its inaugural year the Legends Award was presented to two leaders:  Carl Barranco of Wilson, Price, Barranco, Blankenship & Billingsley P.C. (Montgomery, AL) and James Warren ofWarren Averett Kimbrough & Marino LLC (Birmingham, AL).

About LEA:The Leading Edge Allianceis ranked as the 2nd largest international professional association of independently-owned accounting and consulting firms. The Leading Edge Alliance, which has over 180 member firms and 450 offices across the globe, enables member firms to access the resources of a multibillion dollar global professional services organization, providing business development, professional training and education, and peer-to-peer networking opportunities nationally and globally, around the corner and around the world.

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