For a company, growth is good. But it also has a tendency to create problems.

Four years ago, accounting and consulting firm Baker Newman Noyes, based in Portland, was poised to add dozens of employees over the next few years through hiring and acquisitions.

Company officials were concerned about the possibility of running out of space, and they wanted to improve the efficiency of their operation as it became more complex. The 20-year-old firm focuses on serving a variety of businesses and high-net-worth individuals and families.

“We started thinking about it in 2011 because our lease was coming to an end,” Baker Newman Noyes principal and Chief Operating Officer Sean Sinclair said about the firm’s Portland office at 280 Fore St. “It wasn’t just about head count. It was about accommodating the variety of needs of our people – our employees and clients.”

The firm decided to negotiate a new lease that would expand the office size by 10 percent to 33,000 square feet. In addition, it began a lengthy and complex process to reconfigure the entire office to accommodate growth, improve work flow and enable employees to work more effectively.

In addition to retaining an architect and furniture provider, company leaders began asking staff and clients what features they would like to see incorporated into the redesign, Sinclair said. They conducted surveys and focus groups. Employees even were asked to submit drawings.


“We asked for their input in a lot of different ways,” he said.

Baker Newman Noyes, which does a substantial amount of tax-preparation business, mapped out the path of a client tax return as it moved around the office on its way to completion, Sinclair said. The new design would allow that path to become as simple and direct as possible.

Some employees requested more collaborative space, he said, while others asked for assurances that private space would be preserved for those who needed to work alone without distraction. Changes in office technology such as increased teleconferencing and the shift to digital documents also were taken into consideration.

“We actually shrank our internal storage space, because we were using so much less paper,” Sinclair said.

Redesigning the Portland office, which now contains about 140 employees, was only part of the company’s growth challenge.

It recently completed the acquisition of William Steele & Associates PC, a New Hampshire-based tax accounting firm, which added 16 employees to the firm’s Manchester operation, bringing the total employee count at Baker Newman Noyes to more than 200.


The former William Steele employees relocated Jan. 1 to the firm’s downtown Manchester office at 650 Elm St. in a deal that makes Baker Newman Noyes the largest tax practice in northern New England in terms of employees and revenue, Sinclair said.

In mid-October, Baker Newman Noyes hired 13 people, continuing an expansion that ramped up in 2010 when it opened an office in Boston.

“We’re doubling our size in Boston this year, so we do continue to grow,” Sinclair said.


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