LI-based payroll companies announce merger

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Two Long Island payroll firms announced their merger Thursday, saying they have formed a larger company that processes more than $100 million in salaries and wages for about 2,700 clients, company partners said.

Freeport-based Advantage Payroll Services and Associated Payroll Consultants of Hauppauge merged in an all-stock deal last month, said Rob Basso, president of Advantage Payroll Services. He declined to say how much the deal was worth.

"We were realizing that to grow at an exponential rate, the only way that was going to happen was through a merger or acquisition," Basso said. "We have been looking for the last five years for the right partner."

Under the merger deal, the owners of Associated Payroll -- Warren Simon, Ethan Grodofsky and Marty Lanz -- are now partners in the larger company, which will retain the name Advantage Payroll Services. Bernard Soto, a former partner at Associated, will serve as senior vice president of sales for Advantage.

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Simon founded Associated as a sister company to his pension firm, allowing him to provide both payroll and retirement plan services for clients, he said. Although the payroll company did well, processing about $25 million in payroll for about 700 clients, he said he realized that "the software and the way of doing business was inefficient." Simon had two choices.

"I could invest a lot of money or I could look for a partner who already had those systems," he said.

Basso described the merger as "the perfect marriage." Advantage -- which processed about $75 million in payroll for some 2,000 clients before the merger -- and Associated had similar clients that employ between 16 and 18 workers on average, Basso said. The companies' customer bases are heavily weighted toward the service industries.

Both Hauppauge and Freeport offices, which employ about 45 employees, will remain open.

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