CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Danny Simms, a self-proclaimed oil and gas industry expert, recently joined a larger Charleston accounting firm because he said it's time for him to "share the fun" of the industry.
For nearly 30 years, Simms' accounting firm offered assistance in the oil and gas industry, among other services, but the small firm sometimes struggled. Simms only had about five people working at one time, which prevented the firm from handling "big jobs" and growing, he said.
That changed when he joined Woomer, Nistendirk & Associates PLLC, an accounting firm started by Robert Nistendirk and Stephen Woomer 17 years ago. The firm on Capitol Street offers legal, medical, retail, manufacturers, nonprofit, and many other accounting services.
Joining the firm, Simms said, "has offered me something I've been having to fight for years which is staff size. There's a lot of opportunity for us in the oil and gas industry ... we're increasing the capabilities of our firm."
The "strategic partnership" at the accounting firm, Nistendirk said, is a response to the natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale formation that extends throughout most of West Virginia in addition to Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and other eastern states.
Before Simms joined the firm, Nistendirk said he would occasionally ask him questions about the oil and gas industry. Now that Simms is a part of the larger firm, accountants there can refer their clients directly to Simms.
Nistendirk believes the partnership puts the firm "one step ahead of the explosion," Nistendirk said.
"It's going to be explosive for every other business in the Appalachian [region]," Nistendirk said.
"What this Marcellus is doing ... it makes the businesses associated with it huge compared in the past," Simms said.
Service providers such as lawyers and accountants are beginning to see more work because of the increasing importance of natural gas in the state, according to Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.
With so much land being bought and sold because of the Marcellus Shale locations, these kinds of professions are seeing an influx in business, Roberts said.
"It's certainly being felt in the legal community -- surveyors are busy, land engineers are busy, law firms and accounting firms are busy. It's just beginning to work its way into having a ripple effect that goes as far as professional firms," Roberts said.
That ripple effect includes restaurants, gas stations and hotels that surround areas where Marcellus Shale drillings are occurring, he said.
"The trickle down is significant particularly to smaller retailers, those who provide things for people who are moving around the state and they would buy," Roberts said.