Eide Bailly Marks its 100th Year

Eide Bailly, born in 1917 in Fargo, N.D., is celebrating its 100th year in the same way that it has always operated, with team members enjoying their work and their colleagues.

“We’re not a stodgy 100-year old firm,” says MP and CEO Dave Stende. “We’re innovative, we offer a great learning environment and we have a lot of fun.” During the busy tax season, fun needs to be injected into the day to lighten the mood and sometimes a wacky costume does the trick. Staff members have been known to dress as Star Wars characters or movie stars from the 1980s. “It’s amazing how over the top some of them get,” Stende says.

Eide Bailly, which started with pencils and paper as its most advanced tools, is now one of the largest firms in the nation, with $269.4 million in revenues for FY17, 29 offices in 13 states and 1,700 staff members.

The story began when Bishop Brissman & Co. CPAs of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., opened a Fargo office. Eide Helmeke & Co., one of the two primary lines of heritage of Eide Bailly, eventually came into being from that Fargo birthplace. That name stayed in place until 1998 when the fim joined with Charles Bailly & Co. and assumed the Eide Bailly name. At that point the firm boasted $31 million in revenue and 56 partners. Growth really took off in the early 2000s, with new locations in Idaho and Oklahoma, then Minnesota, then Colorado and then Utah by 2012. Growth has continued unabated, and Stende is eyeing other areas in the West for further expansion.

Maintaining the firm’s team-oriented, fun culture across so many offices and states is one of the main considerations when Eide Bailly is looking to acquire other firms to continue its impressive growth. Stende says ‘are they a good fit,’ and ‘are we starting with a good group of people,’ are central questions in the merger process.

Technological tools keep team members connected, Stende says, and the firm gathers members together for various training events. While firm locations are vastly different – think of Phoenix versus Des Moines, Iowa, versus Norman, Okla., versus Mankato, Minn. – Stende says he strongly believes the firm reflects one culture with 29 different personalities.

Stende, who’s been with the firm for 35 years, says his mentors, who had been with the firm for more than 20 years when he was a young accountant, are responsible for the culture the firm enjoys today. He foresees technology continuing to change the profession profoundly, as artificial intelligence and other advancements promise to transform firms dramatically within five years.

“You must be doing a lot of things right to stay in business for 100 years,” Stende says. “For our next century, we’ll keep building on the culture we have to remain successful.”