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Eide Bailly to celebrate 100 years in business

Eide Bailly CEO Dave Stende (left) and Fargo Partner-in-Charge Ross Manson (right) are pictured here at the Eide Bailly headquarters in Fargo.David Samson / The Forum1 / 3
Eide Bailly is located at 4310 17th Ave. S. in Fargo and will be celebtaring 100 years in business this June.David Samson / The Forum2 / 3
Eide Bailly's history is told on the display wall inside of the Fargo office building.David Samson / The Forum3 / 3

FARGO—One of the top 20 accounting firms in the United States will celebrate 100 years in business next month. What may surprise readers is that the firm, Eide Bailly, is headquartered here in Fargo.

"I don't think a lot of people in North Dakota realize there is a top 20 CPA firm based in Fargo," said Fargo Partner-in-Charge Ross Manson.

Eide Bailly recently reported $265 million in revenue, making it the country's 19th largest firm. It operates 29 offices across 13 states, serves 59,000 clients, and employs 234 partners and 1,459 staff members.

The firm started out offering traditional services such as tax preparation and bank- or government-required audits, but it has diversified into financial, forensic and technology consulting services over time.

CEO Dave Stende takes pride in the fact that many local public accountants got their start at Eide Bailly.

"If you look around Fargo, Eide Bailly has alumni everywhere in town," he said. "At pretty much any business there is someone who started their career with Eide Bailly."

But as the firm has grown, it's also groomed and hired experts in other fields in order to provide more value-added services to its clients.

"When you think of Eide Bailly, you think of it as a CPA firm, but we have a number of non-CPAs who are consultants in a particular facet such as health care or we have forensics or business valuation people," Stende said. "It's a wide variety of services we offer now as opposed to 20 years ago.

Manson said that innovation is one of Eide Bailly's keys to success.

"The firm has been pretty innovative. You don't necessarily hear those words with accounting firms," he said.

Who were Eide & Bailly?

The first office of what would one day be known as Eide Bailly was established here in 1917 when Bishop Brissman & Co, a CPA firm based in Minneapolis, opened an office in Fargo. It was later renamed Culle, Eide & Co. when Oliver "Ole" Eide joined in 1944, and then Eide Helmeke when Maynard Helmeke became a partner in 1956.

In 1950, Charles Bailly, father-in-law of former Fargo Theatre Executive Director Margie Bailly, opened an accounting firm here known as Broeker Hendrickson.

The two firms competed against one another for over 40 years before joining forces to become Eide Bailly May 1, 1998.

Manson describes the merger as the springboard that propelled Eide Bailly into being a top 20 firm today.

Secrets to success

In addition to innovation, Manson credits careful growth and succession planning for the company's success. He said the firm has been successful in Fargo by staying closely connected to the community, realizing that as the community grows, they will as well.

He said Eide Bailly has found similar success in other mid-size markets, but also in a few larger cities like Minneapolis, Denver and Phoenix.

Stende said the firm hopes to reach a revenue goal of $500 million in five years. It also plans to open additional offices in the western United States.

"Our plan is to be at $500 million by 2022. We want to continue to focus on opening additional offices in the western half of the United States," he said. "We also want to continue to invest in these nontraditional services to bring value to the clients. Our strategy is to grow by acquiring firms in other markets, but it's also determining what other services we can develop to offer our existing clients."

No matter how big Eide Bailly gets, he said they'll always operate together as one firm.

"I know a lot of people talk about their culture. I'd put our culture up against any other CPA firm," Stende said. "We're very team-oriented. We have 29 offices, but we truly operate as one firm. We truly help each other out. We have fun at what we're doing. We create an environment that people really like. They grow and prosper."