Baum, Smith & Clemens celebrates 50 years, looks to future

Harleysville, PA, May 2023– Not many businesses make it to the 50-year mark, but Baum, Smith and Clemens, a Harleysville-based accounting firm, is celebrating that milestone this year.

Founded in 1973 as Lawrence & Baum, Tim Clemens and Judy Smith joined the firm in 1984 and changed the name to Baum, Smith & Clemens.

As he begins his transition to retirement, Clemens said he’s leaving the firm in good hands with a new generation of partners that are keeping up the culture and service that the firm has always been known for.

He said the firm is serving the same kind of clients it always had, which crosses a wide range of businesses from medical to manufacturing.

“We didn’t really turn clients away, Clemens said. “Whatever they did we learned it and we grew with them.”

Their services have mostly stayed the same. They offer tax service and financial reports as well as forensic accounting and other services.

“The big difference today has been the technology and how we handle the technology,” he said. “Before computers we had the same type of client, but now we can do a lot more and a lot more quickly.”

But using technology means technological knowledge, so part of the evolution of the firm over the years has been to bring in people with the technological skills that can use the latest soft­ ware to best serve clients. Today’s accountants are much more tech savvy, he said.

But it isn’t the technology that keeps the company moving forward, it’s the culture, Clemens said.
“I think we care about our clients and our relationship with our clientele,” he said. “When you’re working with closely held companies and privately held companies you’re working with the owner.”

He said he and other partners in the firm have made great friends with many of their clients over the years, which has ben­efited the company in many ways. One way has been in recruiting.

Jennifer Landis, a partner in the firm, said she began at Baum Smith & Clemens as an intern because of work relationships.

“One of the reasons I came here was because one of the friends of my family was a client,” Landis said.

She was impressed by the firm, especially by the fact that it was one of the few accounting firms in the region that had a female partner at the time, which fit with her goal of making partner.

“I told Tim right in my interview that I wanted to make part­ner,” she said.

Gary Schultz, managing partner of the firm, said those rela­tionships show in other ways as well.

Founding partners Richard Baum. Judy Smith, and Timothy Clemens

Tad K. Schantz, Christopher Waldho( Jennifer L. Landis, Gary Schultz, Rose Hartle and Roy P. Kershaw

“A lot of our clients have been with us for a long time:’ he said. Having those relationships that have grown over the years will help the firm transition those clients to the next generation of partners.

“To be able to carry that on is our goal,” he said.

Meanwhile, keeping long-term clients is bolstered by keeping long-term staff.

Schultz said the firm has been working to make sure everyone maintains a healthy work life balance and has been focusing on such quality-of-life issues as hybrid home/office work schedules.

“Being flexible has worked for us,” agreed Landis.

Caring about the job is also important, she said.

Her favorite part of the job is that she’s getting to help people make smart decisions about their business.

“Accounting is a field where you help people every day,” she said. “Sometimes we’re helping people with major life decisions. We don’t have any skin in the game so we can make rational decisions instead of emotional ones!”

As the firm heads into its next 50 years, Schultz said he’s happy to see that the firm hasn’t changed much since he joined as a staff accountant in 1986.

He worked with the original partners and grew his career with the firm.

“Now, I get to see the partnership group that will lead us to the future,” he said.

Article originally written by Stacy Wescoe for the Lehigh Valley Business Journal.