Baker, Peterson & Franklin has been a part of the Fresno community for a century, serving primarily agricultural businesses.
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
An accounting firm in north Fresno is marking 100 years of serving customers in the Central Valley.
The firm, Baker Peterson Franklin, has switched hands numerous times over the decades and has been in several locations, with its most recent address being in the Fig Garden Financial Center before moving in 2004. Currently situated at 970 W. Alluvial Ave. near the San Joaquin River bluffs, it is headed by Managing Partner Kyle Stephenson.
The staffing of the company, Stephenson stated, remains one of the biggest challenges for any business. He credits the employees, however, with Baker Peterson Franklin’s longevity.
“I think [the secret] in any business — whether your business or mine — is getting people that are intelligent, motivated and fit your culture because they become the contact point for your key clients,” Stephenson said. “And so I think the people side it will always remain a top priority to a high-functioning firm.”
To this effect, Stephenson stressed the importance of finding workers who fit the dynamic and the setting of the company, and have the ability to work with and off of others.
“Every firm has a personality as far as how they work, how they treat each other, how they expect client service to work, and so I think with that standpoint, we want people that are approachable,” he said. “They treat our internal customer, our personnel correctly, they treat our clients correctly, and so it’s just kind of a value system.”
Julie Maldonado, Baker Peterson Franklin’s director of sales and marketing, further attributes their success to their lasting influence on — and interactions with — their clientele.
“I think that’s a strength of our firm is we have very close relationships with our clients as their financial advisors, the integrity and the trust just goes along with that,” she said. “And we have a lot of multi-prong relationships in the business community and with a lot of community organizations.”
Tracing its roots back to 1917, Baker Peterson Franklin is the successor to related accounting firms, including Giffen, Hills & Carruth in 1944. The company merged with the national firm of Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery in 1968 and three years later, three of the partners from Giffen, Hills & Carruth — Robert Baker, Fred Peterson and Charles Franklin — acquired Lybrand, Ross Bros. & Montgomery, forming Baker, Peterson & Franklin CPA. In 2014, the name of the firm was simplified to Baker Peterson Franklin.
Today, the firm has a staff of nearly 50 employees and their approximately 30 CPAs and CPA candidates act as consultants to more than 500 client groups. Roughly half of their clients are involved in agriculture.
“I think… we’ve grown a lot over our history here and I think from the standpoint of our plans, [they] are probably going to continue to attract new client relationships,” said Baker Peterson Franklin Partner Dennis Veeh. “Our goal is just not necessarily to be status quo — it is to continually be able to grow. We think with that comes opportunities to be able to grow.”
With their extensive time in business and in Fresno, Baker Peterson Franklin has also taken it upon themselves to be heavily involved in local community. To celebrate their centennial, for example, the firm held a golf tournament to raise money for the Community Food Bank.
“In general, the firm’s philosophy has been because we’ve been in the Fresno area for 100 years, our firm is very civic and community-minded and we encourage the staff to get involved and give back,” Maldonado said. “So most of our professional staff are involved in some type of nonprofit organization in the community.”
They have further been a major supporter of the annual Fresno Food Expo, announcing the winners New Product Award since its inception in 2013.