Stark & Marsh CPA LLP is a firm of approximately 85 people in three full-time centres in southern Saskatchewan (Swift Current, Shaunavon, and Assiniboia) with satellite offices in Cabri, Kyle, Leader, Maple Creek, Mankota, Ponteix, and Val Marie. So how did we get here?
The Stark & Marsh story begins in 1921. Maurice Hesford began a private practice in Swift Current and operated through the ‘20’s. Over time, he was joined by Sidney Wik and Maurice Jeffery creating Hesford, Wik & Jeffery.
In mid-January of 1947, Gordon Stark moved to Swift Current searching for a job, and shortly after found a home at Hesford, Wik & Jeffery. Mr. Stark, the Stark in the current Stark & Marsh, bought out Mr. Hesford in 1949 and the firm became Wik, Jeffery & Stark.
Later, Stan Mabbs and Hank Millard joined the firm expanding the name to Wik, Jeffery, Stark, Mabbs, & Millard. During this period, they had offices on Central Avenue above Leacock’s Drug Store, above a doctor’s office, and above Standard Motors as they continued to expand.
It was during this period that two interesting events occurred…one good and one bad. In 1955, the firm started using a computer linked to other computers in Chicago and eventually Edmonton and, in 1961, bought their first stand-alone computer. The computer-age at the firm began. This was ground breaking, and is one of the most significant components of Gordon Stark’s legacy at the firm.
Meanwhile, in 1964, disaster struck while the firm was based on the upper floor of Standard Motors. A gasoline tank exploded in the service area and ignited the worst fire in Swift Current’s history. The fire, which completely engulfed the service area of Standard Motors and all of the shared offices above, continued for 4 days until it was completely extinguished. There was over one million dollars of damage and three people, including a fireman, were severely injured.
Two years after the fire, in 1966, Hank Millard retired and Lyle Blenner-Hassett joined the partnership. Shortly, thereafter, Bob Marsh, the Marsh of Stark & Marsh, came on board. He remained in the partnership until 1974 when he left and branched out to establish his own legacy in the City.
In the 70’s and 80’s, most of the long-standing Partners at Wik, Jeffery, Stark, Mabbs, & Blenner-Hassett retired: Sidney Wik in 1974, Maurice Jeffery in 1978, Stanley Mabbs in 1980, and Gordon Stark in 1989. They were the pioneers of our firm.
The next generation of Partners began their careers during this same period: Gordon Kushner in 1974 (1974-1983); Glen Rittinger in 1977; Ben Wiebe in 1982; Garry Trembath (1985-1988) and Greg Smith in 1985, and Garth Knakoske in 1986.
At the same time, Bob Marsh’s firm was also developing. His private practice began in an office on the second floor of the professional building in Swift Current and also included a satellite office in James Benison’s office (lawyer) in the town of Shaunavon. In 1977, Denis Ginet joined the firm for a three year stint in the partnership; Ron Siemens joined in 1979; Glen Budd came on board in 1982; and Keith Hagen was the last addition in 1987. Marsh, Siemens, Budd & Hagen were formed serving Swift Current at their location on 191-2nd Avenue Northeast and in Shaunavon at their location on 340 Centre Street.
In 1993, the remaining partners at Stark & Co. (Lyle Blenner-Hassett, Glen Rittinger, Ben Wiebe, Garth Knakoske, and Greg Smith) and the partners at Marsh, Siemens, Budd & Hagen (Bob Marsh, Ron Siemens, Glen Budd, and Keith Hagen) decided that one united entity would better serve their clients’ needs and Stark & Marsh Chartered Accountants was born paying homage to two of the noteworthy leaders of the respective firms in the new name. They established their office at 145 1st Avenue Northeast, while also maintaining the Centre Street location in Shaunavon.
Since the formation of Stark & Marsh, a number of the founding Partners have retired paving the way for the current generation of Partners to enter the practice: Bob Marsh (1998); Keith Hagen (2001); Lyle Blenner-Hassett (2001); Garth Knakoske (2010); Ron Siemens (2011); and Glen Rittinger (2012) retired as Partners with many of those individuals continuing to work on a contract basis for the firm following their retirement from ownership.
In their place, Bill Wiebe (2001); Leslie Neufeld, the firm’s first female Partner (2006); Vern Peters and Todd Loeppky (through merger with Peters & Loeppky in 2008); Shane Lacasse and Terri Olfert (2009); and Nadine Dyck and Elden Moberg (2015) were added to the partnership creating the existing Stark & Marsh CPA LLP partnership which included long-standing Partners Ben Wiebe, Glen Budd, and Greg Smith. In January 2017 Ben Wiebe retired from the partnership however remains active in the firms valuations & succession planning departments.
There have also been changes in addresses. The Swift Current operation moved from 1st Avenue Northeast to a new location at 365 Central Avenue North in 2007 to accommodate growth in firm personnel. While the Shaunavon address changed in 2012 to a larger location in the then-new Bennett Plaza for the same reason. In 2016, the firm acquired Claudette Palmier’s accounting practice in Assiniboia and established a permanent location in the Prince of Wales Cultural Centre to accommodate growth in south central Saskatchewan.
The current partnership is proud of our long lineage and the many long-standing relationships that we’ve been able to establish with clients throughout our firm’s history. We continue to service business, agricultural, governmental, and non-profit clients assisting in their ongoing operations, and look forward to the opportunity to provide our expertise to many more as we continue to add to the history of Stark & Marsh.
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