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SB Partners Celebrates 50 Years 

For the past 50 years, there has been a growing group of accountants in Burlington, Ontario, dedicated to helping others. In 1974, what began as a small group of associates known as Scott, Batenchuk & Co. has grown into SB Partners, a regional firm of 65 people, including 8 partners. In a directory, you’ll find SB Partners listed as an accounting firm. To its clients and community, they are a collective dedicated to ‘accounting for the community’ through a deep-rooted sense of social responsibility and a client-first focus.

Accounting is a people-first business.

“50 years from now, financial statements are really going to be the smallest part of our business. As the field of accounting changes and adapts, the relationships that we build with our clients will be that of trusted adviser and consultant. These relationships will be the key to future success.” Melanie McLeod – Managing Director stated of the role accountants play for their clients.

SB Partners believe that integrity, innovation, creating a positive workplace and supporting their community are the keys to success.  Over the last 5 decades, they have established a reputation for their genuine commitment to client care, community involvement, and continuous learning.

From the outset, balancing work and family was important to the partners, and supporting the community where their clients worked, lived, and played was a natural extension of this philosophy. Burlington offered a diverse business community where people were starting businesses alongside mature, established ones making it a prime location to establish roots. Once that decision was made, the founders set their sights on becoming the accounting firm of choice for the city.

“We always had an entrepreneurial focus by working with clients to really help them meet their business and financial goals. Financial statements and tax returns are the tools that we use to work with clients to be able to do that.” – Glenn Taylor, retired Partner

With clients evolving needs at the forefront, SB Partners recognizes the unique perspective that accountants play in people’s lives and strive to offer more than just a tax filing service. Early on, the founding partners developed a health check-up covering tax planning, risk management, operating systems, computerization, finance, government programs, business succession planning, personal financial planning, and business development. This has served as the foundation for the holistic approach the firm takes to providing the trusted advisory services required to meet clients at every stage throughout life, and work.

As John Chisholm, retired Partner commented, “When we look at our evolution as a firm, and why we build skill sets and resources within the firm, it is because we believe they contribute to the growth and success of our community and specifically our clients.” SB Partners is committed to delivering a comprehensive level of service that rivals national firms, pursuing a continuum of care for clients as their businesses prosper and grow. All while ensuring a personalized level of service.

One of the key contributing factors in SB Partners’ ability to deliver quality service is knowing success starts internally. Many staff, and even partners, began their careers as co-ops with SB Partners. The firm takes the position that every team member should be actively mentored and have direct contact with clients from their first day. Clients have more than just a Partner or a Manager, they have the whole team looking out for them. By ensuring clients receive the information they require to make the informed decisions they need, when they need to, SB Partners sets themselves apart in the industry for their customer service and client-focused approach. This is ingrained in every new hire from day one.

Out of Office, In the Community

From the beginning, SB Partners recognized the value of being engaged in the community.  Over the years, the firm has been involved in numerous events and organizations. Joe Schlett, a retired Partner, recounts ‘the good old days’ when SB Partners would host client and staff appreciation days skating and playing hockey at First Ontario Place, often followed by watching the Toronto Maple Leafs game on a big screen.

Early on, SB Partners became involved in fundraising for the United Way. The annual campaign has been embraced by the whole firm. Every year there is something new, and it is always lots of fun. There have been many memorable experiences including:

  • The pie-throwing event resulted in contact lenses full of cream.
  • The successful attempt by the team to pull an airplane.
  • Endless fun with a dunk tank.
  • Team members sleeping in their cars for the “Sleepless in our Cities” Campaign.
  • And, being recognized by the United Way of Hamilton and Halton as Game Changers.

By the early 2000s, a more concerted effort was made not only to participate in the community but also to give back through individual acts of civic engagement and a collective focus on social responsibility. Health, education, the arts, social impact, and business development form the pillars SB Partners feel strengthen community and economic health.

SB Partners has been a key contributor to the Redevelopment and Expansion project for Burlington’s Joseph Brant Hospital and is currently supporting the hospital’s new mental health and addiction program, PHAST, which is providing a new, multi-agency approach, designed to bridge the gap in services for families in crisis. SB Partners was also a contributing partner to McMaster’s DeGroote School of Business campus in Burlington.

“Joseph Brant Hospital is a vital part of our community, and we are pleased to be able to contribute to such an important initiative that benefits the healthcare not only for Burlington residents, but those in surrounding communities,” – John Chisholm, retired Partner.

Managing Partner, Janice Pomerleau, is particularly proud of the educational pillar. SB Partners offers an annual bursary, through the Burlington Community Foundation, to a student from a Burlington high school who is looking to pursue a career in accounting or business.

As the firm grew, SB Partners became more involved in the Burlington Chamber of Commerce (BCC), looking for more opportunities to support the developing business community, and their growing client base. Having been a member for many years, the firm has offered sponsorship and support to numerous events and initiatives through the Chamber. In addition to the BCC, alongside other community leaders and the Burlington Economic Development Corporation, SB Partners has been dedicated to fostering economic growth in the region helping to attract employers and new businesses by showcasing why Burlington is a great place to do business.

What is the winning formula?

SB Partners continues to grow yet remains committed to the pursuit of client service excellence and community involvement. As an independent firm, they can provide their clients with the services they need throughout the lifecycle of their personal and professional business lives. In today’s environment of technological transformation, the firm is committed to continuing the tradition of personalized service to their clients.

In these times of rapid change, SB Partners can rely on its first-hand experience and expertise in transitions. Since its inception, SB Partners has grown from 2 to 8 partners and over 60 team members. This growth exemplifies the success that planning, nurturing, mentorship, and leadership can deliver. As partners have retired, and new ones stepped in, succession planning is something SB Partners is intimately familiar with. This has been a critical factor in the resiliency and success of the firm over the years.

As many long-term client businesses look to the future, they can trust SB Partners’ experience in helping design customized roadmaps for strategic or succession planning for their business. Whether it is helping clients grow their organization, transition their businesses to the next generation, or with post-sale wealth management, SB Partners provides a stable and trusted source of knowledge for their clients with over half a century of experience.

Burlington and the surrounding region can expect to continue seeing SB Partners out in the community. Whether it is a United Way fundraiser, awarding a student with a bursary, or supporting Joseph Brant Hospital one thing is for certain, SB Partners will continue their passion of accounting for the community and keeping a client-first focus. For the last 50 years, SB Partners has successfully turned the challenges of today into the achievements of tomorrow. The team looks forward to another 50 years, and beyond.

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