Three longtime partners to depart Eide Bailly

April 27, 2020

This paid piece is sponsored by Eide Bailly LLP.

Some familiar names and faces at Eide Bailly LLP will be retiring May 1 after decades of service to their company and community.

With more than 120 years of combined experience, Peggy Rang, Keith Severson and Jeff Strand have left a lasting legacy at the Sioux Falls firm and in the broader community.

All three have seen Eide Bailly grow into a top 25 CPA firm in the nation that currently has more than 40 offices in 14 states, as well as an office in Mumbai, India. The growth has been consistent and intentional, expanding in regions, services and industries to better serve clients and offer more opportunities for staff.

They all came into the field in 1979, and all said they felt this was the time to move on to a new phase in life and open up opportunities for a new generation of leaders.

Peggy Rang

From a girl growing up on a farm in Brandon to the head of Eide Bailly’s Sioux Falls tax department, Peggy Rang has loved her profession since she first took a bookkeeping class in high school.

“It just drew me,” she said. “In all honesty, I just loved numbers.”

She began as a bookkeeper while still in school, working part time for a small carpet business. After graduating from Nettleton College in Sioux Falls, she joined J. Noonan Co. in 1979 before moving to Charles Bailly & Co., which would later become Eide Bailly LLP.

Rang became a partner in the late 1990s.

As a woman, she was one of few in the field.

“It was really uncommon,” she said. “I think I was the third woman to become partner in our firm. That’s probably one of the biggest changes. Starting maybe 15 years ago, there were more women coming out of school than men in accounting.”

For Rang, the role offered a flexible way to manage work and home life, she said. She served on her church council, taught Sunday school, mentored through EmBe’s Women’s Leadership Program and spent many years on the board of Youth Enrichment Services, which became the Boys and Girls Club of the Sioux Empire.

“I’ve really enjoyed the chances I’ve had to work with kids and give back to our community in that way,” she said.

Rang also became tremendously knowledgeable in the areas of medical practice management, client accounting, small-business consulting, and individual and corporate taxation. As the head of the tax department for 20 years, she was able to broaden her role.

“It was great because some of my focus shifted to internal clients and developing staff and getting teams together, which was exciting too.”

The changes in the tax field during her career have been “staggering,” she added.

“And along with that, the changes in technology and software. But I’m somebody who will get bored easy, so it’s something that’s always kept my interest. Every day is different and new.”

Her days going forward likely will include family, volunteering and eventually some travel.

“Looking back, I’ve just had such really, really great people to work with over the years,” she said. “None of this happens without them.”

Keith Severson

For many, Keith Severson is the face of Eide Bailly in Sioux Falls.

He has served as chairman of the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce.

He serves on the board of trustees at his alma mater, Augustana University.

His resume includes numerous board roles at various Sioux Falls area nonprofit organizations.

From chairing the Dakota Bowl in 1984 to fundraising efforts with Forward Sioux Falls, he has been there.

And while Severson officially ends his partnership in Eide Bailly on May 1, he’s not leaving the community.

“I’ve been blessed and lucky beyond imagination when I look at a career that has exceeded expectations,” said Severson, who was born in New York and moved to Sioux Falls at age 7.

“It really is part of our culture at Eide Bailly to support the community. We’re a big firm with a lot of national resources, but I’m really proud of what Eide Bailly has accomplished in Sioux Falls as it relates to the community. That’s an important part of our growth in the future.”

Like his Eide Bailly partner Rang, Severson began his career at J. Noonan in 1979, served a brief stint in 1986-87 as general manager of Sullivan Inc., a home decor wholesale supplier, and joined Charles Bailly & Co. in the fall of 1987.

But his initial career goal was to own a business. A conversation with his father while in college led him to accounting.

“My goal was always to own a business and figure out how to learn to run a business,” he said. “I think the financial side is critical and thought becoming a CPA would give me the background to be a business owner.”

Instead, he became a partner in Eide Bailly in 1990 and has helped countless business owners with their own financials. Severson’s clients include privately held companies, construction, real estate, medical clinics, ambulatory surgery centers and physicians.

“It was an opportunity to get to meet so many people,” he said. “Being in Sioux Falls and watching the town grow and working with community leaders has been so rewarding. To watch the growth from where we were in 1979 to 2020 has been phenomenal.”

At Eide Bailly, he went from being one of few partners to a firm he estimates has grown tenfold.

“And I’ve had opportunities to be on our internal board and be chair in the 2000s at the firm level,” he said. “To help establish some of those growth opportunities was pretty exciting. Eide Bailly culture first and foremost is about supporting our team internally, our clients and communities. And getting involved is a very important aspect.”

While he will have more time to hunt, fish, golf and ride his Harley, Severson won’t leave his commitment to community behind.

“I’ve always believed in balance. And at Eide Bailly, the culture is we live and work hard in our business, but we have a life outside too. And I’ve always enjoyed all the things South Dakota brings,” he said.

“I just think there’s a next stage. To be honest, I’m not sure what it is, but I will continue to stay active on boards and look at other opportunities. I’ve just been blessed. I’ve been in the right spot at the right time and been able to grow with Sioux Falls.”

 Jeff Strand

For North Dakota native Jeff Strand, Sioux Falls quickly became home.

The NDSU graduate began his career in 1979 for a small North Dakota firm that merged into Charles Bailly & Co. in 1984. In 1988, he moved to Sioux Falls, where he became a partner the following year.

“At that time, there were two partners,” he said. “Then a couple years later, we jumped to four, and now we’re at 23. For me, the appeal has been the constant variety. When I graduated college, they said you would probably change your profession five or seven times. And I have probably done that, but it’s all been inside the firm.”

Strand has served clients in a variety of industries, from agriculture and finance to professional services. He also has served Eide Bailly in numerous leadership roles. He was partner-in-charge at the Sioux Falls office in the 1990s, when he took an especially memorable trip to Siberia in 1992.

“It was right after the fall of communism, and they needed an audit performed on a bank out there,” he said. “I was our industry director, so I went, and the office loved it because they got to say they sent the partner-in-charge to Siberia. It was a joke for quite a while.”

He also has served as regional director and director of professional practices, handling quality control processes firmwide. His current role, risk management adviser, involves handling the firm’s insurance portfolio and any client or legal issues at the firm level.

“I’ve met a ton of wonderful people, clients, and there was a time when I got to know most of our employees across Eide Bailly,” he said. “Back when we were about 1,200 people, I probably knew the vast majority, so it’s been a fun career.”

Strand became connected to the Sioux Falls community early in his career. The year he came to town, in 1988, he started volunteering with the first Sioux Empire United Way campaign. He’s currently the organization’s community impact chair. His volunteer service also has extended to Youth Enrichment Services, the Glory House and the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, where he finishes a board term this year.

In retirement, he has five grandkids who will keep him busy, and he is interested in serving on some for-profit boards “as time goes on,” he said.

“It just seemed like the right time to transition. We’ve got great young partners, and I want to give them the same opportunity I had.”

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Three longtime partners to depart Eide Bailly

Some familiar names and faces at Eide Bailly LLP will be retiring May 1 after decades of service to their company and community.

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