Nearly 30 years ago, Kenneth Bauknight, CPA, and two partners left the security of their day jobs to start a new public accounting, tax and consulting firm in Columbia, South Carolina. Today, Bauknight Pietras & Stormer, P.A. (BPS) is the largest certified public accounting firm in the Midlands and a trusted advisor to businesses and individuals across South Carolina and the country. Based on his leadership and contributions to the community, Bauknight has been recognized by Columbia Business Monthly as one of 2019’s 50 Most Influential People.
Each year Columbia Business Monthly honors the 50 Most Influential People in business, government, education, legal, economic development, and non-profit sectors. Honorees are nominated and selected based on interviews with peers. The contributions of these individuals are important in the shaping the Midlands’ community landscape now and in the future.
“To say that I’m honored is an understatement,” says Bauknight, a Columbia native, who got his start in the accounting field first as an agent with the Internal Revenue Service in Houston, Texas, and later with then Big Eight public accounting firms Ernst & Whinney and PriceWaterhouse. “We started BPS because we (the founders) wanted to live and work in Columbia and control our own destinies. There was no better place to start our practice; the business community and individuals who wanted our experience and expertise welcomed us. BPS took off from there.”
During Bauknight’s nearly three decades with the firm—28 years as managing shareholder—BPS has grown to nearly 60 CPAs and a total team of 80 professionals, placing BPS among the premier public accounting and consulting firms in the Southeast. Just last month, BPS was recognized by global media company Forbes as being among the top recommended tax and accounting firms in America. Of the 227 firms named to the Forbes list, BPS was the only South Carolina firm recognized for both tax and accounting services.
Also in 2019, BPS relocated its corporate offices to a new, 20,000-square-foot space in the TD Bank Building at 1501 Main Street, the business hub of the state capital. The move accommodated the firm’s growth, but also improved work-life balance for the BPS team. “Being on Main Street has made a tremendous difference,” says Bauknight. “Great restaurants, housing, entertainment, workout facilities, the Columbia Museum of Art, and green spaces are right outside our door. If you need a break, you don’t have to go far.”
The 50 honorees of 2019’s Most Influential People will be recognized at an event hosted by Columbia Business Monthly on February 6 at Riverbanks Zoo’s Ndoki Lodge.