As HBK Grows, Firm Invests in Its People

By David J. Blasko
CPA, Principal-in-Charge of Northeast Ohio Region; Chair, HBK Executive Committee

CANFIELD – Over the past couple of years, HBK CPAs & Consultants has adjusted to the environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Operationally, that has led us to a new normal, a hybrid work environment including both in-office and remote work.

Years ago, the firm invested in cloud-computing, then cloud-based teleconferencing, which has made working remotely possible. We are using videoconferencing extensively as a means of internal practice management and to bring together our professionals from across our entire firm network to develop relevant, multidisciplinary solutions for our clients.

Since our founding in Youngstown in 1949, we have grown to a Top 50 accounting firm with more than 600 employees and offices in six states. Part of this growth has come from adding complementary services to address burgeoning client needs.

In 2022, we expanded the services of a late 2021 merger with Vertilocity, a managed information technology service provider that supports client companies with its digital transformation.

Our Vertilocity team has experience in organizational workflows, systems and software, and providing a vast array of relevant technological support to our clients. This includes proactive managed IT support, advanced threat protection, Office 365 management and support, technological tools and software designed to address an organization’s specific processes and hardware procurement and installation.

Last year was one of significant growth for our HBK Solutions infrastructure. Client service teams with deep, industry-specific expertise deliver advisory services to help businesses overcome operational challenges, improve their competitiveness and increase their revenues. We field Solutions teams for multiple industries, including construction, manufacturing, health care, automobile and equipment dealerships, nonprofits and for the emerging cannabis industry.

We continued to enhance our services beyond tax compliance. Among these are business consulting, transactional advisory, risk advisory, business valuations, succession and estate planning and qualified retirement plan services.

We are making substantial investments in our people, intangibly as well as tangibly. Given our growth, we must ensure our team members understand their roles in terms of our brand’s purpose to support owner-operator-entrepreneurs with the financial management aspects of their businesses.

We need our professionals to think creatively and entrepreneurially. We want our young professionals to understand their growth-path opportunities into the firm’s diversified service lines and offices in other markets. And leadership must sustain our firm’s cultural values, which is a challenge for rapidly growing, decentralized professional services firms.

We have also invested in a talent acquisition specialist for sourcing, attracting and interviewing prospective employees to find the best matches for our firm’s strategic objectives. And we are finalizing the implementation of a customer relationship management platform that will enable us to communicate and collaborate more effectively, enhance the client experience and improve the overall quality of our client-service solutions.

Community engagement through our HBK Cares initiative is a key aspect of our company culture. Our Youngstown team is always active in supporting community causes, both financially and as volunteers. This past year, one of our principals, Jim Dascenzo, and his wife, Christina, co-chaired the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball. HBK served as a corporate sponsor. We also donated a cabin for Gabba Camp, a camp for adults with disabilities.