As a youngster growing up in suburban Philadelphia, Jeff Berdahl watched as the Flyers won the Stanley Cup in 1974 and 1975. Today, as a shareholder in the accounting firm Regan, Levin, Bloss, Brown & Savchak (RLB), his office sits right across the street from the new home of the Flyers’ International Hockey League affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Naturally, as a fan who played hockey in college and with adult leagues, he is excited to see the Phantoms – hockey’s equivalent of baseball’s AAA franchises – take on the parent team Sept. 27 at the PPL Center.
But as a businessman, he is even more excited to be part of a hat trick that has transformed downtown Allentown into a new financial district for the Valley. RLB joins at least two other related firms – and a variety of other companies – that have moved or expanded downtown over the past year.
Originally located on Pond Road in South Whitehall Township, RLB in August moved into space at 702 Hamilton building on the northeast corner of the intersection at 7th and Hamilton. The 4-year-old firm is already very pleased with its new location and the buzz building in Center City, Berdahl said.
“About a year-and-a-half ago we knew what was happening in Allentown. We thought that coming down here would be good for us and Allentown,” Berdahl said. “So far, we have been very pleased. There is a lot going on. The activity levels for both business and social has really taken off.”
RLB was created in 2010 when the shareholders of four Lehigh Valley accounting firms decided it would help them all to pool their resources and create a larger firm that could compete against the mega-agencies that seemed to be dominating the market on a regional and national scale. It also provided a measure of security and succession planning for the principals, Berdahl said.
The new company employs about 20 to 25 accountants and administrative staff in Allentown, as well as another 10 or so in its Easton and East Stroudsburg offices.
“We definitely see growth here. We see the opportunities,” he said.
The new partnership created an expanded professional depth for the partners and has allowed them to pursue clients in a broad range of industries, such as manufacturing, construction, real estate development, wholesale and most other for-profit industries.
They serve businesses that range from sole proprietorships and small businesses up to enterprise-class companies that boast generations of ownership. The firm also services non-profits.
Clients range from local businesses to companies as far away as Florida. RLB invested heavily in technology to take advantage of the ability to work and transfer information with those clients, but strives to maintain personal relationships with all of its clients.
“We like to pride ourselves on the fact that we bring large-firm resources with a small-firm touch,” Berdahl said. “We work with all sorts of business, all the way up to those that have been around two, three, even four generations.”
RLB specializes in accounting services such as audits and reviews, cash flow and budget analyses, and financial statements as well as typical tax services such as planning and preparation, payroll services and IRS representation. They also provide business consulting, such as valuations and succession planning to employee benefit plans and management advisory services.
Though the partners decided to move to Allentown in part because of the ongoing redevelopment and growth in Center City, they also realized it had collateral benefits.
“This is where we want to be,” Berdahl says. “The good thing about being in downtown Allentown and being progressive is that it also helps with recruitment.”