1900s: Reilly, Penner & Benton was founded in 1907 by John Reilly, Carl Penner, and Clarence Benton along with Clarence’s brother, Edward. The office was located on the northwest corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Water Street.
1960s: The firm then moved to the northwest corner of Broadway and Michigan Streets. The accountants sat in one large room with metal desks, and the clerical area was separated by a wall. Needless to say, technology was primitive compared to today: reports were typed on a typewriter, and if there were six copies or less they were typed using carbon paper. Any corrections had to be made to all copies separately. Reports over six copies were typed on thin cardboard and run on a small printing press using goopy ink. There was one “Xerox” copier that was used sparingly because it was expensive to make copies and upkeep was delicate.
1970s: Michael Penner, the grandson of Carl Penner, was made a partner in the early ’70s. Richard Raymaker was not far behind. In the 70s-90s the main clients were manufacturing, colleges, non-profits.
1980s: Steven Barney and Steven Volz became partners in the 80s. By this time, technology had obviously improved. The first computer was purchased in the early ’80s and was kept in the library and shared. The first fax machine was also obtained in the late ’80s – it required thermal paper that faded over time.
1990s: In 1990 Dan Brophey, Mike Van Wagenen, and Tom Wieland became partners. The office was also remodeled. Word processors were being used for the preparation of reports and a tax service was used for inputting data from the office and having tax returns printed and delivered to the office. Computers were becoming more prevalent, although the first “portable” computers were still bulky, heavy and had orange screens. The late ’90s saw the option for School Choice, school districts, employee benefit plans and more non-profits.
2000s: Dave Grotkin became a partner in the early 2000s in anticipation of Mike Penner’s retirement. In 2007, there was a major event. After 100 years in downtown Milwaukee, RPB moved to the Mayfair area (where it remains today) and Katie Reilly, the great-granddaughter of the founder John Reilly, accepted an award from the Milwaukee County Historical Society for being in business for 100 years. The certificate is framed and proudly displayed in our Milwaukee office. In 2008, RPB acquired two offices in the Madison area. This added 16 more people and RPB continued to expand with client acquisitions from the Sun Prairie and Stoughton areas. The Milwaukee office was also growing quickly. In 2009, the next batch of partners came on board in anticipation of the retirement of Richard Raymaker, Steve Barney, Dan Brophey and Steve Volz. Carrie Gindt, Pat Hoffert, Joel Joyce and Brian Mechenich were all promoted to Partner.
2010s: Jason Wrasse became a partner in 2013, Josh Bierbach in 2016, and Vicki Buening and Brad Voght in 2017. RPB continues to grow and has almost reached capacity at the current office. Now everyone has a laptop or computer, multiple screens, and scanners as the office works toward a more paperless, green environment.