Historic companies celebrate enduring business relationship

Andrew Taylor, MD of John B Smith, right, with Jed Lester from Baines Jewitt Accountants. Picture by Tom Banks
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Two of Stockton’s oldest firms are raising the roof to a working relationship spanning more than 70 years.

Baines Jewitt Chartered Accountants and John B Smith first started working together in the 1940s, although their company stories can be traced back to the turn of the century and beyond.

As one of the largest firms of chartered accountants, business advisers and tax experts in Teesside, Baines Jewitt in its current form took shape in 2004, following the merger of two firms with long and proud histories: Baines Goldston, which began in 1923, and Jewitts, which started in 1907.

The origins of John B Smith – specialists in the design and manufacture of roof trusses and floor joists – can be traced back to 1832, when merchant John Stagg took advantage of the Stockton to Darlington railway and built a wharf with timber mill at the end of the train track.

Back then, raw materials would arrive by river, before being cut and shipped to customers via rail.

Baines Jewitt director Jed Lester explains: “As a relative newcomer, I have looked after John B Smith’s company accounts and tax affairs for over 30 years. My predecessor, who was the father of one of my fellow directors, managed their accounts for 40 years prior to me. Over that time there have been significant changes within both companies.”

Andrew Taylor, MD of John B Smith, right, with Jed Lester from Baines Jewitt Accountants.
Picture by Tom Banks

Today, Baines Jewitt employs more than 30 professionals and is led by five directors. The business was incorporated in July 2017 to become Baines Jewitt Limited.

As well as offering financial advice to individuals, families and charities, Baines Jewitt has helped to get hundreds of business ventures off the ground and provided the support needed to enable them to grow into some of Teesside’s most successful firms. In many cases, such as John B Smith, Baines Jewitt has worked with several generations of the same family.

For John B Smith, technological advances and computer aided design software have led to greater efficiencies and a demand for precision cut products.

Embracing new techniques has enabled the company to design, manufacture and deliver much more complex ready-to-install timber roof and floor structures.

Over the years, the business has proved to be extremely resilient to the changes it has faced, with a high demand from many of the country’s large name housebuilding and construction companies.

John B Smith chairman Mike Scaife – the fourth generation of his family to be involved in the company – explains: “Our products and expertise have evolved from our proud 188-year history, which has included my greatgrandfather, grandfather, father and myself at the helm.”

The production lines at John B Smith in Stockton.
Picture by Tom Banks

“Thanks to our skilled team and state-of-the-art machinery, we can provide a bespoke service and more creative designs. However, we also understand there is much more to running a business than great products and a great reputation.

“We have an excellent managing director, Andrew Taylor, at the helm and a superb workforce in place. With Jed and the Baines Jewitt team to act as an external sounding board, keep a close eye on the figures, suggest improvements and help us steer through any turbulent times, there has been a huge impact on the stability of our company and our balance sheet.”

Jed adds: “With the longevity of Baines Jewitt’s relationship with John B Smith comes a sense of responsibility, empathy and pride in what has been achieved. Not only do we have a very good understanding of what is important to such a principal client, but we are on hand to share the joy of economic booms, plus offer strategic advice and support during leaner periods.

“What started all those years ago as an agreement to provide business, tax and accounting advice, has seen the relationship between our two companies flourish. In particular, I feel incredibly lucky to work with such a forward-thinking company. Not only are Mike and Andrew inspirational business leaders and work associates, but our companies have become firm friends.”

For more information about Baines Jewitt contact Jed Lester on jl@bainesjewitt.co.uk.

For further information about John B Smith Ltd, please contact michael.scaife@johnbsmith.co.uk or andrew.taylor@johnbsmith.co.uk.