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Strategem History runs deep through the streets of Bendigo.

Three firms and 82 years of history have laid the foundations for the local financial services company known as Strategem. Strategem today is a Bendigo and Melbourne CBD based firm offering accounting, business advisory and wealth management services, however its humble beginnings were forged during the Depression.

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Bill Ashman with CEO David Richardson on View Street outside the premises where Strategem was founded.

L-R Front Row: Garry Chambers, Stuart McKenzie, Sharon Gleeson, Bill Ashman, Bruce Ralph, Brett Marchant & Trevor Elliott. Back Row: Justin Gordon, Peter Murphy, Adam Middlemis, Kevin Martin & David Richardson.

Strategem began in 1932 at 35 View Street Bendigo as W.A. (Bill) Draper (the same year the Sydney Harbor Bridge was opened). As a Chartered Accountant, Mr Draper was the forefather of the modern day Strategem. He was Manager of the Sandhurst Building Society, of which the Board allowed Mr Draper to run his own accounting business out of the same premises. (J's Music now occupies these premises).     Mr Draper employed Charles William (Bill) Ashman as a 16 year old in 1944, who later qualified as a Chartered Accountant and took over Mr Draper's practice upon his passing in 1955.

Earnest Frederick Granger was the 54th Mayor of Bendigo in 1948-49, but from circa 1940 to 1968 he was a Chartered Accountant operating out of Broadcast House, View Point, Bendigo (now known as the Aussie Disposals building). Mr Granger employed Frank E. Iredale during the 50's who subsequently took over Mr Granger's practice upon his passing in 1968. 
On 27th July 1970, Bill Ashman and Frank Iredale merged their practices to form Ashman & Iredale and set up new premises on the corner of Queen and Edwards Streets, Bendigo. Ashman & Iredale eventually included other Partners Rob Court and Trevor Crockford.

Circa 1955, Ron Every and David King started out operating as Accountants at 47 Bull Street, Bendigo.

In 1964, an experienced local Accountant, Kenneth Bruce Ralph joined them to become Every King & Co.

David King and Bruce Ralph continued in partnership for 20 years, with Bruce building up the Sharebroking part of the business.


On 1st July 1984, Ashman Iredale Court & Crockford merged with Bruce Ralph's part of Every King & Co to form Ashman Ralph & Associates. This new venture, which included Peter Smith as a Partner and incorporated John Ledwidge and his growing practice, was to lay the foundation of the modern day Strategem. As the firm had approximately 15 staff by 1985, it had outgrown its premises at 72 Queen Street and renovated the current building at 37 Mundy Street, Bendigo, formally known as the Criterion Hotel, which later served as the Bendigo Motor Wreckers.             

 

Ashman Ralph & Associates continued to grow through the 80's & 90's through various successions with other Partners Travis Reid, Andrew Snowdon and Michael McCartney. Around 1999, Sharon Gleeson, Peter Murphy, Trevor Elliott and Garry Chambers were appointed to Partnership, followed a few years later by Chris Harrington, Andrew Davies, Kevin Martin and Stuart McKenzie.

 

In 2001 the Partners made their first steps towards corporatizing the firm and Strategem was introduced into the company name. In 2007 the company moved to full corporatization which included the introduction of a Chief Executive Officer (David Richardson) and in 2011, expanded its operations by opening up a branch office in the CBD of Melbourne.

Strategem won Bendigo Business Excellence Awards 'Business of the Year' in 2008 and now has over 65 well trained staff offering a range of professional services to our broad client base.

Strategem continues to be a locally owned and operated firm which has strong connections to its community through the Strategem Community Foundation, which was formed in 2009.

The Strategem Board was pleased to announce the appointment of its latest Director and Partner, Justin Gordon on 1st July 2014. As a Senior Associate leading the Audit area and 17 years of dedicated service, Justin joins Garry Chambers, Trevor Elliott, Chris Harrington, Stuart McKenzie, Kevin Martin and Peter Murphy as current members of the Strategem Board. Ashley Hill, Matthew Collins, Adam Middlemis and Brett Marchant are current Associates of Strategem.            

The appointment of Justin coincided with the 30th Anniversary of the establishment of Ashman Ralph & Associates on 1st July 1984, a pivotal merger which laid the early groundwork for the success of the current Strategem.

 

There are thousands of side stories to Strategem's history, at its core though, is a firm that has supported the Bendigo and surrounding community for over 80 years.

Thank you to Bill Ashman, Bruce Ralph, John Ledwidge, descendants of the Draper and Granger Families and the Bendigo Historical Society for helping Strategem re-discover its rich history.

 

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Bruce Ralph and Bill Ashman commemorating 30 years since Ashman Ralph & Associates started. Bill Ashman and Bruce Ralph outside the original corner entrance to the current premises. In 1985 they transformed the Bendigo Motor Wreckers site into the new home for Ashman Ralph & Associates.