D.A. Davidson is the oldest financial services firm in Montana, dating back to 1935, when David Adams Davidson opened a branch of E.J. Gibson in Great Falls. Davidson later bought majority stock of E.J. Gibson and moved the company’s headquarters to Great Falls. In 1958, Davidson’s son, Ian, joined as the third employee, at which time the firm’s name was changed to its modern moniker.
From those small, family-operated Montana roots, the company has since grown into the multi-faceted D.A. Davidson Companies, which has 1,400 employees across 98 offices in 26 states. Among its four subsidiaries is D.A. Davidson & Co., which is the largest full-service investment firm headquartered in the Northwest, providing services in wealth management, equity capital and fixed income markets, and investment banking.
Even with its $54 billion in managed assets and far-reaching national footprint, with corporate offices in Denver, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle, D.A. Davidson Companies remains employee-owned and headquartered in Great Falls.
The Kalispell D.A. Davidson & Co. branch celebrated its 45-year anniversary last year, an observance that coincided with another milestone: moving into a new facility. In October, the branch relocated from downtown Kalispell, where it had been since opening in August 1974, including in the K.M. Building since 1984, to a larger and better-equipped building near Glacier High School.
One of the many benefits of the new digs is no longer using converted closets as offices, and generally having more space. Other advantages include superior technology, expanded videoconferencing opportunities and better parking, which allows for expanded one-on-one consultations with clients.
“We were downtown a long time, and we enjoyed being in the KM Building since the 80s, but there was no place for us to really go that would meet our needs in downtown,” Kalispell branch manager Terry Judd said. “We love it here.”
The Kalispell branch has more than 20 employees, while there are also four in Whitefish. A number of employees have been with the branch for two or three decades, including Judd, who has worked there for 30 years. Five corporate employees have also relocated to the Flathead Valley.
“We have really focused on the culture of our firm over the years and tried to hire really good people,” Judd said. “So hiring the right people is big, and so is employee ownership. Everyone becomes an owner from top to bottom, and we treat our employees very well. We have very low turnover.”
While the bulk of D.A. Davidson & Co.’s business is working with individual investors, the firm also provides services such as managing portfolios for nonprofits and financing for entities such as municipalities, hospitals, airports and schools. Judd said in addition to quality employees and a client-centered culture, other factors contributing to the firm’s staying power is a conservative business model and robust finances.
Moreover, Judd said the company is firmly rooted in the community, contributing to a number of local causes and living side by side with its clients.
“We live here and work here,” Judd said. “We see clients in the grocery stores, out skiing, and we’re active in various causes. We’re part of the community.”