As the world becomes increasingly more interconnected, the personal connection in business has become paradoxically more difficult to find. Though we are now in a place where we can find businesses with a simple internet search, we may never physically meet the people with whom we conduct business. The companies themselves feel this just as equally, many of which are subscribing to a digital age in which the people who work for them have little connection to their history or philosophy.
However, some companies still hold steadfast to some of the tried and true methods that have brought them to success. IC Systems is just such a company. By taking a look at its adherence to its long-held values and family-run practices, we can learn just how such a philosophy can power a leader in its field today.
IC Systems has been a family-run operation since it was founded eighty years ago by Ruth and Jack Erickson. Headquartered outside of St. Paul, Minnesota, it has long focused on a central grouping of beliefs that complement an emphasis on family. To these ends, the company makes sure to treat everyone ethically and honestly, so that it can help clients and consumers alike reach financial resolutions. This focus has evolved over the years into a statement of core values that still guides the company’s actions. Now on its third generation of family leadership, the company is constantly reaffirming its commitment to the tenets that have contributed to its success.
One thing that is central to the idea of family is respect for those who have come before you. In the case of the company’s founders, this respect is evident whenever the topic is brought up. After the passing of her husband in 1952, Ruth Erickson would show herself more than up to the task of carrying on the work of running the company. In early efforts toward success, she worked in sales, making personal visits to businesses who may have needed her services. Through this determined approach, she was able to build a client base that would form the foundation of the company’s operations (Indeed).
Ruth, it would turn out, was a woman of many talents. Along with her ability to make sales calls and bring in new clients, she was also skilled in administering to the day to day activities of the company. She could often be found hand typing letters to personally aid collection efforts.
Though she had many responsibilities in her role as a founder, those around her were constantly impressed with the amount of work she was able to accomplish when engaging in these types of ground-level activities. It was her experience in this side of the business which helped inform her opinion when she invested in a computer system for the company that allowed it to produce many more correspondences than a single person could produce alone. The legacy of staying on the cutting edge of technology is a hallmark of the company to this day.
With many members of the Erickson family currently in positions of leadership throughout IC Systems, it is clear that Ruth’s early influence has had a lingering effect. An example of this is Barbara Erickson, who holds the position of chairman at IC Systems and is very involved with many of the business’s daily activities. Additionally, John Erickson is the company’s president and still cites Ruth’s tenacity and dedication as a driver for his own passion and commitment.
Though the company is proud of its family-based legacy and heritage, it is also cognizant of the need to keep a diverse workforce that is made up of people from both inside and outside the Erickson family. In fact, John Erickson himself has been quick to emphasize the importance of open hiring practices for the company.
“We want to give everyone the opportunity to advance and not feel, ‘Oh, great, there’s an Erickson I’m competing with for this job and I’ll never get it,’” says John. “I think that can be somewhat demoralizing.”
Erickson also understands that it’s important for family members to fully understand the business before they are considered for upper-level positions in its operations. As with any other high-level executive or manager, all efforts are made to have family members work in a variety of different positions and departments throughout their time with the company. In this way, they can better understand the varying sides of the business and how its many parts work together to achieve their common goal.
Women in Power
Beyond just the connection to the rest of her family, Ruth Erickson also set a special standard for the company owing to her ability to show the value of women in power. Through the many decades of her ownership, the company has constantly benefitted from her ability to innovate on a level unrivaled by her counterparts at other firms. By having the diversity of viewpoint that comes with employing women at upper levels, IC Systems has been able to continue the legacy that Ruth started all those years ago. Currently, along with chairman Barbara Erickson, Michelle Dove serves as the company’s chief compliance officer, and ownership of the company is majority female.
Though we have reached an age in the world of business that can sometimes lean towards the impersonal, there are still some companies that work hard to emphasize the personal connections they have built. With a belief in the power of family to create something larger than its individual parts, IC Systems stands as a modern testament to what can be done when people work together. Along with this principle of togetherness comes a deep belief in female empowerment as well as a focus on ethical and honest conduct in all business practices. For those who may feel a bit out of touch with the way many other companies have opted to do business in recent years, the above values are certainly a breath of fresh air.
More about IC Systems at https://www.glassdoor.com/Overview/Working-at-I-C-System-EI_IE32267.11,21.htm