Article Published: January 17, 2017
Article Published: January 17, 2017
What do you do if you’re a working woman trying to find work-life balance, raise your children, care for an ailing family member, need to work from home to fulfill your responsibilities, and your employer refuses to let you work from home? You become an entrepreneur, launch a woman-owned business enterprise, fulfill your responsibilities, and find the work-life balance you desire.
That’s what Barbara VanKirk did with her struggle 22 years ago, when she launched IQ Inc. Since then, IQ Inc. has provided software engineering services to clients across many industries including manufacturing, transportation, energy, healthcare, and finance. Today, the company employs 46 SW architects, SW engineers, QA engineers, systems engineers, technical writers, and technicians.
But the company’s growth in the last 12 years has primarily come by partnering with manufacturers of medical devices. IQ Inc. has developed software solutions for such devices that ultimately help individuals in need of eye, respiratory, cardiac, and surgical care, and a host of other medical needs.
What’s supported IQ Inc. thus far has been its six core values – the vision of the company as one team, commitment to the success of its clients, caring , communicating honestly, pursuing excellence, and dedication to working hard and solving problems and having fun in the process.
What’s important,” says VanKirk, “is that each client we partner with enables us to retain our allegiance to these core values. Otherwise the partnership doesn’t work for us.”
Along the way, VanKirk has garnered her and her company’s share of awards, including one of Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business by the governor in 2003, and an Enterprising Women of the Year Award winner in 2008. IQ Inc. was named the 2009 Pittsburgh Business Ethics Award (small business category) by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals and the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership at the University of Pittsburgh. IQ was also honored as The Western Pennsylvania Woman-Owned Business of the Year in 2011.
What’s next for VanKirk and IQ Inc.? Sustained growth, finding new markets to serve, and moving the company to new headquarters. “We’ve been the silent, golden nugget of Western Pennsylvania for too long. It’s time for us to find a new voice,” she said.
“In 2015,” she added, “we set forth a 5-year strategic plan to double our revenue and the number of our employees. We’re now in the second year of this plan and doing very well at 52% growth.”
To their credit, VanKirk and her second in command, Amy Peterson, Vice President of Projects and Services, know that growing revenues and finding new markets to serve for IQ Inc. will succeed only with the buy in by everyone in the company.
“For this to work, Barbara and I remain financially transparent with our employees,” said Peterson.
And they’ve involved all employees in leadership training led by John Stahl-Wert, co-author of The Serving Leader.
We want to make sure that our employees expand their leadership talents, know the cornerstones of the Serving Leadership approach, and can identify practical ways these cornerstones fit into the our company culture and workplace,” said VanKirk.
Speaking of practicality, IQ Inc. now needs additional space as it grows its staff beyond the current complement of 46 SW architects, SW engineers, QA engineers, systems engineers, technical writers, and technicians. To accommodate additional employees, in February 2017, VanKirk will move the company to new headquarters larger than 7,000 square feet in Monroeville, PA.