Burr Ridge businessman: Reputation is everything
Integrated Project Management President and Chief Executive Officer Rich Panico is shown in his office in Burr Ridge. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 13, 2012 10:52AM
BURR RIDGE — Rich Panico readily admits he has many obsessions.
There is the 1934 Ford hot rod he is building in his garage that he shows photos of as proudly as a new dad. There is the passion for motorcycles, loving to go on weekend rides. The former body builder remains avid about fitness and lifting weights. He loves to write and is so adamant about proper writing and sending the right message that he had all 107 of his employees — 14 of whom have Ph. Ds – take a 16-week writing course.
But the biggest obsession for the founder and president of Integrated Product Management is his reputation.
“Reputation and personal trust, it is everything,” Panico said.
Panico has used that reputation and personal trust gained from 24 years at the company’s helm to build a project management consulting firm with a clientele list that includes BP, Mars/Wrigley, Baxter, Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, and Pepsi
“I am obsessed with creating an extraordinary (workplace) culture,” Panico said. “I find outstanding performers who share my values.”
Panico said he got the importance of reputation from his father, a printer by trade who stressed education and being a person of honor.
“You don’t just decide at 40 years old to work on your reputation,” Panico said. “I have always thought about when I leave this earth what I want my reputation to be.
He said it is know throughout the company that if you are caught in a lie just one time, you are fired.
After a successful 15-year career with Johnson & Johnson and being a co-creator of the Midwest Fitness Centers, Panico decided to start Integrated Product Management, providing solutions to businesses’ problems, and doing it with honesty and integrity.
“I don’t deal with the title,” he said of his work with other companies. “I deal with the person behind the suit. If you need the title to hide behind, you are nota person I am going to build a long-term relationship with.”
Although his company’s job is to find solutions for businesses, those solutions don’t include cutting personnel. Panico said that it short-sighted and only looking to meet a quarterly financial report.
Despite the recession, Integrated Product has continue to grow, Panico said.
In 2011, Panico was inducted into the University of Illinois – Chicago’s Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. For seven years, Panico served as chairman of Chicago’s DePaul University Institute for Business and Professional Ethics and continues to be a member of its board of directors.
Panico said he has gotten offers for his company, but he has turned everyone of them down. Why? Because he told his employees he would never sell the business.
“I don’t sell people out. That is not something I could live with. That is not in my heart,” he said.