How IC System’s Ruth Erickson Defied Her “Place in Society”


As the world transitions and begins to promote the involvement of women in business, many companies are happily finding the value that comes from a diversity of opinion and viewpoints. This lesson, new to some, has been learned by a multitude of companies in the past. One of the companies that was founded by this, is the nationwide collection agency called IC System. Founded primarily by Ruth Erickson, along with her husband Jack, the company has operated and served as a beacon for female empowerment over its eighty-year history. Read on for a look at the many ways in which women have contributed to the company’s long history of success (LinkedIn).




From early on in IC System’s existence, Ruth was critical to its operations. Taking over as company head after her husband’s passing, she worked tirelessly to pour her natural business acumen into the venture. Though small in stature, she was a tenacious and formidable entrepreneur. Those who knew her characterized her as the epitome of toughness in the face of adversity. It was from that toughness that she would build one of the leading accounts receivable companies in the country.

Formed in 1938, and headquartered just outside St. Paul, Minnesota, the company was created with the goal of achieving financial resolutions for both clients and customers alike. From those early days till the present time, the company has been guided by a drive to operate ethically and honestly in all of its dealings. This philosophy is so central to the way the company conducts business, that it was later codified into a list of core values that the company still employs to help guide its actions.


Humble Beginnings


At the start of her work to build IC System into a successful company, Ruth Erickson would go around to local small businesses to personally advertise their services. In those pre-credit card days, many businesses would maintain their own credit accounts for their customers. There was, therefore, a strong need for companies that could help small businesses to resolve outstanding account balances.

For those early accounts, Ruth would act not only as one-person salesforce, but she would also personally work to achieve financial resolutions for their clients. At that time, the primary means of collection was through letter writing, and she could often be found hand typing letters to customers in order to achieve results. When reflecting on those early efforts, those who knew her couldn’t help but be impressed by the number of letters Ruth was able to generate while also attending to her many other duties as well.

Later on, Ruth, always looking to employ technology to her advantage, made a leap that would change the face of her business and give IC System a leg up over its competition. Seeing the growing potential of computers throughout business, she invested in a state of the art system that could generate letters even faster than she could. With this system in place, the company was then equipped to serve the needs of even more clients and contact even more customers on their behalf. It was a pivotal move in the company’s history that showcased the ingenuity and savviness that Ruth brought to everything she did.


Professional Partnerships


With the increased capacity afforded by these innovations came the ability to make much broader partnerships with companies in need of collection services. Ruth realized that if her company could receive the endorsement of professional organizations, she’d once again be able to expand the scope of IC System’s business many times over.

So she began reaching out. Word of her company’s effective and ethical service spread and they were soon endorsed by large and influential professional associations such as the Texas Medical Association and the Massachusetts Dental Society. Eventually, through hard work and persistence, IC System became endorsed by hundreds of professional associations—a legacy that still influences the business’s practices to this day.


Modern Influence


The history of strong female leadership put in place by Ruth Erickson is still on display today at the company she founded. IC System remains a family-run organization and is currently on its third generation of family leadership. Many of those family members are women who have taken to the business’s operations in the same way Ruth did as well. For instance, Barbara Erickson is currently serving as the chairman of the board and brings her views on leadership to numerous aspects of the day to day operations of the company. The majority of the stakeholders in the company are women as well.

There are also many hallmarks of female involvement in the company beyond the Erickson family. Take Michelle Dove, the company’s general counsel and chief compliance officer. IC System has also been recognized by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) as a WBE certified organization. The certification from the WBENC, which is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the US, is just one of the many recognitions IC System receives for its focus on women in the workplace.

As more and more companies work to encourage a strong female component to their own workforce, it’s helpful to look to some of the trailblazers in the area and how the involvement of strong women has built some of the most notable names in the modern economy. With the guiding hand of Ruth Erickson playing such a pivotal role in its development, IC System is clearly a company that has gained much from its reliance on the work put forth by female business professionals. Though the company continues to evolve and work towards providing clients and customers with top of the line service, it also works to maintain its values and recognition as a female-led organization. Through the efforts of the many female employees that contribute to the business today, it is clear that the company will continue to provide a look at just how important it is to create a workplace where all voices are valued and celebrated.

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