As a young man Jim Risk was always involved in the activities of the family’s Lafayette-based electrical company, founded in 1926 by his father, J. Kirby Risk, in an abandoned blacksmith shop.
“During my school years I worked summers at the family business. Following college I began my career at the sales counter and after a few years moved to outside sales. In 1966 I became Vice President of Sales and President in 1972,” says Jim Risk, President and CEO of Kirby Risk Corporation.
Risk had a bold vision for growth. The company first expanded to Columbus, Indiana, in 1972, followed by new locations in Crawfordsville and Danville, Illinois. New business openings and acquisitions continued.
Today Kirby Risk Corporation is an electrical supply and manufacturing conglomerate comprised of five operating companies with more than 40 locations in the tri-state area of Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. In 2012 revenues are expected to exceed $400 million.
The company has grown and prospered based on the solid foundation established by his late father and mother. According to Risk, his parents “left us a legacy of valuing others and having a sincere concern for your fellow man.”
The Kirby Risk Corporation goes about their business quietly, working for the long term and staying involved in community affairs.
“It is important to give back to our local communities,” Risk says. “Our people are encouraged to devote leadership, time and resources.”
Kirby Risk’s greatest asset is its team of capable and caring employees who have earned a reputation for industry leadership. They make responsive customer service their top priority.
“We want to be the employer of choice for our people and the supplier of choice for our customers,” Risk says.
Risk also believes in using the most current technology available.
“Kirby Risk has always worked to stay current with technology. Using technology wisely creates a competitive advantage,” he says. “Effectively integrating emerging technology into our operations has allowed us to maintain a strategic advantage in the marketplace.”
According to Risk, as leaders “we should not preserve the practices of the past. Our job is to initiate change, to be agile and, when possible, to accelerate change. The company that moves from concept to reality faster than the competition is always the winner.”
Kirby Risk Corporation is well positioned for the future.
Before becoming president, part of Risk’s training came through community involvement. He was president of the local Chamber of Commerce at the youthful age of 29 and president of the local United Way at the age of 30.
The company is a proud supporter of the United Way, and Risk has served in many capacities, including both President and Campaign Chair. He was on the founding board of the local Community Foundation and served as Chairman of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. Risk has been active in economic development activities and a host of Purdue University campaigns and boards, as well.
“It is rewarding to be involved with community service, and I have learned there is great satisfaction in serving others,” Risk says. “In reflecting on life’s fondest memories, they often are a result of the times you brightened the lives of others.”
In giving back, the Risk family has been active with Junior Achievement since his father championed bringing JA to the Lafayette community. Risk himself was an Achiever in high school, and later served as an advisor and has been on the local JA Board for many years. Today, the Kirby Risk Corporation and Risk continue to promote JA through volunteer support and fund-raising activities. For more than 40 years, the company hosted an annual JA cook-out that fostered broad community support.
“I’ve been an enthusiastic cheerleader for Junior Achievement for more than 50 years. It is important to prepare young people to succeed in the global economy,” Risk says. “We need to ensure that young people understand our free enterprise system and are informed on personal finances.”