This article was in "The Texas Hill Country" magazine, date unknown.....
LEADING GENERATIONS-PAST AND FUTURE-IN
BUSINESS, FAMILY AND PHILANTHROPY
BY JUDITH PANNEBAKER
For Phyllis Ricks, family is everything. As the vice president of Ricks Furniture Company in Kerrville, she has worked in the family business for 37 years.
“My parents’ first store was in downtown Del Rio. And after school, my brothers and I would head there,” she recalled. “The store became kind of a babysitter for us.” Through the years, Ricks became the second of three generations associated with businesses in Kerrville, Del Rio and Eagle Pass.
Ricks’ son, John Skrumeda, serves as store manager in Kerrville and a nephew assists with the stores in southern Texas. “My entire business experience has been with our family’s furniture stores,” Ricks said. “While still in high school, I did administrative work while my brothers drove delivery trucks. They went into the family business full-time right out of high school.”
Hard work runs in the family’s genes. After her children were in school, Ricks’ mother, Leota, returned to work with her husband, Philip. “She worked from 1958 until 2013. She passed a couple of years ago when she was almost 90,” Ricks said.
When the Ricks moved to Kerrville in 1980, Philip Ricks promised to “show (his daughter) the ropes,” and pass on his managerial skills. That tutorial ended when he died just three short years later.”His death made a big difference in my life,” Ricks recalled. “He was so wonderful”. Her father’s untimely death at the age of 60 affects her still.
Recalling a salient piece of his advice, Ricks said, ”My father always told me to tell the truth because then you don’t have to remember what you’ve said to everyone. His sage advice might have contributed to Ricks “no-nonsense” persona. "If I have something to say, I say it, and then everyone can move forward," she said. “I hate to beat around the bush. It serves no purpose.”
According to Ricks, employee motivation is another important managerial technique. “Remember. When dealing with a customer, they are representing you.” she said, adding. “I am very pleased with our crew.”
After acknowledging things have changed for women in the business world, Ricks also recalled “When I moved here as a store manager in 1980, at times it was difficult for the public to accept a woman as an employer.” I would spend time talking to customers and when the was almost complete, they would point to a salesman and say ‘We’d like to talk to him.’ continued Ricks.” and that was in 1980, which seems like yesterday. Young women of today don’t realize how it was for women in the business world just 30 years ago.”
Ricks also referenced her tenure with the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce that will celebrate its 95th birthday this year. “I was president of the chamber for its 75th anniversary,” she said. “At that time there had only been three women serving as president.” Happily, since then, women have served in that capacity “about every other term”, Ricks said. She added, “And for that, I congratulate the chamber.”
Her advice to women in business is ”put family first,” noting, “You can have it all—family, career, personal life—but if family doesn’t come first, nothing will work. It will still be difficult, but not nearly as hard as it once was.”
After describing her business as being in the “business” of helping families furnish homes, Ricks noted introspectively,” Of course, you need a home to have a family, but not everyone has a home—or even a family—and that’s a problem. To rectify that issue, Ricks has combined her business career with her avocation, serving as president of the board of directors for Hill Country Crisis Council.
HCCC components include FamilyCARES, which provides emergency service to victims of abuse and family violence; Kids Advocacy Place, a child-friendly for investigation intervention and treatment in child abuse cases; and KidCARES, which provides prevention programs in area schools and training for faculty and staff.
“Domestic and child abuse, and sexual assault are rarely talked about, but we want to get the word out that free help is available,” Ricks said. “There is never a charge. Through the crisis council, all services to the victims and their children is free of charge.”
She said ,”I’m very gratified to make a difference in the community.” Always recruiting for the crisis council, Ricks said, “We always need volunteers. For more information, just call 257-2400