Rita Kress

Owner, Kress Corporation
Photography by Kira Kwon

After departing academia, I embarked on a career in advertising and managed a local agency. During that time, I met my husband, and, after we married, I joined him in his existing manufacturing business, where I still remain in combined efforts with our son, Nathan. Although full-time-plus at Kress Corporation, I have been diverse in my entrepreneurial enterprises and partake in numerous challenges with community and non-for-profit efforts.

Please reflect upon your major accomplishments of 2012.
Kress Corporation has made great strides in improving business efficiencies, procedures and cost containments. In a constantly changing global economy, Kress has attained stability in production and effective cash-flow procedures. Though very difficult, Kress Corporation has regulated and maintained an effective, valued workforce. After years of operation, numerous long-term corporate goals and milestones were reached during 2012, with the participation and cooperation of the entire Kress workforce.

How has your organization adjusted to changes in the business climate over the last several years?
Because Kress would be termed a small-manufacturing, highly customized business, we address changes and needs factually and quickly. Potential weaknesses and problem areas are pinpointed and appropriate action initiated while continuing to improve and maintain the commitment to product design, quality and customer service.

What is your secret to maintaining a balance between work and personal life?
I am particularly keen on the ability to multitask in all areas. An individual or business must be able to face good and bad issues in many areas, often at the same time. In doing so, a balance is created that is comprised of some good issues and some bad issues, but never all bad or all good. I have always tried to address any issues before me, make a decision and move forward. I do not “stew” or “fret” over issues. Once I make the best decision I can based on fact, timing and circumstances, I progress to the next matter, be it good or bad.

My balance is tipped when I encounter a source that delays a decision or goal from being accomplished. My normal reaction in such instances is to remove or replace that particular source.

What is your leadership philosophy?
Leadership to me is expressed by example, experience and endurance.

Did you have a mentor in the early stages of your career?
Not necessarily one in particular—often times, for me, experience has been the best teacher. Experience can be shared through knowledgeable people, and I have had the pleasure and benefit to work and collaborate with numerous outstanding individuals and business associates.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
For me, the two best pieces of advice, which were given to me at an early age, were:

  1. Always do right, and;
  2. Never spend more than you have.

What advice would you give to a young, up-and-coming female professional?
I would advise her to know her personal strengths and use them, to always expand her knowledge and experience, and to positively meet every opportunity no matter how the opportunity may seem.

In your opinion, is there still a glass ceiling for women in 2012?
As far as a glass ceiling affecting women in 2012, I believe that individuals limit themselves. As long as opportunities exist and individuals apply their talents and capabilities, there are no ceilings. Risk and challenge are two of my favorite words. I welcome a new opportunity that requires being met with all my assets in order to turn that opportunity into a potential accomplishment or success. I have never been accepting of any type of limitation.

What is one goal you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
If I had one goal I hope to accomplish in my lifetime, it would be to make a lasting difference for the betterment of all who follow, be it in business, community involvement or charitable participation. I am especially keen on large projects that add substance to quality of life and contribute to a strong foundation for the future of all. Each of us is given a productive timeframe to reach our potential, and part of that potential should be directed to sharing our best efforts for the betterment of others—now and for the future.

If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be? Why?
I would choose Abraham Lincoln because of his ability to do right and his common-sense approach to great leadership in addressing the most difficult of issues. I think his sincerity and humility as a human being and his accomplishments for the betterment of all posterity have spoken of his greatness throughout the ages.

Is there anything you would like to add?
I would like to add that I am grateful to the area and the people who have afforded the Kress family an unending variety of opportunities and helpful cooperation to materialize so many worthwhile efforts.

What three words would you use to describe yourself?
Hard-working, focused and committed.

How do you unwind after a long day of work?
I enjoy a fast ride on a fast horse.

What is your greatest fear?
Loss of independence.

What is your favorite movie?
Out of Africa—it’s a great story.

What is your favorite song?
“The Green Leaves of Summer.”

What is your favorite restaurant?
It was Charlie Trotter’s; now it is Alinea.

Who is your favorite artist?
Caravaggio.

What is your favorite hobby?
Polo.

What is your favorite musical group?
 Fleetwood Mac. iBi

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