ICA Celebrates 35 years!

ICA celebrates 35 years

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January 20, 2016 – ICA celebrates its 35th year in the EPS manufacturing business. It is crazy to think about all the things that have happened in the last 35 years. It is now hard to imagine that the greatest and most revolutionary technology we had at the time was a fax machine! Our first IBM machine took up an entire 8 x 12 room! Yes, it was a computer but hard to call it that when you consider the size of it – machine is a more accurate description.

In 1981 news, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as our 40th president, 52 American hostages were released from Iran after 444 days, the Columbia space shuttle launched its 1st mission, gas was $1.25 a gallon, the first test-tube baby was born, the Post-it Note was added to our must-have office supplies, the term “internet” was introduced, MTV television was first aired, Prince Charles and Lady Diana were wed and for the General Hospital fans, Luke and Laura finally tied the knot.

ICA started out in a 30,000 square foot building where we are currently located on Mitchell Ave, Allentown, PA. Throughout the years we have added additions and are currently at our maximum with this piece of real estate, at 69,000 square feet. We have strived to be the best in the industry serving the northeast corridor. To keep our edge in this competitive market, our continuous improvements include installing a Hirsch mold and pre-expander. Hirsch is well known as being a leader in the EPS industry, providing high performing equipment to be more efficient and allowing us to provide consistency and quality EPS to our customers. However, having the best equipment and product does not stand alone.

ICA could not be celebrating 35 successful years in business without our people and our customer service. We pride ourselves on our personal connections with our clients. The longevity of the ICA staff provides years and years of experience, allowing us to share that expertise with our patrons. Daily, we implement our mission and vision to be a leader in the EPS industry, serving our clients with professionalism and delivering quality EPS at the right price. We are so grateful for our staff and thankful for our customers’ continued support. We would not be here without you.

But ICA’s history is more than just the brick and mortar, the equipment, the business and the growth. It is a tale of “old fashioned” success.

Tom Higgins, founder of ICA

Tom Higgins, founder of ICA

It all started with Tom Higgins.

ICA was founded by Thomas Higgins in 1981. Tom had a long history of experience in many areas; however, manufacturing and EPS were not listed among his credentials. He was born in 1931, raised in poor times, educated through the school of hard knocks with a major degree in determined drive to be successful. Prior to ICA, his previous venture was Northern Lehigh Erectors, a successful steel erection company that he started in 1972 after his long career as an ironworker. His progressive thinking led him from steel to foam; and his tenacious personality formed ICA into the prosperous company it is today.

Thirty-five years later, what Tom has accomplished is virtually unattainable in today’s world. Long gone is the world of doing business on a handshake, where your word, being honest and hardworking, was enough to seal the deal. With Tom as leader, the ICA team was formed; and many are still here today, continuing the dedication to follow the simple values set before us.

At times, the leadership could be a bit explosive, and many did not continue the journey with ICA due to Tom’s officer-like qualities. Today, they call his style, “disruptive leadership”, defined as “leadership that inspires (demands) outstanding results”. He is and always has been ahead of his time. Who knew his aggressive style would end up with a name?! Why are we not surprised?

His story is an inspirational, timeless lesson of what can be accomplished through dedication, hard work and intuitiveness. It doesn’t take superhero characteristics to succeed, although it is always good to have a few of those in reserve when times get tough. As Tom has proven, it also doesn’t take a fancy degree to be successful. The strongest asset you have is your character. It is all in the basics. Keep moving forward, learn from your mistakes, be a good mentor for those around you. Be loyal, caring, and accountable for your actions and your success will be made, not found.

As we enter our 35th year and Tom enters his 85th year, he continues to lead and inspire (demand) us all to be the best in the basics.

We are so appreciative for many things. We extend our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to our staff and our customers for all your dedication and support the last 35 years. We look forward to continuing our relationships for many, many years to come.

For this anniversary story, the research included the ICA staff. A selected group was asked to describe Tom in one word. The group ranged from people that have been here 1 year to 35 years. While everyone found it challenging to describe him in one word, not one person duplicated a description. The words in bold in the paragraphs above are the responses to my request.


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This article was posted on January 19, 2016, by Insulation Corporation of America (ICA) – a Women-Owned manufacturer of Geofoam and Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), which is commonly but mistakenly referred to as Styrofoam™. ICA is located in Allentown, PA and services the entire Mid-Atlantic Region from Virginia to Maine to Ohio.