How Do You Preserve Valuable Institutional Knowledge?
I.B. Abel has a proud heritage. It started as a small electrical contractor in York, Pennsylvania, and has since grown into a multimillion dollar company.
In the summer of 2012, however, President Patrick Kinsley was concerned. His company was about to enter its centennial year. As an older generation entered retirement without leaving behind a robust documentary record, knowledge of the company’s history slipped away.
Mr. Kinsley knew that it was critical to preserve institutional knowledge and capture the company’s history, but he didn’t know where to turn. His daughter, a student of historic preservation, recommended HAI based on its reputation within her academic circle.
Discovering and Creating a Historical Record
When senior historian Jamie Rife first met with Pat Kinsley and his management team in October 2012, no one was sure how much of a story could be told from the company’s surviving archives: a couple of dusty bankers boxes filled with assorted news clippings and obituaries, accounting ledgers, Depression-era financial statements, and photo albums.
Jamie coaxed a great deal of story out of those sources and supplemented this with additional materials from local repositories and oral histories conducted with both current and retired employees—several of whom had joined the company in the 1950s and 1960s. The oral histories proved to be invaluable. The old-timers provided first-hand information about I.B. Abel’s early management and operations and contributed their own personal photographs and documentary materials to the project. Jamie wove together the story of a company that survived and thrived for 100 years through loyalty to customers and employees, superior service, a tight-knit family atmosphere, and adaptation to economic change.
“HAI did a fine job researching and writing the history of I.B. Abel. They worked with us to smooth out the inevitable bumps that arose, and the resulting book looks great. One of our affiliated companies hired HAI on my recommendation.”
– Patrick Kinsley, President, I.B. Abel
I.B. Abel proudly distributed the resulting 42-page illustrated history book to employees and clients to commemorate their centennial. “HAI did a fine job researching and writing the history of I.B. Abel,” said Mr. Kinsley. “They worked with us to smooth out the inevitable bumps that arose, and the resulting book looks great.” The Kinsley family liked the book so much that HAI also worked with them to produce a history of their general contracting business, Kinsley Construction Incorporated.