Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Franken Board Room

“Great leaders have a heart for people. They take time for people. They view people as the bottom line, not as a tool to get to the bottom line.” – Pat Williams

Franken Leaves a Legacy

While many of Interstates’ conference rooms are named after famous world and national leaders, the inspiration for the Franken Board Room hits close to home. Named in honor of our founder John A. Franken and his son, Jim, the Franken Board Room stands as a reminder of legacy and the potential impact we can leave on our way.

Jim Franken’s father may have started the company, but Jim didn’t take his position for granted. He started at Interstates in the 1970’s, working in various roles from purchasing to estimating and project delivery. Later, focusing more on business development, Jim led the company into its first international project in Egypt. As CEO, he paved the way for growth and forward momentum. In 2001, Jim died suddenly of heart complications. His loss was felt deeply in the company and in the community, but his legacy remains. His passion for providing visionary servant leadership continues on at Interstates.

Servant Leadership

Jim Franken had a knack for seeing the potential in people and drawing it out. He is credited with developing Interstates’ servant leadership model, and I am a beneficiary of his legacy. I knew Jim as a man who loved his family and was a wise leader. When I was a senior in high school, I asked Jim if I would ever have an opportunity to work at Interstates. I didn’t know much about the company, but I knew that if Jim was helping to run it, it was a place I would want to work. That summer marked the start of my career at Interstates.

It wasn’t glamorous. I spent the first few summers cleaning out closets, running errands, creating wire tags, and working in the panel shop. Eventually, I worked in the accounting department and had the chance to hone some of the skills I was learning in college. During those years, I observed how employees treated each other and saw the emphasis Interstates placed on serving customers. That tone was set at the top – by Jim.

I was impressed by the company’s drive for excellence and quality. I also appreciated the way the employees treated each other, including me, a lowly college student. Although I moved away after graduating college, I stayed in contact with my Interstates family. I knew there was something special about a place built on the legacy of servant leadership.

I’m grateful for the opportunity Jim gave me over 20 years ago, and I’m grateful to have returned to Interstates. I hope to be a part of the legacy for future generations.

Do you remember a leader who made an impact on you early in your career? Who were they and how did they inspire you?


Catherine Bloom, Interstates Chief Financial Officer


Check out our previous Leadership Series posts:

1) Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Wythe Room

2) Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Lincoln Room

3) Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Marshall Room

4) Leadership Series: Inspiration Behind the Wooden Huddle


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