The History of PI Midlantic
In May 1985, as John Parr’s St. Elmo's Fire was topping Billboard charts and President Ronald Reagan was starting his second term in office, a young Steve Picarde, Sr. was opening the doors on his new business: PI Midlantic.
A Young Pharmacist
Fresh out of school, Steve worked as a pharmacist, but soon realized it was not his passion. He used his knowledge of pharmaceuticals to instead work with a consulting firm servicing the food and drug industry. As he worked in business development, Steve kept running into instances where the Predictive Index (PI) was being used or talked about. The PI piqued his curiosity enough to read a book about it.
At the time, the PI was not nearly as widespread as it is now. There were only a few companies in operation who were using the system as the basis for consulting. As Steve read, he confirmed what he had already suspected: that the Predictive Index was the answer for getting the right people into the right job roles and helping companies run more efficiently. Steve was compelled to reach out to the author, Arnold Daniels, founder of the Predictive Index, to inquire about licensing opportunities.
Mr. Daniels wrote back, wanting Steve to take the Predictive Index assessment before working together. Steve did and Mr. Daniels was pleased with the results. They arranged for an in-person meeting and one thing lead to another. Steve was trained in the PI and set loose into the world to start his own business.
PI Midlantic’s Slow Build
Steve believed in the power of the PI but had never sold anything to anyone before.
“The beginning was really hard,” Steve recalls, “I practiced and studied a lot. I felt my way around. Then, about five weeks in, I stumbled across a real estate developer in DC who became my first client.”
It was a very good relationship. The developer remained PI Midlantic’s client for 25 years. “Thank goodness, because the first few years were a slow build,” Steve laughs.
Steve fell back on his pharmaceutical training, working nights and weekends to make the mortgage payments, while servicing a couple dozen clients during the week.
“Sometimes I got depressed. I remember going on a sales call to Vie de France. I drove all the way to Virginia and couldn’t bear to face the possibility of rejection. I turned around before I got to the bakery headquarters and went straight back home thinking ‘I’ll never be a success.’”
Steve shakes off the memory with a shrug, “But then the sun comes out the next day and things seem a little better and you keep moving.”
A Big Break for PI Midlantic
Four years in, PI Midlantic got its big break.
Very early on, PI Midlantic got a small client in Manassas, Va. who was a copy dealer. That client got a few other copy dealers together and PI Midlantic hosted them for a PI Workshop.
Steve recalls, “Afterward, the client pulls me aside and says: ‘You know you ought to call our supplier about offering them PI training,’ and writes the phone number of the President of the whole huge corporation on a cocktail napkin and hands it to me.
“I thanked him and then abruptly threw it onto my dresser when I got home that night, thinking there was no way it would turn into anything.
“A week went by and I picked up the napkin while cleaning my room. I was about to toss it into the trash barrel when I thought, what the heck. I ought to at least give it a try.”
Steve called the number and the assistant who answered quickly passed him to someone else in the company, leaving Steve with a phone number for a cold lead in the company’s Atlanta office.
“By that point, I was invested enough that I went ahead and cold called that person. Wouldn’t you know it led to biggest client PI Midlantic has ever had? Even to this day.”
PI Midlantic Gains a Workforce
As the client list grew, people started coming to Steve wanting to work for PI Midlantic as consultants. Steve trained them in the PI and helped them in business as best he could.
“I didn’t have a plan for bringing on a team, so we all struggled to find our way those first years,” admits Steve. “Most of the consultants had another source of income while getting off the ground. One of the more memorable was the grandson of the author of the famous Christmas tune ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ whose royalties he collected helped him make ends meet.”
In 2003, PI Midlantic invested in an office in Annapolis, Md., where the company still operates today. Around the same time is when Steve started to focus on really building infrastructure. He hired an administrative assistant and, later, a marketing manager. Today, a dozen consultants make up the PI Midlantic team.
When Steve looks back over the past 30 years and considers where he and PI Midlantic are today, he is proud that he hasn’t felt like he’s had a job in all that time.
“PI Midlantic is just what I do,” he says. “I’m also proud that I’ve brought my family into the business and that we have a stable team of consultants who are passionate about the Predictive Index.
“But the funny thing is that what I’m most proud of is not the legacy of it all, it’s the friends I’ve gained. I can probably go to any major city in the country and call someone up who I’ve trained, or a past client, and go to dinner with them. Many of my best friends have come from this business.”
Vision for PI Midlantic’s Future
This year, PI Worldwide, PI Midlantic’s parent company, was acquired, so Steve expects the next five years will be the most exciting yet as far as growth and change. Plans are set to include new products and additional compatible systems for the Predictive Index.
For PI Midlantic, Steve hopes the company will grow to be more than double the size it is now and says plans are being made to achieve that goal.
Most of all, though, Steve’s goals are to transition out of most of his client responsibilities in the next five years; see his son, Steve Picarde, Jr., become president of the company; and “slowly fade into the sunset.”
“Overall,” he says, “these past 30 years have been a great ride.”