The year was 1953. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was inaugurated President. Color televisions were beginning to appear in homes. The cost of a postage stamp was 3 cents. And a young accountant and World War II veteran, only several years out of the Navy, began working with a group of energetic women who would change the course of his career.
When William Zielinski first began assisting the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet with the management of their finances, he was unprepared for what he was about to experience. The ‘50s were a hopeful time for the nation. Jobs were plentiful and innovations were rapidly improving living standards. Seizing the opportunities in front of them, the Sisters were expanding their ministries with seemingly endless energy. Their passion, enthusiasm, and dedication struck a chord with Bill and the mutual admiration that developed between the young accountant and his client soon led to new projects. Before long, word of mouth about his unique approach had spread to other Provinces and Congregations.
When the doors to the firm now known as Zielinski Companies opened in November of 1957, it was with the vision of serving the “business” needs of religious communities throughout the United States and the world. Over the ensuing decades, as Congregations’ ministerial work in education, health care, foreign missions, social services, and other areas expanded, Bill and his dedicated team responded with the same energy and enthusiasm they saw daily in their clients. New skills and services were added to the firm’s mix of offerings – property/real estate, health care, financial, and others – and the team grew.
No challenge was too great for the innovative and determined consultants to tackle. When, in 1966, the Treasurer of a religious Congregation shared the frustration of tracking and managing members’ spending across their far-flung houses, Bill was determined to come up with a solution. Inspiration came unexpectedly one afternoon while painting the family’s bathroom. Never one to let an idea slip away, Bill stopped mid-brushstroke to sketch out his idea for a computer-based centralized checking and cash management system that would track, consolidate, and report on members’ spending. Work began immediately on the service and the first IAS Central Checking System client was testing the new system within several months. And the painting project resumed.
Then as now, serving the needs of mission-focused organizations was a family affair for the Zielinskis. During the summer months when school wasn’t in session, “Mr. Z” would set out in the family car to visit clients around the country, children in tow. During the day, business meetings took place in the convents, monasteries, and motherhouses of clients, and at night the children were entertained by the sisters, priests, and brothers in and around those buildings. The Zielinski children experienced first-hand the energy and spirit Bill had first witnessed in 1953. It can be said that the next generation of company leaders literally grew up in the business!
The ongoing quest to find new ways to serve clients is deeply-ingrained in Zielinski Companies’ culture. Today, our firm offers services in more than a dozen areas, including financial, fund development, credit cards, banking/cash management, property/facility, organizational, operational, and senior care. While the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, still a client after more than 60 years, continue to hold a special place in our hearts, we have expanded into new markets and our client base has grown considerably from that humble beginning in the early ‘50s. Throughout all the many changes over the years, the spirit of innovation lives on and the excitement the young accountant felt for his role in advancing the mission of his special clients continues within Zielinski Companies.