“It’s just ingrained in me to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Edson Bridges’ life – 84 years so far – has been defined by pivotal moments: his coming to faith as a child, his years at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, and those summers spent working on a Vermont dairy farm.
“That gave me an insight into the fact that you can work hard and still enjoy life. … It is a foundation stone that came into play later in life,” he says.
1959 brought another pivotal moment. That’s the year Bridges joined his father’s investment advisory business, backed by degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Harvard Business School.
“We had maybe ten or so families that dad had as clients, so maybe there’s 20 portfolios, but the total fee income in 1959 was $8,000. The next couple of years, were $13,000; $19,000; $24,000 and then $33,000.”
In 1963, Edson successfully organized and launched Bridges Investment Fund, the first Nebraska-based mutual fund registered under the Investment Company Act.
“That’s an important piece of work because we had to do it on a shoestring,” he says. “It went public in December of 1963.”
Bridges has served as President and CEO of Bridges Investment Counsel since 1970 and the affiliated Provident Trust Company since it was chartered in 1992. Faith, honesty and integrity have been his cornerstones.
“To be able to earn people’s trust, you always have to be sure you tell them the truth. And you also have to be in a position where you can go the extra mile.”
The result of that dedication, coupled with expertise, has been incredible growth. Today, Bridges Investment Counsel and its affiliated companies provide investment management services for nearly $1.7 billion in assets for clients in 26 states. Bridges credits his son, Ted, president and CEO of Bridges Investment Management, with much of that growth. The oldest of Bridges’ three children, Ted joined the company in 1982.
“He’s really the boss now and wants to be the boss,” Edson says, “and you have to feel good about that.”
Bridges describes himself as 5/8 retired now. An active and generous philanthropist, he serves as a director or member of various boards and organizations, including Nebraska Methodist Hospital, the University of Nebraska Foundation, and First Covenant Church of Omaha.
“Volunteerism is a big thing,” he says. “I feel so privileged to be on the boards I’ve served on, the people I’ve met there and the responsibilities we’ve been given to perform.”
As for his greatest personal reward? That, he says, is being married to his “honey,” Sally, his wife of 61 years.
“So that’s the most important thing. I think the other reward is all of the people I’ve been privileged to meet and all of the opportunities people have given me.”
2017 Business Hall of Fame Honorees