Innovative Benefit Planning: 35 Years of Putting People First

Some companies make such a significant mark in the community that their business becomes known for more than just their product or service. Such is the case for Innovative Benefit Planning. Celebrating their 35th anniversary this year, the business has a proven record of helping their clients, while also addressing the needs of the South Jersey community and their team members.

Mark Sulpizio and Terriann Procida

It’s a winning business formula that developed organically. In fact, even the company itself started somewhat non-traditionally.

“I like to say we accidentally became entrepreneurs,” says Terriann Procida, who co-founded the company with her husband Mark Sulpizio.

The two were working with insurance companies when they recognized a gap in the market – businesses required additional support navigating their benefits packages. That simple mission spurred their 35 years of growth, values and community involvement.

Today, Innovative Benefit Planning works with organizations to navigate, understand and implement employee benefit packages. Initially, the company helped employees process claims and evaluate healthcare plans. But as the demand grew, so did their team.

“We didn’t set out to grow the business,” Procida says. “We just realized more businesses needed our services.”

“We have always stood by the idea that if we put people first – whether a client or employee – and go above and beyond in our mission to do right by them, then everything will work out.”

From a sole proprietorship, the company expanded to a team of over 30 professionals, operating out of a 10,000-square-foot space and catering to a diverse range of clients from local businesses to large corporations. IBP’s services have expanded into retirement plans, workplace wellness programs, executive benefits, employee advocacy and more. It happened very naturally, says Procida, but that doesn’t mean it was easy.

“In the beginning, it’s not like there was someone to teach us how to do this,” she says. “We knew benefits, but we didn’t know how to run a business. We had to research, learn on our own, make mistakes and learn from other leaders in the industry.”

“There’s no amount of success that will make me forget what it took to get us here,” she adds. “I remember early on there were times we didn’t have money to buy groceries, one of our clients owned a pasta sauce business and after every meeting, he’d gift us his pasta sauce and we’d eat nothing but that for the next week.”

35 years later, the team is far from their pasta-sauce-for-dinner phase, but many of those initial foundational experiences still ring true. The company’s core values – putting people first, going above and beyond, continual improvement, being results-driven and embracing change – have been the cornerstone of their operations.

“We have always stood by the idea that if we put people first – whether that’s a client or employee – and go above and beyond in our mission to do right by them, then everything will work out,” says Procida. “It can be hard, and sometimes it leads us somewhere we didn’t plan to be, but it’s always right in the end.” 

IBP consistently hosts an array of seminars, webinars and events throughout the year. Their flagship event is the annual Well-Being @ Work Summit, now in its fifth year, which concentrates on enhancing employee well-being. In response to 2020’s healthcare and workplace culture shifts, IBP also launched its Mental Health First Aid Training and Suicide Prevention Certification. This comprehensive 8-hour session, available to clients and the community, equips individuals with the skills to identify and assist colleagues experiencing a crisis in the workplace.

This commitment to helping others was never just a corporate responsibility – it was personal, and it extends far past the workplace. 

“I had a sister with Down Syndrome, and we couldn’t afford to send her to school,” says Procida. “St. John of God School allowed my mother to donate her time to pay for tuition. We benefited from so many different nonprofits and community programs. Now on the other side, I see how important this work is. I see that nonprofits and community organizations can’t do it on their own.” 

This is the driving factor behind the company’s 2024 goal to support the community through 35 givebacks in honor of its 35th anniversary. Throughout the year, every employee can present organizations and causes they feel passionate about. For Procida, her experiences inspired the company’s work with Archway Programs, where her sister lived, and Samaritan, who cared for her at the end of her life. Recently Oaks Integrated Care provided support to the family through the kinship – foster and adoption – of their 3-year-old daughter. Innovative annually gives back by supporting many holi­day gift drives, mental health initiatives, and other causes. 

Heading into the next chapter in IBP’s journey, Procida will continue leading just as she started – driven by a mission and fueled by the successes, failures and changes along the way.

“As a business owner, you wake up every day and learn something new,” says Procida. “That’s part of what makes entrepreneurs successful – their willingness to continue to grow, take risks, make mistakes, own their failures and learn from them. That’s exactly what we’ll continue to do.” 

 

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