A father’s dying words propelled Emily S. Harrington toward becoming the entrepreneur she’d always wanted to be.
Harrington, 58, the president and CEO of Cranston-based Qualified Resources International, is one of nine siblings, most of whom, like their father, Marcial Samson, have chosen to run their own businesses. A native of Manila, Harrington came to the U.S. at 16, but moved back and forth between Rhode Island and the Philippines, before settling in the early 1990s at Citizens Bank.
Life, however, had other plans for her.
Marcial Samson had been not only a sporting-goods manufacturer and mayor in Caloocan, a city within metro Manila, but also a prisoner in the mid-1970s under the martial law declared by former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos. He knew the meaning of trials and hard work, his daughter says.
Gravely ill in the early 1990s, he visited his daughter in the U.S., until Jan. 29, 1992, when she flew to Manila to be at his bedside. He died early the next morning.
“We talked a lot,” Harrington recalled. “He … just encouraged me to try and start a business, and [said] that he believed in me. That was very important. It was motivating. I thought about it on the way home, and resigned within a week” from Citizens Bank.
At the bank, where she was first a loan-installment credit manager and then an assistant treasurer, Harrington had noticed that Citizens used a lot of temporary workers. She wanted to start a business that would provide short-term and permanent placement services to direct-hire, light industrial and office-support staff in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The idea of being an entrepreneur was “always in me,” she told Providence Business News. That motivation, coupled with her father’s staunch support and her own high energy and perseverance, led her to seek out the U.S. Small Business Association’s help in crafting a business plan. She also had the support of her husband, Timothy Harrington, whom she had married in 1977.