Holiday Message from the CEO
The typical holiday message mentions all the business success of the year soon to end, talks about goals for the future, thanks customers, vendors and employees, talks about holiday cheer, peace and goodness. It might even mention a party or two. Not mine. Not this year!
I want to tell you about our employees. They are the backbone of this company. They make the important things happen every day. They are generous to a fault, not just at the holiday time but, throughout the year.
We have employees who sit on boards of charitable organizations, public school boards and library commissions. We have employees who participate in mentorship programs, work with their churches, cook for the poor and work with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. These are some of the things I know about. I’m sure many of them do things privately for the good of others that they choose not to openly discuss. They are just good people.
We do have several formal programs of which we are extremely proud:
GRM CARES is a voluntary program for our employees. We meet about four or five times a year after work hours. Everyone brings $20 to donate and 3 or 4 employees make short presentations about charities that are important to them. We then vote as a group and all the money collected goes to the chosen charity. Last week our meeting raised over $1,100 for the Michigan Make-A-Wish Foundation and 80% of our employees voluntarily participated. Last fall, our charity was the City Of Flint Community Foundation Children’s Fund and we had over 80% participation for that as well.
In November, we read in the Grand Rapids Business Journal that the Mel Trotter Ministries was short on their non-perishable food drive. Our employees took it upon themselves to collect food and other items and we will be delivering over 1,000 pounds of food, etc. and several hundred dollars in cash later this week for Mel Trotter.
Our employees have always been interested in community service so this year we formalized a program to pay them for days they devote to a community service project. Each employee is paid their wages for pre-approved community service. The good news is that many of them were doing it without this program. We hope that the program allows more new participants and encourages even more service by those already doing it.
Some things are not planned or structured. Some good works just happen spontaneously. Last week, one of our newest employees who had not yet qualified for any type of paid leave, called to inform us that his 4-month old baby (first child) was having emergency heart surgery. Obviously, he and his wife were concentrating on the welfare of their baby but, in the backs of their minds they also were agonizing over his job security and not having pay. Our employees, on their own, decided to donate vacation days from their personal accounts to help out this young family. As a CEO, this was one of the proudest moments of my career.
In 2016, we spent significant time discussing our value system (see below). Value statements are often made by companies as promotional statements. Not here! Our employees live our values in their personal and professional lives.
Every successful business person reaches a point where it’s no longer about the money, the conquest or chase, the growth or acquisition, etc. As I get older, it’s more about “Did I make a difference?”, “Did I positively influence people?” and “Did I foster a values environment?”, etc. My answer is that I did not but, WE have! Our employees do make a difference, they do positively influence people and they do live by a value system. What greater Christmas gift could a man ask for? None. I have my gift and I am so proud of it. Thank you to all of our employees who work each day to make the world better and me look good!