MOUNDRIDGE — A culture of giving might be best built by a company’s employee base.
The Bradbury Group, an international company based in Moundridge, focuses its efforts on hiring positive leaders in the community, then follows their lead through corporate citizenship.
“Our employees get heavily involved in our communities and help out on a variety of things. That’s certainly encouraged by us, but they’re doing it because they want to, not because we’re requiring it,” said David Cox, president of The Bradbury Group. “Their involvement leads to a lot of our involvement. They’ll come to us and tell us about what they’re working on and what they might need, so our investment comes from their involvement.”
The companies of The Bradbury Group are leading manufacturers and suppliers of roll forming and coil processing equipment for a wide range of industries. The equipment built by Bradbury facilities can be used for products ranging from HVAC elements to garage doors. The group has 11 manufacturing facilities around the world with a presence in 17 countries.
The company’s focus on corporate citizenship involves the social responsibility of each business to improve the quality of life in their communities. These practices, which range from giving charitable donations to offering youth education opportunities, have a cost, but the hope is that businesses will gain back what they’ve donated in quality employees and company loyalty.
“What we look for are either projects that have a broad appeal or something that’s critical to the community at large, not just our employees. We look into how these organizations are run, how they manage their business affairs,” Cox said. “Some are just donations of time, money or materials to support students in an athletics program or things of that nature. Then you’ve got big projects like St. Luke’s Hospital in Marion and Pine Village in Moundridge that are investing in the future of the community.”
In a time where consumers research a company’s stance on political or social issues before a purchase, many organizations are attempting to build a culture that The Bradbury Group has maintained for years.
“Being a good corporate citizen isn’t new, this has been going on with Bradbury for many decades. Maybe because we’re bigger now, we can reach further and get involved in more projects, but this is something that’s been important to us as a company before people started reading about corporate citizenship in the Harvard Business Review,” Cox said. “To me, helping out the communities where your employees live is good for your business. It helps you recruit because people know who we are and see us involved in their community. They see us as a place they’d like to work at because we’re willing to invest in their quality of living. On the educational side, if we’re not involved in some of these projects helping students grow the skills we need, then we won’t have the employee base we need in the future. All those factors come into play.”
On the other hand, Bradbury isn’t retail — customers are other manufacturers purchasing roll forming equipment — so consumers won’t have first-hand experiences with the company.
“Bradbury is a very large employer in this town and region, but not everyone knows what we do,” said Ryan Durst, vice president of sales and marketing at Bradbury. “Things like sponsoring the community meal at the Black Kettle Festival helps us get out into the community and have those conversations so people can learn more about us. That lets us have a lot of intentional conversations and we can point out a piece of a roof or a garage door that came off of a piece of our equipment. It helps people to understand what we do and who we are.”
Corporate citizenship practices demonstrate their benefits quickly with organizations like Cradles to Crayons, a child care center in Moundridge.
“Cradles to Crayons is critical for our employees to have, so we got involved with them. We have an employee who was sitting on the board at the time and brought the investment opportunity to us. We decided that it was something we wanted to help grow so they could get over that hump and be where they needed to be,” Cox explained. “We wanted to help them sustain into the future. Our employees get a discount for their use of Cradles to Crayons and we make up the difference. That makes it more affordable for our employees while still supporting the day care center.”
For a similar reason, The Bradbury Group invests in future employees by ensuring students can learn manufacturing skills.
“A lot of those machining programs are really struggling for funding because they’re expensive to set up, so anything we can do to help keep kids interested in a production job helps us too,” said Maria Pressnall, director of human resources. “We’re supporting the communities where our employees are currently living, but we also support our future employees as well by donating raw materials for their projects or machining equipment or just hosting tours.”
Cox hopes other businesses around the world pick up on The Bradbury Group’s value of corporate citizenship, modeled at it’s global locations.
“Any of our divisions around the world have adopted these values and beliefs as well. You could find all of our subsidiaries investing in the communities that their employees live in in one way or another,” Cox said. “They’re helping our the local schools with a machining program, hosting internships, investing in not-for-profits or community organizations. They’re in different parts of the world but they all have that same philosophy.”
Back at home, other business owners can join in similar ventures, no matter the business’ size.
“You don’t have to be a big company to help out at the Black Kettle Festival or the state fair. The size of a business shouldn’t affect their ability to be a good corporate citizen,” Cox said. “The size might just affect the level that you could be involved. To donate time to judge a welding competition, it doesn’t matter if you’re a one-person machine shop or a 400-person machine shop, you can still donate your time and help out.”
Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.