Editor’s Note: Behind bricks and mortar are people who care

Those in business should be familiar with the phrase bottom line. It represents net income, or the payoff for all the work and investment made by a company in its people, products and services.

Today, an extension of the phrase has been cemented in the lexicon of corporate jargon: triple bottom line. It refers to the three pillars of sustainability, namely people, planet and profit, and is based on the idea that what gets measured gets attention.

This month, we’re recognizing select companies that have made the triple bottom line part of their business culture. The Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service coverage shines a light on the companies and people who embrace the idea of corporate citizenship and have chosen to give back to the communities that support them.

Companies of all sizes have shown, through their actions, how important it is to take the time to give. They’re carving out volunteer hours from busy work calendars so employees can support causes; matching donations dollar-for-dollar to nonprofits; and tying marketing efforts in to charitable endeavors.

These stories take us behind the brick and glass of area businesses to show us their heart. And we’re happy to honor their efforts.

Restoring humanity

Taking time for people is the crux of Stewart’s Caring Place, the focus of this month’s Building Stronger Communities.

The nonprofit is a resource for cancer support services that provides hope and compassion to those dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Olivia Wakeling, the organization’s executive director, talks about the importance of setting aside many of the business elements that come along with running a nonprofit to focus on people in need.

“One participant shared that Stewart’s ‘restored her humanity.’ After the experience of going through treatment, you can become a good patient, but you may forget how to be yourself,” she says.

For profit, for people

Beyond philanthropic efforts, there are ways to improve the lives of people inside for-profit companies to make a big impact. For example, Kent Elastomer Products Inc. President Bob Oborn, the subject of this month’s feature, talks about implementing lean practices at the company. The effect on its bottom line has been significant. But an unexpected outcome was the effect it had on the company’s employees.

Oborn says the time and labor savings realized through its lean practices helped reduce the company’s once-high turnover to practically zero.

“These are hard jobs,” he says. “There’s a lot of physical labor in it, and any time that you could make an employee’s job a little bit easier so they have a little bit more energy when they go home to their family, that’s what this is all about.”

Area companies and nonprofits have shown a knack for turning their assets into effective tools for philanthropic good. This goes a long way toward reinforcing the idea that behind the logo and buildings that come to represent businesses are folks who care about the people in their communities enough to give without profit motive.