The real bottom line

There is an element to a successful business that is hard to quantify but undeniably important to the bottom line.

Its impact is felt most in hard times rather than good ones. And, its greatest impact occurs when no return on the investment is sought.

What is this mysterious ingredient to a solid business? It’s simply social responsibility, a company giving back to the communities it serves through volunteerism, pro bono efforts and financial support. Its dividend is what many in the business world believe is a company’s most important asset — a good reputation.

It reflects the kind of company others want to do business with, and where good people want to work. In effect, companies that follow this line of thinking help themselves by helping others. Both win. Medical Mutual of Ohio has a strong sense of social responsibility. It should come as no surprise that many companies in the greater Cleveland area do, too.

Believing that many companies shared our commitment to community but were going virtually unrecognized, a year ago Medical Mutual and SBN magazine created the Pillar Award for Community Service. It was one way on one night to thank these companies. We weren’t sure what to expect the first time around, but it’s safe to say we were overwhelmed by the response to the program.

The most difficult challenge we faced was to limit the number of winners; everyone seemed so deserving. Eventually, we whittled the nominees down to 11 winners and celebrated their selections with a gala event at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven. It was a great night.

It’s hard to believe that a year has already passed, and that the 2nd Annual Pillar Award night is upon us. With even more nominees this year, we should have expected that our biggest challenge last year would prove to be even tougher this year. It was. Facing the difficult task of selecting the 1999 winners was an expanded panel of judges.

Interestingly, they narrowed the nominees to 11 winners again. I’d like to thank the judges for volunteering their valuable time and adding further stature to the Pillar Awards.

This year’s winners represent companies large and small across the greater Cleveland region and stretching to Kent. They are manufacturers and service firms. They are from the creative fields of advertising and sports. There is a dentist and even a hair studio in the group. They are an excellent reflection of the area’s business community, and they all have one thing in common: They care about others less fortunate and they give back to the communities they serve.

They do so without the objective of attention or recognition. They know their contribution makes a difference and fosters the kind of pride within their organizations that builds a reputation that money can’t buy. Isn’t that the kind of company you’d like to do business with?

Please join me in congratulating not only this year’s Pillar Award winners, but also all companies that give back to their communities and help improve the quality of life for everyone.

Kent Clapp is chairman, president & CEO of Medical Mutual of Ohio. Medical Mutual of Ohio is the title sponsor for the Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service.