Support from the heart Featured

7:00pm EDT December 26, 2009

It’s easy to help people when you have a lot to give. Mervin Dunn was not about to stop helping others just because his business was having a tough year.

And 2009 was just that for Commercial Vehicle Group Inc. Sales revenue was cut in half and a reduction in cash flow had the company swinging from profitability to an operating loss in a snap. Some of Dunn’s peers thought maybe it was time to suspend the high school internship program that couples more than a dozen high school juniors and seniors from the community with a company mentor.

But the company’s president and CEO would hear none of it. Perhaps, it was the growth he saw over and over again from this pairing of student and mentor, developing a challenging assignment over a summer and working together to conquer it.

Interns are paid above-market wages and the young people then write out a report on their experience and the findings they reached on their project.

But as inspiring as those internship experiences are, maybe Dunn’s drive to help people is also a little personal.

Maybe he remembers back to his childhood, when he was the most educated person in his home by the time he was in third grade. Growing up in a three-room house back in Winchester, Ky., Dunn took on the responsibility of looking after the family finances at a time when most young boys were more worried about getting to the sandlot after school before the sun went down.

But even at that young age, Dunn had bigger goals. He wanted to support his family, but he also wanted to finish high school and get himself into college. He worked the tobacco fields pulling blooms, and then he worked at PepsiCo and later GTE where he met his first mentor.

The hard work didn’t end there, but Dunn was on his way. Today, that young boy from the country is CEO at Commercial Vehicle Group, which designs and manufactures integrated system solutions for the commercial vehicle industry.

Countless charities and community organizations have benefited from Dunn’s philanthropy. But it might be the internship program that is closest to his heart.

How to reach: Commercial Vehicle Group Inc., (614) 289-5177 or www.cvgrp.com