Doing good helps companies do well
Award nominees cited for their business practices, but also appreciated for the benefits they bring to their communities

They may be small, but that doesn’t mean they have small hearts.

Three of the nominees for Small Business of the Year for Small Business Week 2011 don’t let the fact they only have a handful of employees stop them from trying to make a big impact in the community.

The Residential Electric Contractor Company – or TRECC Electric for short – helps build houses for Habitat for Humanity. Calgary‘s Child Magazine helps raise money for respite care for parents.

And Sure Systems – an IT firm – helps feed the homeless.

But ‘doing good’ isn’t just an after-thought for these successful businesses. It’s a core philosophy that ultimately translates into more satisfied workers, happier customers, healthier communities and a better bottom line.

TRECC director Susan Crippin says the companies employees have worked on four Habitat for Humanity homes in the last five years along with other builders in the community. The firm has also donated labour and construction materials to a local women’s shelter.

Crippin, whose husband Bill started the firm in the ’90s, says employees look forward to the charity work.

“Everyone loves to do it, and they feel good too knowing they’re working on a Habitat house,” she says.

And paying it forward often has a way of returning the favour when it comes to TRECC’s own employees.

“They probably end up giving to us in silent ways,” she says. “They’re more careful or they watch their time card a little tighter.”

At Sure Systems, an IT firm of 12 employees, the company’s president Alex McGillivray says they’ve donated to Mustard Seed Calgary and sponsored a meal at the Calgary Drop-In Centre, among other donations.

But it didn’t garner a nomination for Small Business of the Year because of its charitable work. Instead the Calgary Chamber of Commerce is recognizing it for its sustainable practices. McGillivray says being green is more than just doing the right thing for the community and the planet. It’s good business practice.

“We try to get people to think about how they make their travel choices in where they go,” he says about the inhouse program incentivizing workers to use transit instead of driving to work.

But sustainable practices are as much about the community as they are about treating Mother Nature right, he says. After all, a healthy environment leads to a healthier community.

And because small businesses live and eat in the communities they serve, when the community benefits so does the business itself.

It’s a point of fact certainly not overlooked at Calgary’s Child, a local magazine.

“We started doing community events probably 16 years ago,” says publisher Ellen Percival, who started the magazine with her business partner Sherry Kerr who died five years ago.

“We have families and we raised our families with very small children through the years of building the magazine, so who better to be able to have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the community?”

Percival says the reason for the publication’s existence is to help families in need connect with the resources and agencies that can provide them with much-needed services.

“Seventeen years ago there wasn’t a vehicle,” she says.

“That’s why we started Calgary’s Child, so those who needed help could find it.”

It’s been a successful premise. The magazine’s readership is now 150,000, but equally important, the small business is a good place to work, she says.

“Our philosophy when we started was if you do what you love, success will follow,” she says.

Read more… (http://www.montrealgazette.com)

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Hello, my name is Dayle. I am a designer of both print & web, as well as an advocate of positive social change. My goal for this blog "Nice deeds, by nice people" is to use the internet as a tool for good. My focus is on inspirational stories about individuals, groups and organizations that are making a difference in the world we live in. Please take part in the conversations, or submit ideas for stories. By reading, getting involved and spreading the word through social mediums, you can help bring attention to the issues that we all face today.
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