I remember reading this line in high school philosophy class that quickly started me thinking of all the little acts of kindness I had personally experienced or offered. Not long after that, I started formally volunteering as an ESL tutor and realized the profound impact a simple clarification or edit makes on those willing to learn. Year after year I started to notice — either by necessity or fate — that these small acts of kindness really do make a difference.
Now as a young professional, I can appreciate the little acts of kindness companies do that even sometimes stretch world wide. As I prepared for this feature, it was especially heartwarming to learn what the Affiliated Distirbutors buying group and their members and suppliers have been doing to literally make the world a better place.
And when I say literally, I mean it! When one of AD's members, Central Pipe Supply Inc., went through an F3 tornado that ripped through Pearl, Mo., last year, the AD community stepped in to help. Gary Jackson, AD's VP of PVF and PHCP Divisions and Jeffrey Beall, AD's President of PHCP Divisions, graciously offered to help in any way possible.
All were informed of the natural disaster and all the options available to assist their member through this most difficult of time.
Their AD supplier partners rushed in to see how they could help. The Watts Regulator and Fernco rep from Billingsley & Associates risked the impossible to get down the street to bring a generator, bottled water, extension cords and a room air conditioner.
Their Matco-Norca sales rep from Omega Marketing came in and set up a tent, and then cooked hot lunches for two days to feed the employees and workers. And their AD Network Chairman, John Edwards, COO at Eastway Supplies in Columbus, Ohio, sent gift certificates for lunches.
Sherrie Townsend, Central Pipe Supply President, reflected on the experience, “Our AD network members kept us up to date, sharing advice and resources. And the dedicated suppliers' and reps' generosity, as well as the awesome staff at AD truly came through in a big way. Despite the challenges in 2014, it was the best year of sales for Central Pipe Supply since 2008. We can never thank enough all of those who cared and helped for being there with us.”
This is but just one example of their generosity – and it all starts with the heart. Bill Weisberg, AD's Chairman & CEO, is at the heart of this movement at AD. His enthusiasm and personal commitment to Give Back is only matched by the generosity of the people around him that share the same sentiment.
Bill's passion reaches the employees of AD, too. Every employee has three Charitable Time Off days; meaning they can take three days off each year to volunteer at any charity they choose.
AD also presents an annual Giving Back award to their members and supplier partners. Past recipients of the award in their PCHP Divisions are Eastern Industrial (2014), Gerber Danze (2013) and Merit Brass (2012).
Another important figure in this endeavor is Jeffery Beall. Beall is the President of the PHCP Divisions of AD. His unwavering support and contributions is evident in the work that he does year after year. He answered some questions below on what it means to be a part of this organization and how important it is to give back.
DG: How did “Giving Back Activities” come into fruition? How long has AD been giving back?
Beall: Our formal giving back program was created in 2011 at AD. We were inspired by what we saw our members and supplier partners were doing in this arena and realized this was something that we could do as a company to help our community.
DG: What are some of AD's favorite charities?
Beall: We take a very collaborative approach to choosing which organizations we support. As an organization, we have two days when the whole company gets together and spends the day Giving Back.
Our Giving Back Committee identifies organizations that can take a group our size for the day, they will present a few options to the company, and the company votes on which organization we support that day.
A few organizations we have supported are SHARE Food Program, a Philadelphia organization that serves the hungry through farming and food distribution. Our team did everything from packaging food boxes, painting their facility, to building garden beds.
We have also worked with an organization called Cradles to Crayons, a group that helps kids get the things they need to thrive. We spent the day cleaning toys, sorting clothes and assembling packages for specific kids in need.
DG: Why is giving back so important for you, personally, and the company as a whole?
Beall: For me personally, it is a way to say thank you for all the blessings I have received. Giving doesn't always have to be financial gifts; it can be an investment of your time. I have focused my “Giving Back” around youth ministries and local children’s charities that can make a difference in their quality of life. I never fail to receive more blessings from giving back, funny how it works that way.
I am fortunate to have worked alongside people throughout my career that support philanthropic endeavors. I have learned a great deal from them and try to pass on what I have learned and observed.
At AD, we celebrate Giving Back as a joyful responsibility that not only strengthens our community, but our team members and company as well. Through an investment of our time off supporting local charities, called CTO (Charitable Time Off), AD allows us to develop personally as well as professionally.
Our members and supplier partners share this value; as local and independent companies, they realize the solutions to solve some of our country's biggest problems can be tackled within our communities and by regular people, working to make a difference in the lives of others.
DG: What does the recently re-branded motto “Together, we win” mean to you?
Beall: To me, ‘Together, We Win' is a perfect way to explain why the AD community is so successful. To stay competitive in the market place you need to be constantly evolving. When our members share best practices in our formal networking sessions, they learn what's working from each other, which helps them stay ahead of the curve.
When our members support our supplier partners by taking new products to market and through brand loyalty, they win. In short, AD is a community of smart business people who know that as strong as they each are alone, together they are stronger. Together,
Whether it's big or small, Aesop said it best. It's incredibly endearing to see his message, aligning with AD, not only come to fruition – but inspire a whole industry to follow. It's also a testament that we indeed can all make any size changes that make our surrounding environments a little bit better. 2