From the very beginning of Transportation Impact, giving back to the community has been as much a part of the company’s ethos as providing great value to customers. In early 2017 that practice of giving back was formalized as IMPACT1 — Improvements Made by People ACTing as One — a pledge to provide 1% in goodwill services, 1% of employee time, and 1% of company profit to the community.
In January 2018, as TI leadership and staff looked back on a decade of being in business and looked forward to the next decades, they decided to develop the basic structure of IMPACT1 and provide a proven path for building employee engagement and to take the company’s charitable endeavors to the next level.
“Rather than habitually taking external requests, we implemented proactive plans for monthly giving opportunities,” explains Leslie Sutton, TI Partner Development Supervisor and a member of the IMPACT1 Committee, along with Jillian Farrington and Lauren Edmondson. “For 2018 we created different employee events to coincide with specific awareness days or months, such as World Health Day. We also took on ideas submitted by employees who have a special connection to a cause. This structure is helping us internally to promote teamwork and community involvement, and externally to promote IMPACT1 initiatives and the passion that all of us at Transportation Impact have for giving back.”
While external requests for support are still received and honored, a portion (about a third in 2018) of the IMPACT1 resources are now also dedicated to scheduled initiatives. In its first year, this new program got enthusiastic support from throughout the organization.
2018 Initiatives – Rewarding for All
With February being both American Heart Month and the home of International Polar Bear Day (Feb. 27), the calendar kicked off with a Polar Bear Plunge to raise money for the American Heart Association. The company’s managing partners, Keith Byrd, Travis Burt, and Doug Starcke, put themselves in the hot seat to take a dip into the cold Atlantic. Whoever had the most money donated in his name would have to take a swim in the frigid winter waters. Members of the local community, company employees, and also customers of TI across the country voted with their dollars.
The contest was so popular that the fundraising goal of $5000 was met in only five days. The winner, with a total of $1900, was Keith Byrd, who “enthusiastically tried to swim to England!” as Burt described it afterward.
Other initiatives throughout the year were also timed to coincide with special days and months. For Read Across America / Dr. Seuss Day on March 2, company employees read to children at White Oak Elementary, a local school. April — Stress Awareness Month — saw the lawn out front of TI HQ filled with people doing yoga, led by an instructor from a local yoga studio.
“We were given the opportunity to take a break from our busy schedules to come together as a team and perform yoga while at work. How cool is that!” said Junior Accountant Melissa Martinez. “Our company cares about the well-being of its employees, and initiatives like this one make that evident.”
To honor Military Appreciation Month and Memorial Day in May, the company collected items to send off as care packages. In June, National Rip Current Awareness Week coincided with National Safety Month. Being headquartered at the beach and full of avid surfers, TI is very aware of the importance of water safety, so the company arranged with the local TV station, WCTI News Channel 12, to do a broadcast with Captain Bruce Norman of the Emerald Isle Fire Department and local lifeguards for a lesson on how to survive if pulled into a rip current.
One initiative that particularly struck home with employees was a sponsored blood drive with the Red Cross on August 17. “Blood donation is significant to me because there’s always need, and the need is unique,” said Programmer Joey Sisk. “And not just that, there’s always a need for everyone to contribute; no individual’s exceptional generosity can make up for others’ absence.”
Giovanna Rossi, Freight Services Associate, seized the opportunity to participate because “I love being able to make a difference and know I’m saving a life. I love that soon after I donate, I receive an email from them letting me know where my blood is going. I may not always be able to help financially, but I can ALWAYS help with my blood — as long as I drink enough water before I donate!”
IMPACT1 — Evolving and Growing
IMPACT1 grew from an idea brought back to Emerald Isle from the 2016 Inc. 5000 conference by Transportation Impact VP of Sales Berkley Stafford. At the event, Tony Robbins spoke about how a company was giving back to the community by donating both time and resources, and Stafford saw that concept as a perfect fit for TI’s ethos of philanthropy.
The program immediately gained support throughout the organization. “I’m extremely proud to work for a company that is so charitable and encouraging of employees’ charitable efforts. I think it’s essential,” said Sisk.
Martinez also sees the potential of the program to create real change. “We have an ARMY here that can make such an IMPACT together, more so than we can do individually,” she said. “We do so much during the holidays for families, but what I love the most is we have the spirit of giving and helping all year round.”
Looking back over the first two years of the program and observing how it is growing and evolving, Stafford sees it becoming a defining feature of the company.
“It is very humbling to see how well received IMPACT1 has been at TI. Our people have always been IMPACT1ers . . . The only thing missing was a little structure. Our company and the impact we have made on our community is priceless. Our efforts to produce good products and services in the market and ultimately drive profitability have a direct impact on the backend of our organization that really matters. Transportation Impact might be our name, and we have definitely built a best-in-class brand, but if you want to know who we really are, look at IMPACT1.
“People want passion in their work,” he continued. “They want meaningful change directly from their efforts. I absolutely see this being the face of our company in the future. I want it to grow into its own company that requires its own staff because at that point, the positive IMPACT we have made as an organization will be the forethought of everything we do.”