Philanthropic Contributions by our Members

Manufacturing’s Civic and Philanthropic Contributions to our Community

It is a recognized fact that manufacturing provides significant economic value.  In fact, manufacturing’s value chain accounts for one-third of the United States overall economy.  A report by the Economic Policy Institute indicated that for every 100 direct durable manufacturing jobs, there are 744.1 total indirect jobs created.  And for every 100 direct nondurable manufacturing jobs, there are 514.3 total indirect jobs created.  These are powerful economic statistics that fuel our economy and local communities.

However, the “unmeasured value” of manufacturing is its civic and philanthropic contributions to local communities throughout the United States.  What makes this so challenging to capture for a report, is that manufacturers are typically discreet about their financial donations and sponsorships.  They usually prefer to do so quietly or remain completely anonymous.  However, when it comes to serving, manufacturers are usually the first to volunteer or donate.  Those who benefit include non-profits, athletic sports, children’s programs, schools, churches, hospitals, civic groups, and many more.

Recently, I had an opportunity to interview several of our Sarasota / Manatee Area Manufacturers Association (SAMA) members about their civic and philanthropic contributions to our community.

Tervis (www.tervis.com)

As the original reusable drinkware and environmentally active companies in our area, Tervis is also one of the largest employers and manufacturing companies.  “We see our civic contributions and philanthropic work in two ways: First, Tervis believes in taking care of its own.” says Rogan Donelly, President and CEO for Tervis.  “By that, we mean we focus our philanthropy hyper-locally, to benefit our employees and other people of the communities in which they live and work.  Our other efforts to be a responsible corporate citizen revolve around sustainability: It is essential to our mission and is in our company DNA to promote ocean conservancy, zero waste manufacturing and regrinding/recycling our manufacturing materials.”

Tervis COO/CFO Hosana Fieber says, “Invest in your people. It is important for them to know that what matters to them matters to you. By recognizing the needs of employees and the people they know, we, as a company, are appreciating them as individuals. It really makes a company more human when it actively addresses the needs of its people.”

“Over our 75-year history and our 40+ years in the community, we’ve given millions of dollars in cash and product to various causes – it’s difficult to list them all,” says Donelly. “Through the years, Tervis has supported numerous local community-based organizations like Ringling College, Sarasota Ballet, Girls Inc., and Selby Gardens.  In our sustainability work, we partner with groups like The Florida Aquarium, Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium, and Force Blue/100 Yards of Hope to keep the oceans clean and to help repopulate diminishing coral reefs. We also regrind and recycle materials, making benches we donate to line the Legacy Trail.”

PGT Innovations (www.pgtinnovations.com)

As one of the area’s largest employers and manufacturers, PGT Innovations has a long-term legacy of serving, volunteering, donating, and financially contributing to numerous organizations locally.  Our community and organizations have all benefited through their generosity. This type of community service represents the leadership and culture instilled by the company’s co-founder Rod Hershberger and continues today under its current President and CEO, Jeff Jackson.

“Making a meaningful difference in our community and supporting our team members is incredibly important to PGT Innovations” says Debbie LaPinska, Senior Vice President of Human Resources.  “For our team members, we regularly evaluate our pay structure and in-house training programs to ensure that we are providing above-average paying jobs with a path for growth and long-term career opportunities. We give back to our community by offering financial or corporate endorsement support to organizations that align with our corporate values, such as the YMCA (www.swflymca.org), Children First (www.childrenfirst.net), Loveland Center (www.lovelandcenter.org), and Bosses for Babies  (www.childrensmovementflorida.org).”  In addition, PGT Innovations frequently partners with dealers with their network to donate window and door products to various charities and organizations such as Habitat for Humanity (www.habitat.org), Disabled American Veterans (www.dav.org), churches, and many other non-profit groups.

“Financial contribution and support for local organizations is tremendously important but giving of one’s time is equally as important.”  says LaPinska. “For that reason, many of our PGT Innovations executives and senior leaders actively serve on various community and non-profit boards.” LaPinska served for several years on the board at Loveland Center and currently serves on the YMCA board. In addition, each of the company’s 4000+ team members are provided a paid day off every year to volunteer at an organization of their choice.  “We want our team members to know that we care about the organizations they support and the various communities in which we live” adds LaPinska.

Chris-Craft (www.chriscraft.com

As a subsidiary of Winnebago Industries, Chris-Craft specializes in manufacturing luxury boats that are recognized globally for their stunning beauty and performance.  With the support of the Winnebago Industries Foundation (www.winnebagoind.com), Chris-Craft provides extensive community and non-profit support.  “There is an entire corporate culture based on supporting community and “giving back”. says Kathy Alder, Director Human Resources.  “As an example, we provided early funding to support community-based Covid-19 relief and launched an employee hardship fund to assist team members facing unanticipated financial hardship due to the pandemic.”

The company has a formal community sponsorship and volunteer campaign that the “Community GO Team” develops at the beginning of each year.  Chris-Craft employees have supported these charities over the past year: Food Bank of Manatee (www.mealsonwheelsplus.org/food-bank-of-manatee), Breast Cancer Research Foundation (www.bcrf.org), United Way (www.unitedwaysuncoast.org), Toys for Tots (www.bradenton-fl.toysfortots.org), Manatee Habitat (www.manateehabitat.org), Keep Manatee Beautiful (www.kab.org/programs/great-american-cleanup), Embracing our Differences (www.embracingourdifferences.org) and Mote Marine Research (www.mote.org).  Annually, the company sponsors a GO for Good Campaign where employees donate to charities of their choice and those donations are matched by the foundation!

Mullet’s Aluminum Products, Inc.  (www.mulletsaluminum.com)

Recognized as one of the largest architectural aluminum manufacturers in the Southeastern United States, and one of the region’s largest window installation and roofing contractors, Mullet’s Aluminum specializes in quality products and services.  “We value our customers, employees and our community.” says Travis Mullet, President of Mullet’s Aluminum Products, Inc. “We would like to help every organization or person who is in need – but unfortunately – that is not possible.  As a result, we identified organizations whom we feel will provide the maximum benefit for many in our community such as Suncoast Charities for Children (www.suncoastcharitiesforchildren.org), Boys & Girls Club (www.bgcsdc.org) and numerous high school athletic and youth sports teams.  And you will never see a press release or any sort of statement about a financial donation.  That is not why we do it.  We volunteer and donate because it is the right thing to do.”

Sarasota Manatee Area Manufacturers Association (SAMA)

“Giving back to the community should be a part of every business’ culture.  Organizing volunteer outings, fundraising, or serving on non-profit boards is something I’ve done for most of my career.”  says Rob Harris, Executive Director, Sarasota/Manatee Area Manufacturers Association (SAMA).  “I think this will be especially helpful for the smaller manufacturers wanting to get involved but do not think they have enough staff members to make a difference.  Everyone makes a difference!  To this point, SAMA is in the process of starting a Community Committee, so we can pull our members together to serve the community as one.”

In closing, it was truly inspirational having the opportunity to meet with key manufacturing leaders in our community for this article and listening to why they donate and volunteer.  The resounding takeaway was, “they are doing it for all the right reasons”.  It was refreshing and I would encourage everyone who reads this article to look up each of the organizations listed and financially contribute or volunteer your time if you can.  In the words of PGT’s Debbie LaPinska – “make a meaningful difference”.

Written by Nate Yoder, SAMA Board Member and Marketing Director at Mullet’s Aluminum
May 2021