Pip­ing in the Good

City Plumb­ing, Heat­ing & Elec­tric keeps char­i­ta­ble aid flow­ing

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Spotlight on -

Ev­ery suc­cess­ful busi­ness owes its well-be­ing to its cus­tomers, and in­vest­ing in our com­mu­nity is a great way to give back to those who have helped sup­port our busi­ness,” says Rick Bonte, one of three own­ers of City Plumb­ing, Heat­ing & Elec­tric.

Each month, his busi­ness do­nates $1,150 to a char­ity or non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion in Gar­land County.

“This is a very easy thing for us. It is just an­other way for us to help peo­ple and to help the peo­ple who are help­ing oth­ers in the com­mu­nity,” said El­wen Guthrie, an­other of the com­pany’s own­ers.

The idea of cre­at­ing a giv­ing pro­gram came from a mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle the own­ers read in Septem­ber 2009.

“There was an ar­ti­cle in Com­pass, the mag­a­zine for Suc­cess Group In­ter­na­tional,” Bonte said. “Non­prof­its re­ally needed help and some were shut­ting down be­cause times were tough.”

Where the money was go­ing was a de­ci­sion left up to the en­tire com­pany.

“Leav­ing it up to the em­ploy­ees seemed like the thing to do,” Bonte said.

One or twice a month, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from a non­profit ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tion will come to a com­pany meet­ing.

Bonte said the em­ploy­ees ap­pre­ci­ate the chance to take part in the pro­gram.

“We had a trainer that gave ev­ery­one an as­sign­ment once. He wanted the em­ploy­ees to tell why they en­joyed work­ing here,” Bonte said. “We were sur­prised and very proud to learn that hav­ing a voice in the giv­ing was some­thing that made them proud.”

Bonte read­ily ad­mits that City Plumb­ing’s ef­forts to help char­i­ties and aid or­ga­ni­za­tions have earned it the good­will of the com­mu­nity, and in turn, have helped bring in busi­ness.

Guthrie said the pro­gram is more ef­fec­tive with the em­ploy­ees in­volved. She said it is much more than just giv­ing the money.

“We took it to the em­ploy­ees be­cause we wanted them to see the im­por­tant things go­ing on in the com­mu­nity and learn about the non­prof­its, to learn what they do for peo­ple,” Guthrie said. “We wanted them to buy into it.”

She said the in­for­ma­tion also goes back into the com­mu­nity.

“When our peo­ple are do­ing work in some­one’s home, they of­ten talk about the giv­ing we have done, and that’s re­ally good for us,” said Guthrie.

When City Plumb­ing started its giv­ing pro­gram, the amount changed ev­ery month.

“We charge a ser­vice fee of $49 for ev­ery job we do, and we were giv­ing $10 of that fee for the gift fund,” Bonte said. “When we bought a heat­ing and air-conditioning com­pany, and it be­came harder to keep up with the ser­vice fees, we came up with the aver­age we had been giv­ing, which was $1,150, and now we give that amount each month.”

The com­pany’s first gift was in Novem­ber 2009 to the Char­i­ta­ble Chris­tian Med­i­cal Clinic, which pro­vides health care help to those in Hot Springs who have no health in­sur­ance and can­not af­ford to see a doc­tor or pur­chase med­i­ca­tion.

Since then, the com­pany has given 45 monthly gifts. The lat­est gift went to the Arkansas Food Bank to be used in Gar­land County, which put their to­tal giv­ing over the $50,000 mark, a source of pride for their em­ploy­ees.

Ser­vice Tech Ja­son Gan­non said it is “a good feel­ing to be a part of a com­pany that cares about where you work and live. It makes you feel good about your­self know­ing that we can help where we can.”

“Ini­tially when they in­tro­duced the idea we didn’t know what to ex­pect. It’s not a pub­lic­ity stunt, we get to hear the sto­ries about how they are im­prov­ing our com­mu­nity. Now we have a sense of pride and have a more per­sonal idea about how we are im­pact­ing them as well,” said dis­patcher Les­lie Hen­der­son.

Over­all, the own­ers and em­ploy­ees feel a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity to their com­mu­nity and to con­tinue the pro­gram.

“Our com­mu­nity re­lies on busi­nesses like us,” said Guthrie. “It helps us as well. It en­gages our em­ploy­ees and en­cour­ages us to try to do more than help fi­nan­cially. We re­ally want ev­ery­one to be a part of what we are do­ing.”

And the group has no plans on slow­ing down.

“It’s a part of us. When you call us, when you pay us, you are help­ing th­ese or­ga­ni­za­tions that do so much for all of us,” said Bonte. “We hope to see $100,000.”

Rick Bonte, El­wen Guthrie and Ron Car­roll help shape the char­i­ta­ble giv­ing ef­forts at City Plumb­ing, Heat­ing & Elec­tric.

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