Piping in the Good
City Plumbing, Heating & Electric keeps charitable aid flowing
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.