(Jeff Thompson, Courtesy of Jeff Thompson)
What do people do with the money they make from being in business? Let's dive into that question.
Businesses usually exist for reasons other than just making money. Making money is a necessity to keep the business going, but there is probably another reason "why" a business exists.
I encountered one of the most clearly defined reasons "why" a business exists in my recent conversation with Jeff Thompson of CI Express from Kennewick, Washington. Jeff is the subject of our most recent Success Story, and the interview on our website is worth a read. You may even be inspired.
CI Express is part of a greater mission.
CI Express is a FedEx Ground CSP and the newest business to join Columbia Industries’ lineup of commercial services that help support their community's nonprofit programs. Other for-profit companies under the Columbia Industries umbrella are CI Information Management, CI Solutions, Paradise Bottled Water, and Round Table Pizza.
Columbia Industries supports and empowers individuals with disabilities and other challenges in order to help them achieve personal success and community engagement. They provide employment services, specialized job training, career opportunities and centers for social enrichment and community resources. Their successful commercial enterprises fuel that mission.
Columbia Industries started helping people in 1963 as the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Benton and Franklin Counties. The purpose for forming the non-profit agency was clear: to promote the general welfare of persons with cerebral palsy and other handicaps.
Their focus on helping people with disabilities and other challenges hasn't changed since 1963. The slogan that appears in their logo, “Enrich. Empower. Respect.” reflects their why to everyone who plays a part in their organization.
In 1981, they adopted the name Columbia Industries to reflect their growth over the previous 18 years. Today, they serve hundreds of people each year.
The for-profit businesses have allowed Columbia Industries to create a variety of business ventures for their clients. Some of these programs over the years have included: laundry services, a wood shop, automobile detailing, a wine storage facility, gift box assembly and Shop CI, a thrift store where clients could earn a paycheck by organizing donations, pricing items to sell, greeting customers and performing many other typical retail-related job tasks. It's a rewarding but challenging concept.
And you'd be mistaken to think that simply stating your business' "why" makes how to run a business easier. Honestly, challenges and problems don't magically disappear because a business is supporting a great cause. In fact, the reason for my introduction to Jeff is because he reached out to eTruckBiz for assistance.
The CI Express team stood up in November 2019 on the doorstep of their first peak season. Despite knowing their "why", they were not experts on "how" to run an ISP operation. Peak 2019 was a miserable experience for everyone at CI Express. An eTruckBiz customer in Idaho referred Thompson to the Director of eTruckBiz Consulting & Training (Dave Bowen) who arrived on-site in January 2020.
Dave performed an on-site evaluation with CI Express management in a systematic process to improve the operation. This not only enabled a much more positive Peak experience in 2020, but CI Express also utilized the negotiation services of eTruckBiz in October 2020 to improve their contract.
These efforts enabled CI Express to actually contribute to Columbia Industries' bottom line in 2020 instead of weighing it down as happened the year prior.
Now, Thompson and his team are ready to expand their operations in 2021 which will support even more community services. BC's and drivers are fully informed about what to do, how to do it better, and why their jobs matter. It's really an awesome story that is an example of how businesses can make our communities better places with the right focus.
Businesses that understand and articulate why they exist are in a better position to recruit, hire, train and manage people working for a greater cause. And we at eTruckBiz are honored that our ability to help CI Express become more efficient, effective and profitable will support their worthwhile mission. To read the full Profile in Profitability, click the button below.