As we enter the Christmas season, I think we’re all filled with a spirit of giving. I know there are so many ways in which each of us, both personally and through our businesses, support those around us. Whether it is offering additional support to one of our employees who need it or giving to one of the many different national, regional or local philanthropic organizations, there are a number of ways to show we care.
At Sapp Bros., we have always started by focusing on our employees. In addition to offering a 401(k), profit sharing and tuition assistance, we try to help when we hear of a need. It might be something as simple as helping someone with payroll during a difficult time, which can mean the world to an employee who is struggling. Nothing shows them that you care like when you stop to help one who is in need.
Several years ago, the great Missouri River flooded and we had to close one of our locations for almost 120 days. We still managed to pay our employees a percentage of what they would have earned and they were also able to collect unemployment. It wasn’t a cheap endeavor, but we knew we had to do it to keep our people. No one said it better than Andrew Carnegie, “Take away my people but leave my factories and soon grass will grow on the factory floors . . . Take away my factories and leave my people, soon we will have new and better factories.”
We also take time to evaluate every request we receive from organizations within the community, and we give the local managers some latitude up to a certain amount. There are so many good causes, and each of us has to decide for ourselves which ones to support.
Sometimes, the difficult piece is knowing how to help someone in the most appropriate way. Working with a structured charity can provide a way to support causes that are important to you. This year, Sapp Bros. worked with the Wounded Warriors Family Support, raising $30,000 for those that were injured while serving our country. We have also been able to support the St. Christopher Fund by raising funds that help drivers and their families.
I’d like to encourage all operators to consider a year-end gift to the NATSO Foundation, which provides the industry with safety initiatives, including a partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children to offer Amber Alerts and the How Truckstops Help People online learning initiative. The NATSO Foundation also provides programs and products aimed at strengthening travel plazas’ ability to meet the needs of the traveling public through improved operational performance and business planning.
The Bill Moon Scholarship program is also a wonderful charity that provides scholarships to truckstop and travel plaza employees and their dependents. For nearly 20 years the Bill Moon Scholarship Program has been changing lives and has awarded more than $300,000 in scholarships.
No matter how you give, I agree with Tom Heinz, past chairman of NATSO, who encouraged operators to tell others about the good they are doing. During The NATSO Show 2015, Heinz challenged members to enhance the image of our industry by spreading the word about all of the good that we do. Let’s continue that this year as we bring 2016 to an end. We shouldn’t be shy about telling others how we help those around us.
I’d love to hear your stories about how you support your communities. Share what you’re doing on NATSO’s Facebook page or post a comment on the blog.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your chairman!
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