We Don’t Live To Breathe

A lot has been written (and spoken) lately on what is the “Why” of a business. For DEMDACO our Why centers around the word “Ought.” Author C.S. Lewis said human beings possess this curious sense of ought they can’t seem to get rid of. At DEMDACO our Purpose (our Why) is to pursue business the way it Ought to be. For us this Ought brings with it a sense of the responsibility we feel about the very nature of business. Why do businesses exist? To make money? Yes. But is there more? Is there more than a single bottom line?

DEMDACO distribution center in Edgerton, KS

For years business has primarily been viewed through the lens of a financial bottom line. What maximizes shareholder profit? Who are the stakeholders? What’s best for them? Everything else—employee salaries and benefits, charitable donations, involvement in the community, etc. is all filtered through this lens. If it doesn’t directly improve the bottom line then it gets jettisoned. There’s no wonder people have a hard time finding meaning in their work if it’s all about the numbers. Where’s the motivation? In a March 2018 Forbes article 10 Shocking Workplace Stats You Need To Know, number 10 states that 53% of Americans are unhappy at work. Along with a growing number of other companies we believe there’s a different way. A better way.

Using Lift the Spirit days to paint tiny homes for Veterans Community Project in Kansas City.

At DEMDACO, we’re committed to the notion that business is not solely a financial endeavor. It is first, and foremost, a human endeavor. This is what fuels our Mission to strive to Lift the Spirit in consumers, in each other, and in our communities. It’s what provides us a fuller view that the work we do includes designing, manufacturing, and selling our products, as well as the work we do with our partner organizations such as the Veterans Community Project or the Salvation Army. All this work helps us live out our mission.

This is why we see our business as a responsibility greater than a financial bottom line. We understand we have to be profitable, but it’s not the reason for our existence. It fuels our existence. It’s what Max De Pree, the former CEO of Hermann-Miller says about profit in his book Leadership Is an Art. “Profit is like air. We don’t live to breathe, but we need it to live.”

We believe our business exists to seek the flourishing of all who interact with us—not just those who purchase our products.

We see it as our responsibility.

Work or Just a Job?

Over the years I’ve often asked the question, “Can you name a song that views work positively?” Other than Snow White’s “Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho,” and “Whistle While You Work,” there really aren’t that many. Why is this?

We’ve heard many songs about work—just not many presenting a high view of it. Probably the most famous from previous generations is Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It!” This song sums up what is a reality for many people—work has little meaning and becomes nothing more than a job—merely a way to earn an income to survive. We believe meaningful work is an essential part of our lives, and it’s a necessary part of being human. We believe we’re made to work; to contribute and serve our communities.

Kathleen Land from Marketing

At DEMDACO, we strive to present a different view of work that’s rooted in our Mission to Lift the Spirit. Our hope is to participate in the meaningful moments of people’s lives. We don’t create these moments, we just hope  to make them a little better. We want to be there in times of Joy, Comfort, and Love.

For us, these moments of Joy, Comfort, and Love inspire all that we do. The products we produce. The customers we serve. Our involvement in communities. But most importantly, the way colleagues interact, collaborate, and work together.

Carrie Adams from Customer Care

We believe this broader view of work allows colleagues to find deeper meaning in their work. All of their work. For Carrie, her work as a volunteer with a local animal shelter is as important as her work in Customer Care. Kathleen, who occasionally volunteers as a camera operator at our local public television station, knows her time behind the camera is valued as much as her work in our Marketing Department.

Our Mission to Lift the Spirit supports and informs a holistic approach to vocation that includes opportunities to pursue and nurture the personal and community interests we value and hold dear. We all spend too much time at work, for it to just be about to do lists and deadlines. Especially if our work is to make someone’s day a little better. If we don’t feel a little Joy, Comfort, and Love in the workplace it will be evident in the products we make and how we interact with others. It’s that important.

Because we believe business is not primarily a financial endeavor, but first and foremost a human endeavor. We’ll continue to embrace the belief that what we do isn’t simply a job, but something meaningful that helps make the world a little bit brighter.

Perhaps we’ll also inspire some new songs.

Rightfully Sewn: Keep Moving the Needle

Rightfully Sewn is one of DEMDACO’s community partners here in Kansas City. They provide seamstress training for at-risk women in need of job skills. They’re doing great work to change lives and influence an industry.  We’re grateful to be able to partner with them in this work.

Rightfully Sewn’s mission is to provide seamstress training for at-risk women so they can thrive in a specialized workforce that will re-establish Kansas City as an epicenter of garment manufacturing, while at the same time, propel Kansas City fashion designers to market so they can supply the burgeoning demand for high-quality, American-produced garments.

Find out more about Rightfully Sewn and ways you can get involved by CLICKING HERE

Lifting the Spirits of Homeless Veterans

The Veterans Community Project is one of our community partners doing great work here in Kansas City.  VCP provides multiple services for homeless veterans to help give them a restart in life. VCP is best known for its tiny house village that provides homeless veterans with transitional housing.

Their Mission is:  The Veterans Community Project is dedicated to supporting every man and woman who took the oath for our country. We are determined to make a difference in the lives of homeless Veterans, a task accomplished by the community for the community.

We are building a specialized community of tiny-homes and onsite services to provide housing stability and address the underlying cause of the Veteran’s homelessness.

DEMDACO is grateful for the opportunity to partner with organizations like the Veterans Community Project who share a common goal in working to make the world a little bit better.  You can learn more about the Veterans Community Project by clicking HERE.

Gifting for the Greater Good

DEMDACO employees assemble Heart to Heart hygiene kits. Employees choose where to volunteer their time through Lift the Spirit days, a company-wide initiative to encourage and reflect a culture of giving back.

Gifts and Decorative Accessories‘ recent article Gifting for the Greater Good featured several companies in the gift industry, and the ways they give back.  DEMDACO was one of the companies that were featured.  Our mission is to Lift the Spirit.  Our Lift the Spirit days is one of the ways we’re living out our mission.  We’re grateful to have been included in this article.  (article is reprinted with permission)

Gifting for the Greater Good
Consumers care about more than just the quality of products, which is why buyers are increasingly interested in what a company supports through charitable initiatives and social responsibility, including how products are made and the impact on the environment.

by Becky Tyre

Carrie Adams is training to be a dog handler. As part of the Confidence Team at Wayside Waifs, a pet adoption center and rescue organization, Adams sits on a blanket in a dog kennel reading to shy, fearful dogs who are learning to trust humans. Most volunteers at the Kansas City facility are pet lovers who spend their days o helping shelter pets, but as a customer service supervisor at DEMDACO, Adams is able to utilize Lift the Spirit work days to volunteer instead of going into the office. According to Jonathan Jones, Cultural Conversation Leader, Lift the Spirit days replace paid time off and community time off with compensated volunteer days that better reflect the mission that working at DEMDACO is as much a human endeavor as a financial initiative.

The company’s Community Involvement Team organizes company-wide events that include an annual Giving Day, but the 160 employees schedule their Lift the Spirit days to give back to their communities through organizations of their choice. “DEMDACO gives us the opportunity to make it our mission to do more, give a little more of ourselves and encourages us to leave our mark in a positive way when and however we can,” Adams said.

Like DEMDACO, many vendors are opting for a more socially responsible work culture and product, but that’s only part of the formula for today’s buying world. Vendors and retailers must work together to make the most impact.