AB May: Helping People Thrive

At DEMDACO our Mission is to strive to Lift the Spirit in consumers, in each other, and in our communities.  As such we’re also always looking for other companies and organizations who share a common view of work and the world.  One of these companies is AB May here in Kansas City.

AB May is a home service provider.  They’re in the heating, cooling, electrical, and plumbing industry, but their reach is far beyond appliances.  Their Mission: Exceptional Home Service.  Their Vision: Helping People Thrive.

Last month we sat down with Shellie O’Dell, their Contact Center Manager, to hear some of their stories.

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.