Employee-Driven Initiatives Generated $96,000 in Strong Year for Company Contributions to Programs Benefiting Nonprofits and Community Organizations
ELYRIA, Ohio – Feb. 8, 2018 – More than half a million dollars: That’s how much Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems contributed in 2017 through corporate grants and donations, employee sponsorships, and employee-driven efforts. The giving benefited nonprofits and community organizations across North America. Of the nearly $540,000 contributed, about $96,000 was generated through employee initiatives.
Among the activities were local-level projects driven by employees; community initiatives funded by Bendix; and programs co-funded by Knorr-Bremse Global Care. KB Global Care is a nonprofit organization founded by the Knorr-Bremse Group, Bendix’s parent company, to give those in need – through no fault of their own – a chance to lead more independent lives. Bendix employees maintained a central role in all the initiatives, continuing a long tradition of contributing time and talent to help the communities around them.
Bendix is the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety and braking solutions for commercial vehicles. The Munich, Germany-based Knorr-Bremse is the world’s preeminent manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles.
“These initiatives are possible only through the commitment of our employees and the support from Knorr-Bremse Global Care – for which we are proud and thankful,” said Maria Gutierrez, Bendix director of corporate responsibility and sustainability. “Core to our corporate values – and woven deep into our culture – is social responsibility. This commitment to others is exhibited daily at every level and location by men and women throughout the organization.”
A key instrument of the Bendix giving program is Get Involved!, which funds projects submitted by employees for nonprofit organizations with which they are involved. Each grant is for up to $3,500 per project. Funding covers material costs – operating costs are not included – and projects must be completed within six months of acquiring funds. In addition, projects must be in the areas of education, health promotion, or social cohesion, and be near a Bendix location.
Four Bendix locations across North America participated in the Get Involved! program in 2017, completing 52 projects with a total spending of $135,000. Northeast Ohio-area projects included support for Citizen’s Ambulance Service in Wakeman, Ohio, where emergency response equipment was purchased to provide training in the local community.
Among other Get Involved! projects were funding to support both the Junior Achievement programs in Huntington, Indiana, as well as the purchase of Girl Scouts equipment in Del Rio, Texas. Another project backed the Center for Courageous Kids in Scottsville, Kentucky, which provides support programs for families whose children have life-threatening diseases.
At the Corporate Level
Bendix’s corporate volunteering program continues to grow. The program, launched in 2015, allows for up to 16 hours of company paid time off for corporate-sponsored volunteering events.
The staple event at the company’s Elyria headquarters is the annual Habitat for Humanity on-site house build: Last May, more than 250 Bendix employees gathered in the company parking lot and helped build the walls for two houses that were donated to the Habitat for Humanity local chapter in Medina, Ohio. The Kalamazoo, Michigan, office also worked with its local Habitat for Humanity chapter, holding an off-site house-build event.
Bendix’s Acuña, Mexico, location held three volunteer events with Casas por Cristo – the nonprofit organization that is rebuilding 21 houses in Ciudad Acuña for victims of a 2015 tornado. Each house build takes four days and the help of 80 volunteers. For this effort, Bendix earned a Knorr-Bremse special distinction that included a EUR 10,000 monetary award. The monies were given back to the families in the form of vouchers for a local furniture store – with the invitation to purchase whatever they needed for their new houses.
For the year, Bendix totaled 5,500 volunteer hours, with over 935 employees participating in more than 56 events.
In December, the company was named among the recipients of the Medical Mutual Northeast Ohio Pillar Award for Community Service. Presented by Smart Business publications, the Pillar Awards honor Ohio businesses of all types and sizes that make outstanding contributions to their communities.
“Witnessing Bendix employees coming together for the good of their local communities is always inspiring – the enthusiasm they bring shows how important the opportunity to volunteer is to all of us,” Gutierrez said. “And while we’re lending a hand to our communities, Bendix team members develop deeper bonds with each other. By providing employee engagement and outreach opportunities, the company is also helping to improve morale and productivity.”
Along with local giving, Bendix contributed to two Knorr-Bremse Global Care projects in 2017.
With help from the Instituto de Capacitación para el Trabajo del Estado de Coahuila (ICATEC), Bendix also established a plan to help young people at risk in Acuña, a city of 181,000 people. The company has maintained growing manufacturing operations in Acuña since 1988. Bendix developed 12 courses on light manufacturing techniques – delivered during a four-week curriculum – and began teaching them free of charge to young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 who were not employed or enrolled in school. The program included a financial scholarship and employment at Bendix for those who finished the course successfully. Kicking off in September 2016 and ending in September 2017, the program benefited more than 220 youths in the community.
“The resulting impact in the community was extraordinary,” Gutierrez said. “Program statistics showed that by the end, 90 percent of the graduating youth were now productive and engaged in the community – whether working at Bendix, working at another company, or going back to school.”
The second project with co-funding from Global Care was in conjunction with a local technical vocational school in Acuña, Colegio de Estudios Científicos y Tecnológicos del Estado de Coahuila (CECyTEC). It includes the construction of a 3,000-square-foot industrial lab at the school campus in addition to an apprenticeship program at Bendix for four students in the industrial production vocational career path. The lab is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2018, and the apprenticeship program will add four additional students in the fall of 2018.
Knorr-Bremse Global Care was formed as a nonprofit in January 2005 to provide rapid, targeted support in the wake of the Southeast Asia tsunami disaster of December 26, 2004. Since its inception, Global Care has implemented more than 200 projects in 52 countries with a total funding of over EUR 15 million.
Global Care also aims to help increase the awareness of employees within the Knorr-Bremse Group of the need for greater social involvement, to encourage individuals to become active themselves, and – via Global Care projects – to offer unparalleled leadership and project management experience to its employees.
“It’s not an overstatement to say that taking part in Global Care projects is a highly rewarding – and often life-changing – experience,” Gutierrez said. “Bendix team members and the company as a whole are thankful for the opportunities, and grateful to be part of the Knorr-Bremse Group and Knorr-Bremse Global Care.”