When corporations give back to the community sometimes it’s out of a specific mission statement. Maybe a company executive has an organization he or she is devoted to, or it might be a desire to set an example for employees to give back.
At American Residential Services, there isn’t a formal mission statement. “It’s ingrained in the culture,” said Vimala Ingram, Communications Director for ARS/Rescue Rooter. “We’re in the business of serving. Day to day we serve our customers by rescuing them from their plumbing, heating, and air issues. We continuously strive for exceptional customer service. Because we have a service-centric culture, it’s easy to parlay that into community service.”
ARS employs some 130 people in its corporate office on Ridgeway Loop in East Memphis. ARS began as a part of Memphis-based The ServiceMaster Co. The business spun off and now is its own entity employing 5,500 people in locations spanning 22 states. ARS is the parent company of several brands, including Conway Services.
ARS is a national company but Memphis is its hub, where key decisions are made. And that’s why the company gives back in Memphis, whether it’s by sponsoring an event or high school sports program. “Our employees are part of our community in Memphis,” Ingram said. “That’s why it’s important to give back to the community. It’s imperative. We see the return on investment, but it also boosts employee morale to show them we’re playing an integral role in the community and giving back.”
ARS is involved in the community via a few categories. There are areas for direct participation from employees, either from the corporate office or individual entities such as Conway Services.
One way Conway Services gives back is through its Conway Cares program. The company has teamed up with WMC-TV Channel 5 and Carrier Corp. of Collierville to donate and install a complete heating and air system for four families throughout the year.
Every quarter, nominations of deserving individuals are made on WMC’s Facebook page and website. Five finalists are selected and the community votes on winners. One winner is chosen every three months.
“It’s my favorite thing I’ve been involved in,” said Kayla Hillhouse, Marketing Director for Conway Services. “It’s really a good thing to give back to families.”
The company has volunteer efforts, including those grassroots initiatives that are organized by employees. “Sometimes it’s important that efforts aren’t structured by an executive team that solely directs the mission,” Ingram said. Night to Shine is one of those examples of efforts driven by employees, from the ground up. As a corporation, ARS sponsors the Tim Tebow Foundation, which brings faith, hope and love to those in need. That includes giving back to communities, especially to individuals of special needs. Night to Shine is a prom event that is sponsored by the Tebow Foundation and hosted by churches across the world. For one night over Valentine’s weekend, a prom night for people of special needs provides a unique experience.
Dave Slott, President and COO of ARS, said, “Although we give back to our communities in many ways, this is an unprecedented event because we are supporting one cause, for one night, from coast to coast. This is not just about a company donating money to a non-profit. The Tim Tebow Foundation is very much part of our ARS family. We are humbled by our employees who are going above and beyond to support this wonderful mission.”
Since TTF’s inception in 2009, ARS has been a platinum sponsor of the foundation’s annual marquee fundraiser. “Each year our executive team has participated in the TTF Celebrity Gala & Golf Classic. Last year alone, this event raised 1.5 million dollars for TTF’s outreach programs. We are looking forward to what we can accomplish as a group this year,” said Don Karnes, CEO of ARS.
“Night to Shine guests get to feel like celebrities walking in on the red carpet,” Ingram said. “There is friendly paparazzi cheering them on. They are all crowned kings and queens of prom at the outset of the event. They get to have a fun night.” Ingram spearheads the coordination of volunteer efforts for the event that is held at Hope Presbyterian Church. ARS and Conway Services sponsored the red carpet and donated a photo booth.
And some of the ARS employees served as buddies, meaning they escorted the guests into the event and showed them and their family members a good time. Because ARS is a national company, the effort includes some of its service centers in other markets teaming up with churches to sponsor the event. That effort will only grow, if the trends are proof. Last year there were about 45 churches across the country holding Night to Shine events. This year, there are 200 across seven countries.
Other efforts at ARS include getting employees involved with the collection of toys and books for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. ARS also has used a contest to encourage employees to collect donations for the Salvation Army emergency shelter.
Whether it’s giving money to Juvenile Diabetes Research or sponsoring the ARS Rescue Rooter Network’s National Hoopfest, every effort matters when it comes to effecting change in the community.