What makes a company a good corporate citizen? Some would say sponsoring free educational programs that benefit the community. Some might point to donating time and money to local non-profit organizations. Others may consider offering the use of their facilities to groups that have no other place to meet.
Actually, it can be all of these and more. But recenty, Steinhafel’s Furniture took it one step further, and in so doing, showed us all something about being good citizens as well as good businesses.
When Steinhafel’s, a third-generation family-owned company, purchased the assets of Evans Mattress and Furniture Co., also a third-generation locally owned company that was closing its doors, it found the right way to blend solid business decision-making with doing what is right for the community.
Steinhafel’s recognized that purchasing machinery means nothing unless you have top notch people to operate it. So Steinhafel’s also hired Evans’ mattress-crafting staff to lead the way in developing quality products for the company’s entry into the factory-direct market.
Jeff Tennyson, a third-generation member of the Evans family who will supervise mattress crafting for Steinhafel’s, likes to point out that being part of Steinhafel’s will allow his people to continue their passion … building quality mattresses by hand, one at a time, and making them available to a larger audience.
Now, those may seem like only six jobs to you and me, but they are six Milwaukee area jobs that are going to remain Milwaukee area jobs. They represent six families who won’t need to worry about where their next meal is coming from or how to pay the mortgage. These jobs represent children who will be able to continue living in this community, getting their education here and, perhaps, working here someday in the future. In short, this isn’t a case of one company buying another, and then taking the jobs elsewhere.
And there is more. Since Evans primarily supplied its own single store in the past, Steinhafel’s will need to hire dozens more mattress-crafters to work in its New Berlin facility in order to provide mattresses for its own six stores in the area. More jobs for more families. More people with fewer worries about their future.
To be sure, the purchase was a smart move by Steinhafel’s. Already Wisconsin’s largest mattress retail store, Steinhafel’s has now positioned itself to further its market share. But perhaps the most important point is that the company did it in a way that serves the greater Milwaukee community and greater Milwaukee people. All businesses like to search for "win-win" situations, and Steinhafel’s has clearly accomplished just that.
All of our local good corporate citizens deserve a tip of the hat for what they do. In this case, Steinhafel’s deserves recognition for caring about people as much as business.
Steve Gardner is the director of marketing for the Sleep Wellness Institute in West Allis.