The strongest organizations in the world achieve sustainable success largely because they understand the value of culture as a competitive advantage. Whether you nurture it or not, you have a culture. It may be empowering or toxic. Either way, the results are showing up on your bottom line.

Here are the 12 companies we featured in CEE News this year that show how doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive.

1. Dancing Deer Baking Company, Hyde Park, MA, “Scratch-Baked Goodness to the Community”

Dancing Deer Baking Company has flourished since introducing its first cookie in 1994 and so has the community of Hyde Park, Massachusettes. The bakery hires chronically unemployed individuals in the community and dedicates a portion of its profits to local development projects. Dancing Deer has won national recognition for its delicious baked goods, its sustainable business practices, and its community impact initiatives. [Read more]

 

2. Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, Vista, CA, “All-One”

 

Open a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Liquid Soap, and you’ll be taking part of a story that dates back over 150 years. It’s a story that began with a family of soapmakers in the Jewish community of Heilbronn, Germany. The story includes the holocaust, an escape from a Chicago mental institution, an attempted crucifixion on a bridge in 1945 Woodstock, and, well, it’s a complex epic that has passed through five generations of the Bronner family. [Read more]

 

3. Masonite, Tampa, FL, “Helping people walk through walls”Not many American companies today can trace their history back for 92 years, or link to inventor Thomas Edison. But, Masonite, a publicly-traded company (NYSE: DOOR) can follow its roots back to Laurel, Mississippi, and its founder William H. Mason, an apprentice of Thomas Edison. [Read more]

 

4. Stonyfield, Londonderry, NH, “Yogurt on a mission

 

While Stonyfield is best known for making yogurt, yogurt wasn’t the way the founders of Stonyfield thought they’d change the world. In 1983, co-founders Samuel Kaymen and Gary Hirshberg were trying to help family farms survive, protect the environment, and keep food healthy through their nonprofit organic farming school. [Read more]

 

5. Igloo Products Corp., Katy, TX, “Culture of commitment”

If you’ve ever gone on a family picnic, packed a boat for a day of fishing, or brought drinks to keep the soccer team hydrated, there’s a good chance an Igloo® ice chest was involved. Igloo chests, along with the iconic red and white coolers, are just two of more than 550 products made by the 70-year old Igloo Products Corporation in Katy, Texas, just west of Houston. [Read more]

 

6. W.L. Gore and Associates, Newark, DE, “Conscious culture”

 

Imagine operating a manufacturing company with no core product, no bosses, and a democratically-elected CEO. How long do you think it would survive? [Read more]

 

7. Sticker Giant Longmont, CO, “Open book management”

 

One political bumper sticker based on the indecision of the Bush/Gore presidential election in 2000. That’s how CEO John Fischer launched StickerGiant from his basement 17 years ago. Today, the company employees nearly 40 people and processes about 18 miles of sticker material every week. [Read more]

 

8. TGI Fridays, Dallas, TX, “The gift of time”

 

You have to hand it to a company that has survived for five decades, fought off imitators, and endured shaming for asking its employees to wear flair. The chain’s signature look – a combination of Antiques Roadshow and Hoarders – actually started in 1965 as one of New York’s City’s first singles bars. [Read more]

 

9. Great Little Box Company, Richmond, BC, “Big Outrageous Xtravaganza (BOX) Goals”

 

For 35 years, Canadian-based Great Little Box Company has created an equally great little culture. What started as a three-person shop in 1982, has grown to 225 employees in locations across British Columbia and Vancouver, Washington. [Read more]

 

10. Meltwater, San Francisco, CA, “MER values”

 

The year was 2001, just after the dotcom bubble burst. Jorn Lyseggen had a big idea for a new business, a coffee machine, some used furniture, and some borrowed office space in a Norwegian shipyard shack. [Read more]

 

11. SEMCO Partners, São Paulo, Brazil, “Big company with (almost) no rules”

 

If your employees could vote you in or out as their leader, would you keep your position?

That was just one of the many questions that Ricardo Semler started to ask when he went to work for his father’s company, SEMCO Partners, in the late 1970’s. [Read more]

 

12. Thinking Putty, Philadelphia, PA, “Shaping culture one tin at a time”

If you ask Aaron Muderick what he does for a living, he’s likely to say, “Professional Kid”. Muderick, a fidgety computer scientist, was constantly playing with Silly Putty while thinking at work. One day, he borrowed some textbooks from a friend who had just completed her Ph.D. in chemistry. He learned enough from the borrowed books to teach himself how to invent what he calls “Thinking Putty”. [Read more]

 

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CEE News is designed to help you with the challenges you face every day by sharing infographics, white papers, best practices, and spotlighting businesses that are getting it right. I hope you’ll subscribe to CEE News and it becomes a resource that continually adds value to your walk as a leader. If I can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out!