Dec 5, 2016 | Leadership

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 our monthly CEE News this year that show how doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive.

1. Clifton’s Cafeteria, Los Angeles, CA, “The cafeteria of the golden rule”


Walk into Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Throwback Thursday and ordered a side of nostalgia. Opened in 1935, Clifton’s was billed as the world’s largest cafeteria. At the height of the Depression it became famous as “The Cafeteria of the Golden Rule.” Clifford Clinton, its proprietor, had a policy to never turn anyone away, whether they could pay for their hot meal or not. He wanted to give back to the community and feed the soul. [Read more]


2. Radio Flyer, Chicago, IL, “Well-structured onboarding program impacts culture”

Amy Bastuga’s first day at Radio Flyer started with a simple task – to onboard a new employee. That task evolved into a program that forever changed the culture of the 99-year-old iconic toy company. Nine years later, Bastuga, now Vice President of Human Resources, leads the company’s “New Flyer Orientation & Assimilation.” Since its inception, the program has had a direct impact on performance. Turnover dropped from 21% to 6%, and employee satisfaction scores reached 100% in 2015. [Read more]


3. Taylor Guitars, El Cajon, CA, “Passion for sustainability”


What do Neil Young, Taylor Swift, and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi have in common? They are all fans of Taylor Guitars. With Andy Powers helping with the day-to-day business, Bob Taylor is free to follow his passion for sustainability. With worldwide forest acreage dwindling, Taylor is committed to harvest wood in an environmentally friendly manner, while improving the quality of life for forest-dependent communities. [Read more]

4. Hunter Industries, San Marcos, CA, “People first”

When you think of manufacturing companies in America, visions of machines spitting out smoke among sooty-faced laborers may come to mind. That image dominated U.S. manufacturing companies for much of the 20th century. But, if you walk into Hunter Industries today, you might mistake it for a fitness club. Best known for its irrigation products, San Marcos, California-based, Hunter’s 1,500+ employees also create and distribute landscape lighting and custom manufacturing products in 125 countries around the world. The company prides itself on taking care of its people first. In turn, Hunter employees give back through loyalty, innovation, and community service. [Read more]

5. Warby Parker, New York, NY, “No company is an island”

You’re probably already familiar with TOMS Shoes One for One® program. For ever pair of shoes purchased, TOMS gives away a pair to a child in need. You may not be as familiar with Warby Parker, a hip eyewear company founded in 2009 by four Wharton Business School friends. Warby Parker was started with two goals in mind: 1) to disrupt the $65 billion eyewear industry by taking out the middle man and making eyeglasses affordable, and 2) to create a for-profit business that could have a massive positive impact on the world. [Read more]

6. Patagonia, Ventura, CA, “A new style of responsible business”

California-based Patagonia has corporate social responsibility (CSR) hardwired into its business model. This outdoor clothing and gear company has caring for the planet embedded in its mission statement: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” As Yvon Chouinard, the company’s founder wrote in his book Let My People Go Surfing, “Patagonia exists to challenge conventional wisdom and present a new style of responsible business.” [Read more]


7. Whirlpool’s “Real Whirled” program, Stevensville, MI “Giving employees a sense of camaraderie”

What would happen if we chose a diverse group of eight people in their late 20’s and early 30’s to live together in a condo for two months? That’s the question that launched MTV’s ‘The Real World’ series in 1992. It’s similar to the question that Jim Gilmore, author of The Experience Economy asked in 1998 when Whirlpool tasked him for help with flagging recruitment and high turnover in their sales department. While the approach may be unconventional, the results are impressive. [Read more]


8. McKinney Advisory Group, San Diego, CA “Servant leadership culture”

mckinney-alliance-logo-png-01To instill a passion for purpose, the best leaders in the world focus on aligning mission, culture, and brand to empower high performance and maximize employee engagement. One such leader is Damian McKinney, Founder and CEO of the San Diego-based corporate real estate firm, McKinney Advisory Group. Over the past five years, McKinney has dedicated himself to creating a culture of servant leadership in the firm. [Read more]


9. The Container Store, Coppell, TX, “The 1 = 3 rule”

The $35,000 gamble that founder and CEO Kip Tindell made in The Container Store in 1978 has really paid off – for him and for his employees. Today, the business has grown to an impressive 67 locations in the U.S. and reports annual sales of nearly $800 million. Equally impressive is the fact that Tindell has accomplished all this while paying his retail employees nearly twice the industry average. [Read more]


10. Broetje Orchards Prescott, WA, “Community based business model”

Ralph Broetje grew up on a small farm in Yakima, Washington, tending chickens and caring for the family orchard. When he was 15, he heard a missionary from India speak about the suffering of children in his country. Something sparked in Ralph that day — a dream to have his own orchard and help children in India. Like many teenage dreams, it faded. But after lying dormant for over 20 years, it began to take root. [Read more]


11. SC Johnson Racine, WI, “Goodwill of the people”

scjohnson_logoPledge, Windex, Raid, Drano, and even Ziplock Bags are just a few of the dozens of products that come from a single company in Racine — SC Johnson. Since 1886, SC Johnson has grown from a small parquet flooring company to a thriving global enterprise with products in virtually every country around the world. This year marks the company’s 100th anniversary. Not only can the Johnson family take pride in that, but also in 12 decades of employee-centric leadership practices. [Read more]


12. Bain & Company Boston, MA, “A Bainie never lets another Bainie fail”

“Best People, Best Culture, Best Training.” That’s what many employees say about Bain & Company, the Boston-based management consulting firm, founded in 1973. With consistent top national rankings on websites like Glassdoor and Vault we were curious to learn more about what employees loved about Bain & Company’s culture. Here are three employee responses from a 2015 internal survey on culture. [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!





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