Ronald Sandmeyer Jr., president of the Sandmeyer Steel Company, accepted the 2019 Member Company of the Year Award at the World Trade Center of Philadelphia’s 17th Annual World Trade Centers Day on May 15, 2019.
For more than 65 years, his company has been the leading producer of stainless steel and nickel alloy plate products in North America, with headquarters in Philadelphia and customers around the world.
We asked Ron to speak about his organization, their commitment to the nonprofit Feast of Justice, and his decision to join the Satell Institute.
Sandmeyer’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility
“The company is committed to making significant contributions to strengthen communities and support employee engagement in the communities where they live and work,” Sandmeyer says.
“For many years, we supported a nonprofit with a generous annual contribution, but we never made a pledge beyond the one-year commitment. Of course, that meant that our nonprofit couldn’t do any long-range planning, because they never knew whether our commitment would be renewed.”
The importance of long-range planning, as advocated by the Satell Institute
“How could I run my business based on revenues for one year? Nonprofits must do some form of long-range planning. I was making it very difficult for our nonprofit to make future commitments. They never really knew how long our commitment to them would be.
When we became members of the Satell Institute, we came to understand the importance of a four-year commitment. Our nonprofit is now able to make better long-range plans, realizing that our support will be there for at least four years.”
What attracted you to become a member of the Satell Institute?
A member of our Board of Directors told me about the Satell Institute and invited me to a meeting. I was impressed immediately with the enthusiasm of Ed Satell, who founded the Institute, and its mission. I joined immediately after that first meeting and consider it one of the best decisions I made. The Satell Institute truly believes in a mission of social good and purpose and to make the world a better place. I think any company with a CSR program, or planning one, would benefit from membership in the Satell Institute.
Your company has been involved in philanthropy since it was founded in 1952. Why did you feel the need to become a member of the Satell Institute?
I’m involved in a very competitive business that is getting more complex every day, with tariffs and increased competition. Yes, our company has always believed in giving back. But we don’t have the time or the resources to maximize our corporate responsibility efforts. The Satell Institute gives us the research we need to help us make the best decisions in selecting and working with nonprofits. All the Institute asks for in return is a $25,000 commitment for four years. The nonprofit we selected gets 100% of the contribution, since there are no administrative costs from the Satell Institute.
Do you think it is important to connect with your peers who are also running Corporate Social Responsibility programs?
One of the great benefits of the Satell Institute is the opportunity it gives to meet with other CEOs who are dedicated to the principles of CSR. There’s something very positive about meeting with other CEOs and exchanging ideas and information. It makes me realize that together we can make a difference.
CEO-to-CEO connections are among the many benefits of Satell Institute membership. While every company and program is different, my peers’ stories and experiences are still valuable in offering lessons and inspiring new ideas. I’m also amazed at the quality of the CEOs who are members of the Satell Institute. One thing is for certain – they are doers, not talkers.
Why do you think it’s so essential for companies to become involved in CSR?
There is so much negative press about corporate America only caring about the bottom line and returning the most money to investors. Our company has supported charities continually from the time my grandfather, Paul Sandmeyer, started the company in 1952.
The Satell Institute offers structure and information on how we can build better communities through corporate-nonprofit partnerships. Here at Sandmeyer we take Corporate Social Responsibility very seriously and became members of the Satell Institute to maximize our contributions. It is simply the right thing to do for our company, our employees and the community.
Employees appreciate companies that sponsor CSR programs. How are you communicating your program to employees?
We actively involve our employees in the nonprofit we chose to support. Some of them volunteer and serve food to the poor who are fed by our charity. We also offer paid time off for employees who want to volunteer at our nonprofit. We share announcements and success stories about employee participation in our nonprofit program. Employee involvement can be rewarding for the company, the nonprofit and the person volunteering.
Are your customers aware of your participation in CSR?
I understand the benefits companies receive when customers are aware of their involvement. We have never gone out of our way to inform them. At this point, we’re not considering any formal program. It could be effective if we had some way of demonstrating our membership in the Satell Institute.
What do you consider to be the value of the Satell Institute?
The notion that business should contribute to the social good is not new. We have been doing it for a number of years prior to our membership in the Satell Institute. As members, we access to the latest research on CSR programs. We have the freedom to choose our own nonprofit and there is no charge for membership. One hundred percent of our contribution goes to the nonprofit of our choice.
Satell Institute Growth Continues!
Membership at SI continues to grow with great companies and private foundations choosing to support Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Our members recognize a collective force can do more for communities than any organization can do on its own.
This week we welcome the following new member:
For more than 130 years, Aqua America has worked to protect and provide water resources for hundreds of communities within the United States. The company is a strong advocate for water as earth’s most essential resource. Aqua is dedicated to giving back to the communities in which they operate, forming valuable partnerships with community-based nonprofit organizations. Currently the company serves more than three million people in eight states.