Louisville Paving and Rogers Group Inc. Build Strong Community Ties
BY Therese Dunphy
Asphalt and aggregate pros know they need to maintain social license to operate within their communities, but a less well-known benefit is that employer-based volunteerism not only builds goodwill within the community itself but also may boost morale, improve employee retention, reduce worker stress and develop leadership skills among workers.
According to Deloitte’s “2017 Volunteerism Survey,” nearly nine out of 10 working Americans believe companies that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better work environment than companies that do not. “As the battle for talent continues, volunteering can be a strong leg-up on the competition for both prospective employees and employers,” said Mike Preston, chief talent officer for Deloitte LLP, in the survey’s executive summary. “Companies that create a culture committed to making an impact and to tapping into their employees’ sense of purpose have the ability to attract and retain the top talent.”
Simply put, employees want to work for companies that care.
Putting volunteerism into practice
In the Louisville area, Louisville Paving and Rogers Group Inc.—which are both well versed in volunteer programs—teamed up for a project that captured their hearts: working with a local community center to help rebuild Westonia Park in Portland, Kentucky.
The community center, known locally as Love City, is a passion project for owners Shawn and Inga Arvin. The duo earned master’s degrees from a private college in Louisville and were on the hunt for a fixer upper when they came across the community of Portland, part of the greater downtown Louisville area. They found a home they wanted to buy, but the seller had an interesting prerequisite. He would sell them the house, but they had to take the adjacent community center as well.
After a little thought, they were all in. The Arvins developed a mission for the community center: to love its neighbors and community and create a culture that empowers a movement of loving people as they are. After reopening the center with a fish fry that was attended by approximately 800 residents, the community center quickly became known as Love City. Its mission resonates within the community where nearly 40 percent of residents earn less than $15,000 per year and almost half don’t have a high school education.
Following their success with the community center, the Arvins adopted Westonia Park from the city and began rehabbing it, including updates of a soccer field and dilapidated basketball court. Aaron Johnson, P.E., a project manager for Louisville Paving, learned about the project through a ministry group at his local church. “They knew I had some construction experience and resources so they asked me if I could help,” he said.
Adding aggregate and asphalt
Louisville Paving jumped in and donated equipment for the grading work and provided labor and materials at cost. “We are heavily involved with a lot of different organizations,” Johnson said, noting that it is important to vet the entities requesting donations. “I always try to listen to everybody and do anything I can to help,” he said. “That’s just the way people are wired. They want to help; they want to be recognized and feel a sense of pride.”
The soccer field was regraded, and seed and straw were laid to create an attractively restored field. When it came to transforming a neglected half basketball court into a pristine new full court, Johnson reached out to Scott Harrison, Rogers Group’s sales manager for Central Kentucky and Ohio, asking the company to join the project.
“We are extremely active in our community,” Harrison said. “We take it very seriously to give back to the communities that we operate in.”
Rogers Group donated the base for the basketball court while Louisville Paving paved and painted the court. For its part, the community center added new hoops to the court. The project drew the attention of many of the locals, and became a positive event for all involved.
“We had people riding bikes and walking down to the park to watch,” Johnson recalled. “You could just tell that the neighbors were thrilled and there was a buzz around the community. That excitement just kind of spills over into everybody working on it and lets you know you’re doing the right thing for the right reason.”
“This was one of those projects that reaches out and grabs you,” Harrison added. “Any time you’re giving back and it’s something that impacts kids and families, it really boosts morale.”
Share the love
Once the project was completed, Harrison posted photos and information about the project on his social media accounts. “We’re connected with a lot of our customers and these organizations on LinkedIn and Facebook,” he said. In the post, he shared credit for the project with Aaron Johnson, Louisville Paving, the Arvins, Love City and Westonia Park.
Over time, regular posts about its community activities have garnered positive attention from customers, local businesses and area leaders. On one of Harrison’s posts, Anthony Piagentini, a Louisville councilman, commented: “You guys are the best. The Rogers Group defines what it is to be a great corporate citizen. Appreciate you all!”
“The relationships you build—through construction, through your clients, and through your community—make Louisville a special place,” Johnson said. “We have the resources and the means to pull things together and help the area out. That’s unheard of in a lot of communities. We’re blessed to have the resources to give back and the relationships with the Rogers Groups and Scott Harrisons of the world to make it a better place. You get the right motive and right hearts involved and great things happen.”
Therese Dunphy has covered the aggregates industry for 30 years. As owner of Stone Age Communications, she provides communications consulting services to help producers build strong relationships within the communities they serve. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.