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100 Years of Gratitude

By Ann Miller

March 25, 2019

As Liberty Diversified International (LDI) approached its 100th anniversary in 2018, it was clear that a very special celebration was in order. However, somehow a huge cake, golf tournament, fireworks display, or fancy customer reception didn’t seem like us. As a fourth-generation family-owned business, it wasn’t lost on us that there were a lot of people responsible for keeping the company around for a century. So, we decided to spend our entire year on a quest to thank those people.

We put gratitude at the center of everything we did in 2018, and remarkable things began to happen—and are still happening as we launch into the next century.

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The Great Gratitude Tour stop at LDI’s Illinois plant.

Every activity we engaged in as a company during this special year had two main goals: 1) to show our gratitude to a customer, employee, community partner, or unsung hero, and 2) to inspire people to pay forward their own gratitude. We launched our gratitude movement around Thanksgiving in 2017, seeing this special holiday as the perfect opportunity to elevate gratitude in entirely new ways. We rallied around three major efforts this year to put gratitude on steroids, celebrating our century-old legacy and launching us into the next 100 years.

  1. Boxes of Gratitude: Every quarter, we designed creative boxes to send to our customers, employees, and community partners with items inside that expressed our gratitude and challenged them to pass it on. We included blank pay-it-forward checks, thank-you notes, gratitude games, and other mementos to put gratitude on their radar. Our list of nearly 10,000 recipients learned to expect this gratitude gesture every quarter. They knew that thanks was coming in a very special way—and they knew they had a responsibility to extend that thanks to somebody in their own lives. Watching this gratitude movement spread like wildfire put our faith back in humanity and the power of appreciation.
  2. The Great Gratitude Tour: In July 2018, family members, employees, customers, and community partners loaded a gratitude bus and traveled the country for 21 days in search of unsung heroes to thank. We asked more than 200 “gratitude ambassadors” to join this tour with us, roll up their sleeves, and give back to the communities that make our company so strong. At each of our 18 stops, we identified different unsung heroes who give so much to our world but often go unappreciated. We treated them to food and friendship and left them with a Gratitude Grant to continue making their mark on their world. More than $1 million was awarded through this effort, recognizing unsung heroes such as garbage haulers, teachers, cancer researchers, and youth sports coaches, just to name a few.
  3. Gratitude Education: LDI acknowledged that to truly ignite a gratitude movement, we needed to teach the next generation about gratitude. So, we set out to reach 18,000 youths this school year with a 30-minute gratitude education curriculum taught by our own employees. Kids learned the art of recognizing unsung heroes in their own lives, and how to write a proper, old-fashioned thank-you note to ensure these heroes get the appreciation they deserve. We have entered hundreds of classrooms, teaching kids ages 3–18 about the power of thank you. Our employees have shared that it is the most rewarding volunteer work they have ever been privileged to do—and on company time. All LDI employees are expected to give at least eight hours of company-paid time to giving back to their communities through efforts such as this.

Good people with good values—they’re what got us here to 100, and they’re what will propel us into the next 100.

Companies That Do Good, Do Well

Of course, giving back, extending gratitude, and volunteering are the right things to do. But at LDI, we believe that doing good is the reason we have stayed in business for a century. Our caring values are not only a reflection of our 2,000-plus LDI family members, but they also help us attract customers who also put a value on impacting the world in meaningful ways. They build stronger communities in which our business can thrive. They help us attract top-notch talent who value volunteerism and philanthropy. Good people with good values—they’re what got us here to 100, and they’re what will propel us into the next 100.

Our second-generation company leader Ben Fiterman once said, “If you take care of your people, and you take care of your customers, everything else takes care of itself.”

A simple strategy, but one that has kept us in business for a century now.

Strong financials and stellar products may make good companies, but we believe that great companies come from strong values, a spirit of giving back, and a commitment to appreciating the underappreciated.

Will You Join Us?

We want to create a gratitude movement that spreads like wildfire. At LDI, we believe the industries we participate in have real power to ignite this effort and that our world could use a bit more gratitude right now. We are showing appreciation for the blessings we have, the people in our lives, the customers who keep the lights on, the employees who give us their hearts and minds, and the unsung heroes who surround us.

AICC is a community filled with companies that care—it’s why we choose to associate with all of you. How will you empower your organization to show more gratitude? Strong financials and stellar products may make good companies, but we believe that great companies come from strong values, a spirit of giving back, and a commitment to appreciating the underappreciated.

Who will you give thanks to this year? The cashier who bags your groceries? The courier who delivered an important package just in time? The Little League coach who believes in those kids on the field and lets them know it? The waste hauler who takes your garbage away every Tuesday? Unsung heroes are all around us, and they’re not hard to find if we look.

Please help us look. Help us thank. And help our industry be the one that makes gratitude cool again. To join us, visit www.boxesofgratitude.com.


width=150Ann Miller is LDI’s centennial celebration project lead. She can be reached at annmiller@libertydiversified.com.