Setting the Stage: Before the Transition to Carris Employee-Ownership and Governance
In the Long Term Plan, William H. (Bill) Carris described how while he was writing the plan for the transition of Carris Reels from the Carris Family to employee- ownership and governance, that he had a note posted on his book case ‘to improve the quality of life for our growing corporate community’.
Bill Carris’ father, Henry Carris started Carris Reels in 1951 with a strong customer orientation. Bill Carris carried that forward when he bought the company in 1980. In the Long Term Plan, he tied customer satisfaction and profit directly to the transition mission for that improvement as wages, employee-wealth building and contributions to the community.
While many businesses speak of profit, Bill Carris spoke of both relationship and responsibility within the local corporate community and its external communities:
• The term ‘quality of life’ means anything that serves to better oneself—be it spiritual emotional, physical or material betterment.
• ‘Growing’ means ever expanding. The company . . . will have growth as a goal so that . . . it can serve to have a positive effect on an ever-increasing number of people—an ever-expanding community of interconnected people.
• People and organizations involved with and affected by Carris Reels, such as our families, customers, suppliers, neighbors, civic leaders and fellow citizens are part of our Corporate Community. Community spirit and loyalty should prevail . . . [T]he most meaningful form of ‘membership’ in this corporate community should be employee-owners. As we, a community of companies, are united in our business and common interests toward the common good, so too should our dedication and concern encompass the outside community—those towns or districts where we live—(the general public) and thereby society as a whole . . . [T]o one degree or another, anyone could fall within the corporate community,
with corporate loyalty to its members being proportional to their own conceptual degree of ownership in the organization.
• There is an implied statement of the common good having the highest priority. Each individual is of equal importance, but in order to maximize the effect, the common good has to come first. Common good means that which is best for the most people as opposed to that which is best for an individual (Carris 1994: 6).