Giving back: Benco’s presence benefits the community
Benco Dental has been putting a smile on the face of the community and its customers for nearly 85 years.
The family-owned, Pittston-based distributor of dental products was recently recognized as a recipient of a 2014 Governor’s ImPAct award in the Community division thanks to its Community Boosters program.
(Team Pennsylvania Foundation is a co-founding partner and ongoing sponsor of the Governor’s ImPAct awards program, which recognizes and honors businesses and their employees who are making an imPAct in their communities.)
Benco expanded its support of community service with the creation of the booster program in 2009. Since then, community involvement has skyrocketed, according to George Rable, Vice President, Culture and People Department, Benco Dental.
“Management (the Cohen Family) said we want to support the volunteer and charitable efforts that are valued by our associates,” Rable said. “So, they decided to match whatever employees raise. It’s grown over the years, and things have really taken off the past three years.”
At the end of each calendar year, Benco conducts an employee survey to see which charities they would like to support in the coming year. In 2014, nearly 60 charities are in line to receive support from the company.
“There is quite a list that comes from the survey that covers so many charities,” said Julia Amendola, Talent Specialist, Culture and People Department. “It runs the gamut from pet organizations to health charities to those who want to give back to our military. We try and hit all of them throughout the year to spread the wealth.”
An employee favorite is the monthly Jeans Day, which actually occurs about 20 times a year, according to Florence Marchesano, Talent Specialist, Culture and People Department. Employees donate $1 to a charity for the right to wear jeans to work that day, which is then matched by the Cohen family.
“It is wildly popular,” Rable added. “You wouldn’t think that wearing jeans would be, but it is huge!”
With more than 400 professionally trained sales representatives and 300 factory-trained service technicians serving more than 30,000 customers at six locations across the country, funds do add up quickly.
“I think it is a good event,” Amendola said. “With it being a match, people do give more – especially if it is a charity they are passionate about.”
Community Service has been a long-standing tradition at Benco Dental, according to Rable. The company honored the first American woman, Lucy Hobbs, to graduate from dental school when it created The Lucy Hobbs Project.
The project is a national, long-term program to help the company, and women in dentistry, to use their collective voice as a force for change, Rable said. Benco facilitates this by hosting engaging programs virtually and at events throughout the country.
The project is divided into three categories: Innovation, Networking, and Give Back. Networking acts to encourage more women to get into dentistry; innovation seeks ways to create new technology for women dentists; and Give Back encompasses the company’s community service work.
The project actually extends beyond assisting women looking to get into dentistry, Rable added. The company raised $10,000 for Smiles for Success Foundation, a charity that provides dental services for women who want to get back into the workforce.
“When you go to an interview, you want to put your best foot forward and having poor dental work is not going to help you land a job,” Rable said. “You certainly need to bring more to the table than just a good smile, but it is important to help make a good first impression with a potential employer.”
Community Service is intrinsically ingrained in the culture at Benco. Service in 2013 exceeded the company goal of 750 hours by nearly 400 hours and associates are well on their way to shattering the 2014 goal of 1,350 hours, Marchesano said, having logged 1,343 hours as of mid-August.
Of the 1,300-plus hours, nearly 502 hours have been matched and donated to the Associate Emergency Fund, whose intent is to allow associates to donate a portion of their paid time off (PTO) balance to benefit fellow associates who have exhausted the balance of their PTO due to a family emergency or health-related issue.
A second component is the associate emergency fund, which provides funds through monetary donations to associates who have experienced a personal hardship. Funding for this program is provided by the proceeds from Benco’s various fundraising events.
“Like any other company, Benco needs to be profitable to pay wages and to grow,” Rable said, “but part of that expectation and culture of the company is that we give back to the community. Our employees subscribe to that philosophy. It starts at the top with the Cohen family, and they set the tone for all of this to happen.”
Founded in 1922 in Philadelphia by Benjamin Cohen, Benco Dental is the largest privately owned, full-service distributor of dental supplies, dental equipment, dental consulting and equipment services in the United States.