A few months back, Jayne Russell who is Manager of Public Relations for The Co-operatorstold me about a new concept for ROI that she invented called Return on Integrity. I loved the idea. This week I was reminded of the power of ROI in an unlikely setting:an LCBO cooking classthat was taught by Cynthia Beretta of Beretta Organic Farms.
Cynthia’s class featured organic meats from her company’s farm. And while the organic beef, barley and mushroom soup, and oven-roasted prime rib was spectacular, I found the story of Beretta to be the most remarkable part of the evening.
In nutshell, shorty after they established their farm in 1993, their barn burned to the ground taking with it all their livestock, equipment and resources. The loss was comprehensive and total. However, on April 29, 1996 70 Mennonite families from the Old Order Mennonite community built them a new barn – at no cost. Here’s a link to a video of the barn raising.
In their own words: “Compensation is the true lesson of our story and brings us to where we are today as both a family and farmers. The understanding of paying forward this ultimate gift was inherent in all of the subtleties that April 29th brought. We were back on our feet as farmers for a reason. We were helped by a community because they believed it was the right thing to do. Compelling us to move forward, our gratitude is deep within the wholesome food we bring to your table as we believe it is the right thing to do for you and your family. Providing meats with exceptional health and animal care is at the heart of what we do.”
In terms of pure integrity and authenticity their story is hard to beat. The great news is that today, Beretta is a dynamic business that sells premium meats and is thriving – even in a recession. I can’t think of a better example of Return on Integrity.
I’m also reminded of the latin derivation of the words “company” and “companion”. They come from cum pane– with bread. It’s a reminder that food is central to friendship and also that there is an important social dimension to companies.
What’s your company’s ROI?