Social stewardship and community outreach have been woven into the culture at Cooley Group, headquartered in Pawtucket, R.I. Nearly every quarter, Cooley Group conducts a specific outreach program under the “Cooley Cares” banner to improve lives and make positive changes in the community.
Founded as a cotton awning fabrics manufacturer in 1926, Cooley Group has grown into one of the largest membrane, cover and liner manufacturers in the world. Its products are used for water, fuel and chemical containment as well as outdoor advertising, signage and awnings. While it’s not uncommon for high-profile companies to lose sight of social concerns, Cooley makes it a priority to get involved and make a difference.
According to the company, Cooley has a steadfast dedication to its three pillars of sustainable growth: economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and social responsibility. And the guiding principle of social responsibility was put into action in October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month as the company collaborated with the Gloria Gemma Cancer Resource Foundation, also in Pawtucket.
Cooley Group president and CEO Dan Dwight explains, “Externally, we are looking to support various organizations in and around where we operate our facilities. In the case of the Gloria Gemma Cancer Resource Foundation, they’re a Rhode Island-, Massachusetts-, Connecticut-based resource for families who have a member diagnosed with cancer. October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we wanted to support a local charity that was doing really good work.”
The foundation has been providing an invaluable service for about 10 years and Cooley employees and families have been touched by cancer, so it was a natural collaboration. The Gloria Gemma mission is “to celebrate and nurture life in our local community before, during and after a cancer diagnosis by providing education, access to wellness resources and support programs to all those touched by cancer.”
To generate funds, Cooley Group allocated a portion of all sales in October to support the Gloria Gemma Foundation. To raise awareness, it also went pink in a big way. As a manufacturer of membranes and fabrics for signs and outdoor advertising the company wrapped each roll of material in effervescent pink packaging with a Breast Cancer Awareness Month tag.
And customers and partners certainly took notice of the packaging change. “So many customers who would get a pink roll would go: ‘Wait, there is something wrong with my material.’ No, it’s just the packaging. It was a great way to raise awareness about breast cancer. At one point, our entire shipping area was full of pink,” says Dwight.
Reflecting back on the program, Dwight says, “I thought the best part [of the breast cancer program] was the camaraderie across the company when everyone was wearing pink. We’re a good size manufacturing company. A lot of guys on the factory floor tend to be big burly guys, and they’re wearing pink T-shirts, so it was a lot of fun. The entire company participated in the program.” At the end of the month, Cooley Group raised $5,000 to donate to the Gloria Gemma Cancer Foundation.
Paul Johnson is a writer based in Minnesota.