Ennis Fabrics in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has a history that’s steeped in community support.
James Ennis Sr. launched Ennis Fabrics in 1972 with a goal to provide better industrial fabrics and service. From a modest 2,500 square-foot warehouse, the company steadily grew, and today it sells 9,000 products from a state-of-the-art office and warehouse that employs 200 workers.
As a testament to its commitment to charitable giving and community support, Ennis Fabrics sold its former office building and warehouse to the Jerry Forbes Foundation, a resource and office center that houses 15 charities in Edmonton. “It was a good fit for us and a good fit for the Jerry Forbes Foundation,” says Craig Moriyama, Ennis Fabrics marketing manager. “We worked very closely with them, so the building was in order for them.
“The Jerry Forbes Foundation runs the 630 CHED Santas Anonymous program, so every child can receive a toy at Christmas. It proved to be a raging success during the Ennis warehouse transition time. We were still in that building a year ago today, but I would say about 40 percent of the warehouse was filled with toys for Santas Anonymous,” says Moriyama. When they were distributing the toys, traffic was so backed up to the building. For consultants and others we work with, it took them 30 minutes to drive five blocks for them to make it to the building. It was something to see.”
Support of the Jerry Forbes Foundation is just one aspect of the company’s charitable endeavors. Ennis has been actively supporting and generating funds for the Movember Foundation, Salvation Army, United Way “Tools for School”, and Canadian Cancer Society CIBC Run for the Cure in Edmonton.
As a city of nearly 1 million inhabitants, Edmonton has a variety of civic and charitable needs, and Ennis has stepped up to provide support. “The charitable events we attend and what the company gives to different charities mesh perfectly with the company’s culture,” says Moriyama.
The Movember Foundation is focused on combatting prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health problems and suicide. “We’ve been involved in the Movember Program for several years now,” says Moriyama. “Men, who were able to, grew a mustache. It was fun to see employees, who usually didn’t have a mustache, wearing a mustache.” Women at Ennis got behind the program and wore fake mustaches. Ennis generated more than $1,000 for the program this year.
Ennis has also been a staunch supporter in the fight against breast cancer. For many years, employees have participated and contributed to CIBC Run for the Cure 5K run or 1K walk in Edmonton. Moriyma added, “Unfortunately, cancer touches too many people, so we get a lot people to turn out and support this cause.”
For the United Way “Tools for School” program, this year Ennis stuffed 38 backpacks full of the necessary school supplies for a school year. “Every August we do this,” says Moriyama. “We make sure the backpacks have the right supplies for the age and gender of the students. And then we put together as many backpacks as possible.”
As a long-time community supporter and champion to charities in Edmonton, Ennis will continue to make a decisive difference and rally employees to important causes.
Paul Johnson is a writer based in Minnesota.