West / Regional Reports

Burke Distributes More Than HVAC Equipment

February 27, 2006
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SOUTH EL MONTE, Calif. - For the folks at Burke Engineering Co., giving back to the communities in which they do business is an important part of their business model. Sometimes the giving is as simple as buying Girl Scout cookies from employees' children or sponsoring a Little League baseball team. Often, however, it takes on a more ambitious role, aligning the company with national charities and international relief efforts through substantial donations of time and money.

This past year the distributor, based here, of Luxaire® heating and air conditioning equipment quietly distributed tens of thousands of dollars to a variety of organizations, in an effort to support the people who support their business. Beginning in January of 2005, Burke Engineering placed cans on the counters of its 17 branch locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada to collect money for victims of the 2004 tsunami disaster. The company matched the donations that were collected with a check to UNICEF for $5,600.

The cans appeared a second time in 2005, this time to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Again, Burke Engineering matched the dollars collected at its branch locations, sending the Red Cross a check in the amount of $13,000.

"We don't budget for donations to natural disasters, but we'll always contribute when the need arises," explained Tim Burke, vice president of corporate relations and grandson of company founder John (Bud) Burke. "That's just the right thing to do; and, if our pledge to match donations encourages others to donate their change to worthy causes, that's an even better thing we can do."

In May of last year, Tim Burke and country music star Toby Keith participated in a charity golf tournament benefiting Ally’s House, an organization established to help Oklahoma children with cancer and their families.

More Giving

In May, the company was presented with another opportunity to "do the right thing." Source 1™, the aftermarket division of York – a Johnson Controls Company, invited representatives from Burke Engineering to participate in a charity golf tournament benefiting Ally's House. Established to help Oklahoma children with cancer and their families, Ally's House provides financial resources and personal items to these kids and their families, in addition to planning special events.

"Meeting some of the people associated with Ally's House and seeing first hand the wonderful things that they are able to do there, it was easy to get caught up in their cause," remarked Burke of his first experience with Ally's House. "They were doing nothing but good there, so our company ended up donating $36,000 to the organization. Again, it was just the right thing to do."

As the year progressed, so did the giving.

"In September," explained Burke, "we always try to raise money for a group or an organization that is in some way affiliated with the tragedy of September 11, or with the people who protect and defend us. This year, we selected the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund as the recipient of our fund-raising efforts."

The Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund provides educational scholarships to the children of members of the armed forces who have suffered injury or death during their tour of duty. To encourage participation in the September fundraiser, Burke described the program in the company's monthly coupon flyer: For every invoice submitted during the month of September that exceeded $100, the company would donate $1 to the scholarship fund.

"Our customers had a lot of fun with this promotion, breaking down large invoices into several smaller invoices of $100 each, just so Burke Engineering would get ‘stuck' making multiple $1 donations," said Burke. "Of course, this was one of those times we didn't mind getting ‘stuck,' and we were only too happy to write out a check for $7,054 at the end of the month."

And Still More Giving

That same month, the Make-A-Wish Foundation® also benefited from the generosity of Burke Engineering. Tim Burke helped to organize and participated in the first annual celebrity Make-A-Wish golf tournament and auction on September 16, at Trump National Golf Course in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. As a cart sponsor, the company contributed $10,000 to the event that attracted 144 contributors and 36 celebrities and raised more than $100,000 for the Los Angeles chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Burke Engineering's affiliation with Make-A-Wish began when the company became a Luxaire distributor two years ago.

"In fact," said Burke, "Luxaire's relationship with Make-A-Wish was instrumental in our decision to take on the Luxaire product line. By doing so, we knew would be selling a quality product and helping children at the same time."

As a corporate sponsor, Luxaire donates a portion of every sale of a Luxaire product toward the company's minimum annual contribution of $250,000 to Make-A-Wish. In addition, dollars raised by the company's combined sales efforts support local Make-A-Wish chapters located in dealer markets. Luxaire also encourages homeowners to participate in the program by offering them the opportunity to donate all or a portion of their rebates during spring and fall promotions to their local chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

To date, more than 150 children who suffer from life-threatening medical conditions have enjoyed wishes made possible by more than $1 million raised by Luxaire and its dealer/distributor network. Burke Engineering contributed more than $40,000 to that $1 million milestone during the past 24 months and had the privilege of watching three children in their community receive wishes that can be directly attributed to the generosity of the company.

Habitat for Humanity also knows the deep pockets of Burke Engineering. In October and November, the company participated in a Blitz Build in Claremont, Calif., donating $10,000 in HVAC products and 28 days of labor during the construction of six homes for families in need.

"This was our first experience working with Habitat for Humanity, and it was definitely a good one," said Burke. "As is the case with all the projects we get involved in, this was not a matter of dollars and cents. It is impossible to put a price tag on how good it makes you feel to see the results of what you do, whether it's putting a smile on the face of a child who is ill or sitting down to dinner with a family whose home you helped to build.

"That's why we'll continue to get involved in these kinds of projects in the coming year. We feel very strongly that an important part of any good business plan is giving back to the communities that support your business. We've been fortunate to be part of a successful organization that continues to grow, and we just want to share our success with others who need and deserve our support."

Publication date: 02/27/2006

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