Lots of companies talk about their employees as being part of their corporate family, and of taking care of them the way they would a family member.
For Lone Star Transportation and its President and Chief Executive Tex Robbins, those words don’t mean much if they’re not backed up by real-world actions. And Lone Star and Tex do.
Although it’s just four years old, the TEXR Foundation, founded by Robbins and Lone Star, has already dispensed $250,000 to employees, their family members and community organizations in the form of education scholarships and financial assistance to those facing major expenses.
“Good companies have good people,” says Bill Webb, executive director of the foundation. “You take care of those people because you’re a responsible company, but at the end of the day it’s just the right thing to do.”
The TEXR Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, uses its philosophy, “Taking care of our own and those around us” to do the following:
- The Lone Star Family Fund provides one-time grants of up to $500 to individuals or families that have been hit by a personal tragedy or hardship – a death in the family resulting in funeral expenses, for example, or a house fire.
- The Lone Star Education Fund provides scholarships for post-high school students, while the Lone Star Good Neighbor Fund issues grants to accredited non-profit community groups. These funds’ grants have gone to pediatric eye care, child and family abuse prevention and youth activities like local Boys and Girls Clubs.
- The foundation raises money through an annual golf tournament and through donations from managers, employees and those who do business with Lone Star.
“Part of the Lone Star Way is to ‘talk less, say more and mean it,’” Tex says. “The foundation is a way to send a powerful message to our employees that’s meaningful: We know how hard they work for us. We want them to know we’ll be here for them.”
The foundation’s support makes a difference in the lives of recipients. One recipient, who received a scholarship each of the four years the program has operated, recently sent a note of thanks, saying “I’m getting my degree because of the TEXR Foundation.”
Similar notes have been handwritten or in the form of an email, but they’re all heartfelt and personal, Bill says.
“They tell us, ‘Thank you for being the kind of company that takes care of its people. In my biggest time of need, you came through for us. There was no red tape. I’m glad I’m part of the Lone Star family.’”
That lack of a cumbersome process is one of the hallmarks of the TEXR Foundation.
“Traditionally, you pass the hat, you ask for donations when an employee or coworker needs help,” says Hugo Bonacci, Lone Star’s vice president of human resources/administration and a board member of the foundation. “That takes time. But if there’s a need, we have the process in place and the funds available and we can meet that need quickly. We could have a check to the person in the mail the next day or the very same day in many situations. It really expedites the process to get the help when it’s needed.”
Employees can submit applications, or a manager, hearing of a need, may nominate them. Once the application is received, the foundation’s managers can move quickly to review and approve it.
Limitations are few.
“We actually had a driver who experienced a severe financial hardship with a death in his family, he’d only been with us for a few weeks,” Hugo says. “The manager heard about it and sent an application.”
That driver sent back his appreciation:
“I’ve just started with you guys. I’ve not established a relationship with you, but you still helped me.”
That driver is still a dedicated member of the Lone Star Transportation family, which points to one of the practical benefits of having the foundation.
“It’s a great employee-retention tool,” Bill says. “People want to work for a company because of the people there. This just reinforces that this is a great place to be, that it’s a family. Sometimes family is a cliché, when you talk about the business environment. But that truly is the way Lone Star operates.”