Like many businesses, when The Fruit Box Group started out, social responsibility wasn't on their radar. Their focus was just chasing the sale and hoping that something stuck! Once the company had some revenue to work with, getting a positive cash flow became their mantra. This alone took them over 7 years.
||The Fruit Box Group
| Head office
| Contact details
| "Being more connected with the community immediately around us and knowing what is going on now plays a very important part in how we want to go about our business."
|- Martin Halphen
The Fruit Box Group's journey to a meaningful social platform started when customers asked them what they were doing for the community. When they were first asked they froze up, not really knowing what it meant, or what it would cost.
It prompted the business to think about what they could do and sparked their first steps into business social responsibility. They started small with fruit donations to food rescue programs. Overtime, they have come to see that social responsibility is not only good for the community; it's also highly valued by customers, employees and partners.
And they've learned that giving in the right way is directly linked to good business which helps growth. Once businesses have this awareness, there is a real incentive to take action, which is good for everyone.
Here’s what they’ve learnt:
It boosts customer relationships
Customers like working with organisations that do good in the community. Over the last few years, The Fruit Box Group's corporate customers (whether by tenders or informal chats) have increasingly asked what they are doing for the community. As they considered this, they realised that they wanted to be remembered for more than just being a good commercial business.
As an organisation that prides itself on core values of empathy and humility, they asked themselves ‘can you have true empathy and humility if you are not really connected with the community immediately around you?’ This awareness fired-up The Fruit Box Group's genuine desire to have a social focus.
The organisation now donates 3 tonnes of fruit each week to food share programs. And, in 2017 they launched The One Box, which will see the business donate 25,000 boxes of fresh produce to disadvantaged families across the year.
Social responsibility increases staff engagement
Increasingly, people at all levels are looking for organisations that share their values and have a culture they want to be part of. Having a strong and genuine social responsibility commitment in place can make a difference in attracting and keeping staff. Many young people in particular are looking for companies that make a social difference. And they value the opportunity to get directly involved. The One Box program gives team members opportunities to participate, like packing boxes for families in need.
It builds community support and partnerships
By helping to support a more equitable community, companies are helping to create an environment in which business grows and thrives. The One Box initiative has strengthened their existing community partnerships and helped them create new connections with agencies and individuals. The program has created jobs that support young people growing-up in the local community and increased orders for their farming partners.
Martin Halphen, founder and CEO of The Fruit Box Group asserts that 'being more connected with the community immediately around us and knowing what is going on now plays a very important part in how we want to go about our business’.
It helps drive culture and morale
One of the most powerful and rewarding outcomes of The Fruit Box Group’s journey is that they like themselves more as a business for actually doing something that can have community impact. As an organisation they now walk taller, prouder, much more united. There is a collective energy to see the business grow so they can do more. They want their legacy to be an organisation with more than just a healthy bottom line.
Authenticity is key
To be sustainable, the commitment to social responsibility has to be real and valued by all levels of the organisation. For The Fruit Box Group, they only started doing something when they genuinely connected with the principles behind their social responsibility programs. As their awareness of the community impacts and their business capacity has grown, so too has their commitment to social responsibility. Once you believe that good business is more than just a healthy bottom line, it's easy to make social good a part of your organisation.
Every business needs to map its own path. If you’re not doing it for the right reasons at the right time, it's probably not worth doing.
Martin Halphen is the founder and CEO of The Fruit Box Group. From a fresh fruit home-delivery service with 280 customers in 2000, The Fruit Box Group had grown to be Australia's leading, premium quality, workplace fruit and milk delivery company. The organisation now delivers around 30,000 orders per week of perishable consumables to workplaces nationally; and has a turnover of $50M+. In 2017, The Fruit Box Group is donating 25,000 boxes of fresh produce to disadvantaged families under 'The One Box' initiative.