CSR 'Giant': Aces Electronics
Bringing Ambulances to the Rescue
For many small companies with limited resources, CSR means focusing on one cause and doing it well. Aces Electronics has found its niche, and built considerable pride among its employees in the process.
Bringing Ambulances to the RescueBy Kuo-chen Lu
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 579 )
It no longer makes news in Taiwan when a corporation or wealthy individual buys an ambulance and donates it to a hospital or an emergency medical unit. But in this year's CommonWealth Magazine corporate social responsibility survey, the company that ranked second among the survey's CSR "small giants," stood out for its single-minded dedication to donating ambulances.
How special has the company's initiative been? Over the past eight years, connector maker Aces Electronics Co. has donated ambulances and mobile medical vehicles to cash-strapped government agencies or local hospitals stretching from the Matsu and Penghu islands and Orchid Island to Hualien and Taitung counties in eastern Taiwan.
Aces Electronics is relatively invisible because the connectors the company produces for notebook computer or automotive applications are rarely noticed by consumers. And it has done little to draw attention to itself when engaging in CSR activities.
But E.Sun Securities Chairman Shen Shui-chin (沈水金) notes that if you were to mark all the places that have received ambulances from Aces Electronics over the past eight years on a map, Taiwan and its outlying islands would be pretty much accounted for. In the future, people may begin calling Aces Electronics Chairman Iven Yuan (袁万丁) "Ambulance Yuan."
Describing his strategy, Yuan explains that many benefactors prefer to donate ambulances to organizations near where they live and take pleasure from seeing their vehicle in the neighborhood, even if many of those more affluent areas do not need additional ambulances.
"But medical organizations in Taiwan's island counties and remote areas don't have enough funding to replace aging vehicles due to be removed from service. These are the targets of Aces' donations," Yuan says.
The significance of contributing ambulances to needy areas goes beyond social engagement, Yuan says. It also builds a sense of pride among his employees and enables the company and its people to advance social initiatives together, which is why the donations are made in the names of Aces Electronics workers.
The Most Important People
Chou Tien-hung (周恬弘), administrative vice superintendent of Mennonite Christian Hospital in Hualien County, recalls that when a mobile medical vehicle given by Aces Electronics arrived, he noticed it was called the "Chiao man" (喬曼) and wondered who "Chiao man" was.
"I thought it was probably the most important woman in Yuan's life," Chou says, only to find out that it was the name of one of the company's employees.
"It was the first time I've seen a company donate an ambulance or mobile medical vehicle in an employee's name," he says.
Why that approach? Yuan explains that a decade ago he donated vehicles in the name of the company or his family, but starting about eight years ago he wanted to get his employees more involved in social welfare.
On the day of the donation, Yuan invites the employee's parents, wife and children to participate in the ceremony, giving the worker a sense of honor and letting the family appreciate the pride people feel working at Aces Electronics and their contributions to society.
When Typhoon Morakot devastated Taiwan in early August 2009, the company felt shock. But when following TV coverage of rescue and relief efforts, employees noticed that one of the ambulances dispatched in the rescue effort was named the "Chiu Shi-min" – an Aces Electronics worker. They enthusiastically talked about it, realizing they had made a tangible contribution to society.
Over the past eight years, Aces Electronics has donated 32 ambulances at a cost of over NT$2 million a vehicle, no small sum for a small or medium-sized enterprise. The financial commitment is especially impressive considering that the company's CSR activities do not directly benefit its sales or brand image because it does not deal directly with consumers.
This year, Aces Electronics began donating mobile medical vehicles to organizations that have a need for them, such as Mennonite Christian Hospital, tailoring the vehicles to the beneficiary's requirements. That way, resources go to where they are truly needed.
Says Yuan: "Through these acts of folly to do good, we hope to get employees, their families and people around them to participate in social welfare and have everybody in Taiwan join together to cultivate a truly blessed land."
Translated from the Chinese by Luke Sabatier