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How one scale-up blew past its goal of donating more than $100 million to charity

Rick Britton, CEO of Digital Monitoring Products

Digital Monitoring Products (DMP) is on the move. It is not only scaling up as a company but exponentially growing its impact when it comes to giving back to nonprofits in the community and around the world. Under the leadership of CEO Rick Britton, it has given more than $118 million in time and money to charities that support people, a seven-year goal, accomplished in only three.

The family-owned manufacturing firm, founded in Springfield, Missouri, in 1975, makes intrusion, fire, and access control products. DMP designs, manufactures and engineers all its products in the U.S., using domestic and global components. 

Laying a foundation for giving back

In 2016, the leadership team began using the Scaling Up platform. One goal was to sharpen the company’s focus on Execution—one of the 4 Decisions every company must get right to scale—after members of the executive team read my book Scaling Up: Rockefeller Habits 2.0

They prioritized hitting deadlines involved in new product development, such as product revisions, and reducing product issues. “We thought that was our weakest spot,” recalls David Peebles, vice president of training and development. Scaling Up Certified Coaches Rob Garibay and Stacy Eads guided them. 

The company also focused on the other three Ds—People, Strategy and Cash, setting goals in the areas of employee turnover, retention of new dealers, revenue and net operating income. As a result of these efforts, the company has grown its revenue by 54% since 2016 and its headcount by 15%, according to Peebles. 

Finding a Core Purpose

As part of their work with Eads, the leadership team engaged in exercises to get clear on the company’s Core Purpose. They asked themselves two questions about the work they do: “Why is that important?” and “Why does that matter?” 

Doing that hard thinking helped them come up with a Core Purpose that reflects what truly matters at the company. Today, the Core Purpose is: “DMP manufactures security systems to create jobs, that support families, because the security of families determines the strength of our society, and a strong society reaches out to the rest of the world.”

Setting a daunting BHAG

In keeping with the new Core Purpose, a team member suggested at the company’s annual planning meeting in 2018 that DMP embrace a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of donating $100 million in cash and volunteer hours to nonprofits selected by the company’s ownership committee—an idea the executive team loved. “It was pretty exciting when we announced it to our employees, who stood and applauded,” recalls Peebles. “I think that says a lot about the people we hire here.”

Employees at every level of the company threw themselves into meeting the goal, volunteering on their own time. Many liked the focus on donating to groups that help individuals and families. “These charities give to people in great need,” says Peebles. “We won’t sponsor someone’s football team, golf tournament, or band. Those are good things, but they are not our focus.”

One charity the company supports is Convoy of Hope. It builds feeding centers in some of the most impoverished countries in the world, offers disaster relief responses all over the globe, and empowers women who find themselves as the sole breadwinner for their children to start a small business, guiding them on how to create a business plan and providing help with financing or microloans. “You can break the generational cycle of poverty,” says Peebles. 

Exceeding a goal 

Thanks to the enthusiasm of the team, DMP blew past its goal. The company achieved $118 million in donations, plus 10,000 hours of employee volunteer time, in just three years.  

When Britton announced on stage that the company had surpassed its BHAG, he also announced it was giving each team member a $5,000 bonus as thanks for everyone’s generosity. (To see this joyful moment, check out this short video)

Now that the company has baked this charitable commitment into its DNA, it has gone a step further. During the hiring process, its HR team asks about applicants’ most rewarding volunteer experiences. “When you hear about those experiences, it tells you a lot about someone,” says Peebles. It’s all part of creating a culture of generosity where everyone is aligned around the company’s Core Purpose. 

Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” and WEO’s “Advanced Business” executive program both held at MIT. Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 150 coaching partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies scale-up. The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also the Venture columnist for FORTUNE magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0); Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times," for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. Verne also chairs FORTUNE Magazine’s annual Leadership and Growth Summits and serves on several boards including chairman of The Riordan Clinic and the newly launched Geoversity. He is an investor in many scale-ups. A father of four, he enjoys piano, tennis, and magic as a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

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