Blog: Brian Elias

Social responsibility has grown from business school curriculum and boardroom gab into a customer expectation. Brian Elias, founder and president of 1-800-HANSONS, says that when customers buy a company's products, they're also buying its stance on community involvement.

The first person who gets laid off is me

The economy is tough right now and everyone is impacted by it.  We care about our customers and we also care about our employees. When your business is viewed as a good corporate citizen by supporting local groups, you attract and maintain higher quality employees as well.  During hard times 1-800-Hansons has not had any layoffs because we live and operate by a few important rules:

My pay is cut before my employees. As the owner of a company, I will go to 0 before I cut someone else's salary. A good policy is to downsize from the top down, not the bottom up.

Trim fat where you can. Before I eliminate a job, I will try to cut down on hours within a department, that way everyone still has an income. 

Tackle obstacles as a company, not an individual.
Each person knows when we are doing well and when we are not.  When things get tough we come together and face the challenges as a unit. Before we can do anything we have to make sure there are funds to operate.  We are constantly inventing and reinventing.  A business is an ongoing experiment and as the economy changes we have to look at new ways to achieve a desired result.

We care for our employees the same way we care for our customers. When the foundation is caring for customers, it pays you back every time.