It is natural for companies to seek publicity for good deeds that help an entire community. That’s especially true of locally owned and operated businesses, many of which compete as the hometown favorite. But putting the company name in the spotlight or touting its generosity is not the motive behind Northwest Lighting & Accents’ award-winning charitable programs. “We do it because it is something we like to do,” explains Residential Lighting Manager Jennifer Jensen of the decorative showroom arm of Northwest Electrical Supply. “Our owners are philanthropists so helping local charities comes pretty naturally.”
One of the largest beneficiaries is Habitat For Humanity. Northwest actually works with a few different chapters in the Greater Chicago area. “We chose Habitat for Humanity because their work pertains to our industry directly and they sorely need lighting for the homes they help build. On a practical level, we really needed someone as an outlet for our old, discontinued stock,” Jensen says.
Several times a year, Northwest donates large fixtures still in boxes. Many are sold at a local Habitat for Humanity store. “If the store is running low on lighting products, they call us and send a truck to get merchandise. The organization needs as much as they can get, which works well for us,” Jensen says. For volunteers’ convenience, Northwest staffers provide lists and product descriptions that explain where the items can be placed within a home. Jensen adds.
Aspiring interior designers studying at Harper College also get special attention from Northwest, starting with an evening event at the Mount Prospect, IL, showroom. Held in early October and again in spring, the event creates strong bonds with interior design students in the early stages of their studies. “I love that starry look in their eyes as they walk around the showroom,” Jensen says. “And they ask great questions.”
Later in the semester, Jensen says many Harper students return to the showroom looking for help with school projects. Jensen finds it enjoyable watching their progress. “Our outreach helps us develop quite a few customers when the students graduate,” she says. “Another perk is getting first crack at the ones who fall in love with lighting. They make excellent employees.”