PMI employees at Walk for Rice. Photo courtesy of ACRS.

Pacific Market International (PMI) is an international company that designs and creates food and beverage containers under the brands of Stanley, Aladdin and MiGo. They were founded in 1983 by Rob Harris, who also served as board vice president of ACRS. PMI has been a proud supporter of ACRS for 20 years, and this year, they are the Presenting Sponsor for Walk for Rice. With 90 employees in their Seattle headquarters office, PMI not only sponsors the event, their employees get involved in volunteering, fundraising and participating in Walk for Rice. Valerie Bone, director of corporate responsibility for PMI, goes into detail about their relationship with ACRS and the value they place in ACRS’ work.

When did PMI first start supporting ACRS as a corporate sponsor? How has PMI shown their support for ACRS over the years?

It started with Rob Harris, our founder, former CEO and now chairman of the board of PMI. He has a history of both corporate and personal philanthropy since he founded PMI back in 1983. 1997 was a pivotal year where we really stepped up our game corporately to focus more on formalizing our philanthropy, creating our philanthropy team, and engaging as much as possible with the community.

We’ve been a supporter of ACRS since 1997 and we are proud to be the presenting sponsor for the Walk for Rice. We see the benefit ACRS brings to the community and the difference ACRS makes in all demographics, especially the Asian American community in the region and King County. Our employees really enjoy volunteering at the ACRS Food Bank and walking in Walk for Rice, and we’re seeing some creative engagements around fundraising this year.

How does supporting ACRS and the Walk for Rice align with PMI’s values and sense of corporate responsibility and philanthropy? How has “giving back” benefited employees as well?

Our pillars for our corporate philanthropy globally are supporting organizations that support children, education and the environment, and certainly ACRS comes in under two of those. There’s also a lot more that ACRS does, but those happen to be our pillars. We do a lot of business in countries in Asia. We see the connection there, but also in our own community and with our employees.

And as far as philanthropy, we have been told by most people we have hired in the last five years that a key factor for them in joining PMI was our community engagement and sustainability. So all the things we do in our supply chain, in our communities and environmentally is to really try and be good corporate citizens.
How PMI’s involvement in ACRS and Walk for Rice nurtured the next/new generation of philanthropists at PMI?

In addition to what I just mentioned about new employees feeling this is something that matters to them, what we see today is that employees want to have a sense of purpose. They want to feel the company they are aligned with has that same sense of purpose. And what we’re seeing is that more and more employees are willing to engage, in addition to joining the philanthropy committee and being involved. What we see is really creative ways (employees) have supported Walk for Rice.

For example, we have one employee who has stepped up to make lunches. She happens to be an incredible chef. She’s of Chinese descent and she makes incredible Chinese dishes. So you can sign up for the goodies she’s making and you make a donation at a set amount. Then she’s cooking lunches for four Fridays leading up to the Walk for Rice. And that will add to the money the PMI team raises for Walk for Rice.

In addition to our corporate donation, we have a team that we form for Walk for Rice, and they’re gathering donations for their walk. And then we’re adding to that this special internal fun Friday lunches to raise more funds. It’s fun, it builds internal camaraderie, team building and communication internally, and it also does good. And even employees who aren’t working the food bank or aren’t walking get to feel that they’re part of it.

How is your new CEO committed to continuing the legacy of giving back to the community?

Rob Harris has been our CEO since he founded the company in 1983 until October 1, 2018. He’s now stepped up to chairman of the board and our new CEO Bob Keller joined us officially on October 1. Bob is passionate about philanthropy, and it’s really exciting to see him really want to engage and be supportive of our philanthropy work. He sees not only the benefit of it in the community but the benefit to our employees and our company to be engaged.

What are some of the new ideas towards philanthropy for your company?

We are focused going forward more and more on what we call the “triple effort,” which is not just money. We’re still a small to medium sized enterprise, we’re growing all the time, but it is really doable. It’s not just the huge companies who can make a difference in the community. We feel any company can make a difference in the community, and we encourage other companies to do so. Please join us in the Walk for Rice.

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