Fe plus C equals heart of Au at Mill Steel

October 18, 2010
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The Mill Steel Co. sells products made of iron and carbon, but the company has a heart of gold.

The local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals is honoring the Grand Rapids firm on National Philanthropy Day, Nov. 9, for its long-term commitment to D.A. Blodgett — St. John’s.

“It’s always been our philosophy — mine and my father, who was the founder of the company — that success creates obligation to the community,” said David Samrick, Mill Steel owner and president.

“This community has been so wonderful to us as a business that it’s an obligation to give back and it’s an honor and a privilege to be able to do it. It’s really that simple.”

Mill Steel is one of several award winners at the annual event, scheduled for noon Nov. 9 at the Prince Conference Center at Calvin College. Following the awards luncheon is keynote speaker Sherry Schiller, an organizational strategist and coach from Virginia, whose topic is “Purpose & Harmony: The Keys to Making a Meaningful Difference.”

Anna Goddard, National Philanthropy Day chair for the AFP and fund development coordinator for Clark Retirement Community, said tickets for the lunch are $25, and for the lunch and speaker, $35. Registration is available online at www.afpwm.org

While Mill Steel is receiving the award for outstanding corporation, AFP-West Michigan also is recognizing Robert Berkhof of Calvin College with the Benjamin Franklin award for outstanding fundraising professional; Thomas S. and Mickie Fox, retired jewelers who donated millions for surgical robots at Grand Rapids’ three hospitals, as distinguished philanthropists; Tom Edmonds, retired sheriff of Kalamazoo County, for his efforts on behalf of the Drug Treatment Court Foundation and senior citizen services; and Hope College student Luke Eastburg, who is raising money for a South African organization devoted to disabled children.

“It’s beyond my imagination that we could ever be chosen for this,” said Mill Steel’s Samrick.

Founded in 1959 by Samrick’s father, Harry Samrick, the company processes steel for the transportation industry, appliances, HVAC, home goods, furniture, commercial construction and agriculture. It has distribution and sales offices in Detroit as well as Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Ontario and Texas.

Mill Steel’s philanthropy is focused on the welfare of children, Samrick said. Since 1997, the company has been lead sponsor of D.A. Blodgett’s Golf for Kids’ Sake July golf outing, which supports the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, said Linda Postma, director of major gifts for the nonprofit.

“They are involved in it from the beginning,” Postma said. “They solicit the sponsors, the advertising, and bring in their own vendors. They bring in all the teams, help with door prizes. They have the event and we are the recipient of the proceeds.”

Mill Steel’s fundraising for the organization now tops $1 million, Postma said. The company also helps out with other activities, such as donations for back-to-school backpacks, and several employees serve as big brothers and sisters, she said.

“It’s a huge deal,” she added. “When Mill Steel started as title sponsor, at that time Big Brothers/Big Sisters was only serving 285. This year it’s over 1,100. With their help, we have been able to increase the numbers of children serviced.”

D.A. Blodgett merged with St. John’s last year. Samrick is a former member of the board of directors.

“Our main focus through the years, although we do a lot of other things, has always been the welfare of children,” Samrick said

Mill Steel’s 150 employees — about half located in Grand Rapids — support an array of additional causes, from the Heart of West Michigan United Way to informally adopting a needy family at the holidays, Samrick said. Offices outside of Grand Rapids also support causes in their own communities, he added. The company utilizes a foundation, and Samrick said he also maintains a family foundation.

Philanthropy has a “positive influence” on the workplace, Samrick added.

“All the folks that are working at Mill Steel have a lot of pride, and I think people want to be associated with a company that gives back to the community,” he said. “It’s just part of the Mill Steel culture. It permeates the whole business.”

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