In 1976 when Hypertherm finally became profitable, our founder, Dick Couch chose to share that profit with the Associates who had been by his side during Hypertherm’s early years, informally launching profit-sharing at Hypertherm. “Shared rewards” became a stated corporate value and remains so today. While shared rewards were certainly valuable to our Associates, Mr. Couch understood that when Hypertherm did well, sharing with our communities was necessary too. He felt it important to reach beyond our four walls to support the communities where our valuable Associates lived, worked, and raised their families. As a result, during those early years, Hypertherm found ways to build stronger connections to the community. Well before launching our formal Community Service Time program, we partnered with schools and mentored children; we cooked and served community dinners to our marginalized neighbors; we supported nonprofits doing great work. We also made the decision to match all United Way donations. As the company grew, Hypertherm formalized its Community Service Time (CST) benefit to give all Associates around the globe equal opportunity to serve and give back to the communities where they lived and worked. We started a philanthropy team following the creation of the ESOP in 2001, now called the HOPE Team, to empower Associates to assume responsibility for Hypertherm’s financial gifting decisions. Although, we did not have a formal Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team, we were functioning as responsible corporate citizens and living out our values.
In 2010, we created the HOPE (Hypertherm Owners’ Philanthropic Endeavors) Foundation. The Foundation continues the work of Hypertherm’s early Philanthropy Team by working to partner with nonprofit organizations and engage in activities that strengthen and create sustainable, positive change in our communities and the environment. We continue to be thoughtful about our charitable giving. The dollars have increased, as has our due diligence. Today, we are more strategic, making certain that our allocation strategy aligns with the greatest needs, the interests of our Associates, and the focus areas we deem most critical to the communities where our Associates live and work. We are especially proud of our model, which places grant decisions in the hands of representative Hypertherm Associates.