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Why BSE? Be part of a supportive, winning team

Chuck DownsEnjoy your work – and have fun!

It may only be January, but Chuck Downs can’t wait for his annual 200-mile relay run in March.

Downs and a group of 11 friends, colleagues and Border States customers will take part in South Carolina’s Palmetto200 adventure race, which stretches from Columbia to Charleston on March 23 and 24.

Downs (far left) and his Palmetto200 team run the 200-mile relay every year.

Downs is constantly amazed by the teamwork that pushes his group to the finish line every year. He says it’s a way for them to build camaraderie by mixing business with fun. The same goes for teamwork at Border States’ West Columbia branch, where Downs serves as Branch Manager.

“If you truly want to be part of a caring and supportive team that strives to be the best, and gives you the tools you need to succeed, you couldn’t pick a better team than Border States,” he says.

Be part of a terrific team

Originally from the small farming community of Suffolk, VA, Downs brings a teamwork mindset to everything he does. It’s a helpful habit that was first developed when he was accepted into Virginia Commonwealth University on a baseball scholarship. He earned his bachelor’s in marketing.

“I may have hung up my cleats, but I’m still a baseball guy at heart,” says Downs, who’s been an employee-owner for more than five years. “I continue to use the coaching and teaching techniques of baseball within our business.”

College Colors Day
Downs (yellow shirt) and the West Columbia branch recently took part in Border States’ friendly College Colors Day competition.

One of the many unique things about the West Columbia branch is the number of market segments it serves. About 40 employee-owners assist customers in the construction, industrial, utility and international markets.

Any one of those segments could see a spike in activity at any time, which is why Border States goes to great lengths to cross-train its employees, helping them grow professionally and become more collaborative. Like any great sports team, each employee-owner at the branch is willing to step in where help is needed.

“That’s happening right now with our Hurricane Maria disaster relief supply for Puerto Rico,” Downs says. “Every employee-owner strives to set the standard for the business as a whole.”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrztwZ8lDFg&w=400&h=225]

“Set the standard” is actually one of Border States’ seven Ownership Essentials, which is a list of specific employee-owner qualities and guidelines that lead to our success. The remaining Ownership Essentials include:

  • Focus and deliver
  • Understand the big picture
  • Solutions mindset
  • Be brave
  • Own it
  • Work hard and have fun

Find your voice, share your expertise

Even though Downs hasn’t been with Border States for 30 or 40 years, he feels his fresh perspective is heard and valued, and he can easily share ideas with fellow employee-owners. He also appreciates that Border States is organized and has a structured mission.

“I enjoy working for a company that has a clear vision and plan,” he says. “It’s also a huge benefit to be invested in Border States’ financial success through its 100 percent employee stock-ownership plan (ESOP).”

Down’s voice has been especially valuable at the West Columbia branch because he understands the basic building blocks of the processes that tie in to the location’s various distribution channels. His background includes delivery and operations logistics involving propane and natural gas, material recycling and crushing, as well as screening and manufacturing – just to name a few.

Border States cares about your well-being

Border States offers its team members incentives to remain active and healthy through its user-friendly and effective HealthyBlue wellness program and Power of Wellness (POW) initiatives. Downs enjoys seeing his colleagues achieve their HealthyBlue goals, through which they build up reward points by tracking their diet and exercise, all while developing a healthier lifestyle.

“You have to have a healthy team that can stay on the field and play,” he says. “With Border States’ health incentives, you work better, think better, feel better, and place a greater emphasis on safety.”

SHARP certification
In 2017, Downs (kneeling in the middle) and the West Columbia team re-certified for the South Carolina Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), which is run by each state on behalf of OSHA.

Find your work family here

Downs is thankful to say he has found his work family, and enjoys working beside them every day.

“We hold one another accountable, always pushing ourselves to be a little better than we initially think we can,” he says. “This is a great group of people.”

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