CDW celebrates decade of participation
in Corporate Challenge in a big way
Members of the CDW team pause for a few minutes from passing out the comany's blue T-shirts to take a photo (top). At bottom, post-race festivities are enjoyed at the CDW tent on a late spring night in Chicago.
CHICAGO, April 29, 2010 — Even in the throng of participants that spill out of Chicago's downtown office buildings and disembark from the area's public transit systems each year to fill up the emerald swaths of Grant Park for the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge®, it's easy to spot members of the CDW team. In recent years, they've been the ones wearing bright, solid blue T-shirts and smiles.
And, there have been a lot of them.
"This will be the 10th year that CDW has participated," said company captain Kellie Colosi. "Including this year, since 2006 nearly 2,500 coworkers will have run in the race."
That's a trend that will continue on Thursday, May 27 when as many as 20,000 will gather for the 29th annual edition of a race that has come to serve as the unofficial kickoff for the Memorial Day weekend and summer in Chicago (register now). In the Grant Park crowd this year will be 599 entrants from CDW.
What are the secrets to attracting and organizing such a large team year after year?
"Our reputation precedes us!" said Colosi. "Coworkers really enjoy this event. Along with our announcement and reminders to join Team CDW, we believe our coworkers encourage each other to participate."
Lisa Prazuch, Manager of Organizational Health at CDW, said that in this year's internal promotions for the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge, organizers also appealed to their coworkers' creative and charitable sides.
"To add to the excitement this year, for the first time we held a T-shirt design contest among coworkers," said Prazuch. "The winner's design will be entered into the (Corporate Challenge) T-shirt contest. At CDW our contest winner was able to make a company paid donation to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Illinois Chapter. If the CDW design wins the (Corporate Challenge) T-shirt contest, CDW will make a $1,000 donation to the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Illinois."
The charitable efforts - part of the corporate culture at CDW - also fit perfectly into efforts by the Corporate Challenge in each of its 12 host cities to help local non-profit beneficiaries. In Chicago this year, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation will again make a donation for every entrant to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Cook County 's food bank. In 2009, the Foundation also made a donation for each entry to the Depository, and the 17,070 race participants also contributed 8,209 pounds of food through advance and on-site food drives. This year, participants also can join a Virtual Food Drive to help Chicago's hungry.
Another key element in building the large and successful team at CDW is leadership. From Chairman and CEO John Edwardson and other members of senior management to the hands-on efforts of Colosi and Prazuch, who deal with the nuts and bolts of organizing a 600-strong team, leadership helps make everything happen.
"Our excitement for the event shows through to the participants," said Prazuch. "To add to the fun, we hold a post-race dinner complete with food, beverage and music. Everyone has a good time!"
"In CDW's effort to provide unique perks that encourage camaraderie, we decided to sponsor participation in the race," said Colosi. "I have been the CDW Team Captain for three years now and it is the most exciting and rewarding event that I coordinate. This is such a great event for the company. Seeing the excitement in coworkers' faces the night of the race is motivation in itself."
One example of that this year, said Prazuch and Colosi, may well be John Smith. The Senior Director for Coworker Services, Smith is using the Corporate Challenge to re-commit himself to a healthy lifestyle.
"He has always been active — working out, playing basketball, swimming, etc. — but he recently decided to kick it up a notch," said Prazuch. "Participating in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge is one step on his path to his goal. Next, the Chicago Triathlon!"
And, success stories such as Smith's are important at a company like CDW, a leading provider of technology products and services for business, government and education. The company began in 1982 when 28-year-old Michael Krasny sat at his kitchen table to write a classified ad to sell his used IBM computer. Two years later, CDW was founded. Today, it is ranked No. 41 on Forbes' list of America 's largest private companies. It relies on approximately 6,150 coworkers to service customers in a changing and complex technological marketplace, and in the past year generated sales of $7.6 billion.
"We believe that engaged coworkers lead to satisfied customers," said Prazuch. "In our effort to drive engagement, we strive to maintain a healthy organization, which includes a balance of work and fun. We sponsor participation in the Corporate Challenge as one way to accomplish this balance."
Or, as CEO Edwardson says on the company's website: "Happy coworkers lead to happy customers, and that is fundamental to what shapes our business and helps us continue to grow."
Chicago 's JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge is another step — actually a lot of steps from 599 team members — that CDW is making with its valued coworkers.