Members of the Getinge team gather for a group photo prior to the start of the 2009 Chase Corporate Challenge at Rochester Institute of Technology.
Corporate Challenge offers Getinge workforce
a too-rare chance to share fitness and fun
ROCHESTER, May 13, 2010 — Mark Smith, the company captain for Getinge, has participated in the Rochester Chase Corporate Challenge® for nearly two decades. During that time, he has seen great change at a race that has become the most popular running event in Monroe County.
”My first Corporate Challenge was in the early 1990s when there were less than 1,000 runners at the Highland Park location,” he said. ”Seeing how the event has grown over the years has been exciting to be part of. The race organizers are to be commended for an outstanding job to keep this event going in the Rochester area.”
On Thursday, June 3, Chase celebrates its 20th year of owning and operating the Corporate Challenge on the park-like grounds of the campus of the Rochester Institute of Technology (registration remains open).
What began modestly two decades ago with 816 participants from 76 companies in Highland Park has evolved into the most widely-anticipated road race in the area. A total of 9,053 runners and walkers from 412 companies took part in 2009. That represented the highest ”per capita” participation (number of entrants compared to metropolitan area population) of any of the 12 cities that hosted JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series races.
Through the passing years and the growth, some things have remained constant at Rochester and throughout the Corporate Challenge. The Series continues to succeed in promoting its founding goals of fitness and camaraderie in the workplace. And that is much appreciated by Smith, particularly at a company such as Getinge.
Headquartered in the Swedish city of the same name, Getinge provides the health care and life science industries with solutions for infection control and contamination prevention. It is a multifaceted company with many branches and a work force split by functions even within the same branch.
”This event is important to Getinge as it provides an opportunity for our manufacturing personnel to socially interact with our sales and service staff,” said Smith, Director of QA/RA at Getinge. ”We are a bit separated within our building and this is one of the few events we have during the year that allows us to get together outside of the work environment. As much as we try not to talk shop during this event, sometimes there is a bit of casual discussion over some good food and drink.”
At Rochester, the Chase Corporate Challenge will give about 65 Getinge employees the too-rare chance to participate in a shared activity, then enjoy out-of-the-office camaraderie.
”We have one person who travels from our Charleston, SC facility and another from the Albany, NY area to participate,” Smith said.
All that, of course, doesn't just happen by accident. Like company captains across the Series, Smith fills a vital role in getting teams organized and doing what he can to make sure members enjoy themselves.
”I have been the team captain for the past nine years,” said Smith, who had been the team captain for two other companies before coming to Getinge. ”I tried to bring a bit of new energy and solicit better management support to better fund the activity. Back in the day, we used to drag in the gas grill, go shopping for food, utensils, cups, plates, condiments, etc., and cook up hamburgers and hot dogs. Now we bring in a caterer who cooks on site, which really removed a lot of work and we have better food.
”For the most part, I send out a constant stream of e-mails to the entire company reminding them of the registration deadlines,” he added. ”Many people want to participate but just forget to register and they need the reminders. There is also some personal encouragement to recruit new people. It's great to have our returning veterans but I also want to have newbie's to keep our team growing. Once someone participates, they have a good time and will return the next year.”
For Getinge, the ”next years” have been piling up impressively. The company has had a team in the Rochester Corporate Challenge since the beginning days in the early 1990s, Smith said.
”Back then,” he said, ”the company was called MDT Biologic Corporation. We have never really had truly competitive runners — we participate to gather in a social environment and have fun. Over half of our participants walk the course. However, we do have a bit of competitive smack talk among certain people that adds to the fun of it all.”
Amid the fun, there is also the focus on fitness and health.
”The healthcare industry is our profession and anything we can do to promote a healthy life style acts as a reminder of our corporate mission,” Smith said. ”For us, the Corporate Challenge gets us off the couch and provides the incentive to exercise. We have numerous examples where the Corporate Challenge provided a spring board for weight loss, in addition to others participating in other running races around Rochester throughout the year.”
That's a benefit for the ”bottom line” for people, as well as business, Smith said.
”I truly believe if you can maintain a good level of fitness, you will be more productive at work,” he said. ”With the competitive pressures that we face on a daily basis, keeping fit only helps improve the stamina and reduces the stresses that we encounter.”
Which is one of those things that hasn't changed for the 20 years of the Chase Corporate Challenge in Rochester.