Company founder J.R. Simplot began contributing to charitable causes in the 1940s, a philanthropic legacy employees at the company’s Don Plant in Pocatello continue to respect and support.
The J.R. Simplot Company already contributes significantly to the overall area economy. Its Don Plant provides employment for 350 people, and the company pays more than $2 million each year in municipal taxes. The Simplot facility produces 1 million tons of fertilizer a year along with feed phosphates for the beef, dairy, swine and poultry industries, which together have an annual $30 million economic impact on southeastern Idaho.
Besides being a successful businessman, J. R. Simplot always believed in giving back, and his big-hearted ways are carried on today by employees who support events like the annual J.R. Simplot Memorial Golf Tournament that benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities of Idaho. The company has sponsored an annual national high school track and field meet called Simplot Games since 1979, and is also the largest corporate contributor to the United Way of Southeastern Idaho.
“We have always been a company that supports the communities where we live and work,” says Bill Whitacre, J.R. Simplot Company president and CEO. “Our communities help support our business, and in turn we are committed to giving back to those communities.”
Helping to Meet Basic Needs
Shilo Roubidoux, a human resources manager at the Don Plant, has actively participated in local United Way fundraising efforts.
“As a volunteer of the United Way board and a contributor, I've had the experience of seeing how $1 donated to United Way can be stretched to more than $3 for the nonprofit agencies that United Way supports,” Roubidoux says. “They help children, senior citizens and families in our local communities to meet basic needs for their physical and mental health when they cannot afford to meet these needs on their own.”
She points out that 100 percent of employee contributions go to support local agencies and causes. With the company matching employee contributions dollar for dollar, Simplot gave more than $85,000 in donations to United Way during 2013.
Bedrock of the Campaign
Margaret Ganyo is executive director of United Way of Southeastern Idaho, and in her 10 years at the agency Simplot employees have provided nearly $750,000 in support. She says the money goes toward initiatives that include food banks, homeless shelters, domestic violence houses, children's reading programs, Meals on Wheels, veterans' housing, suicide hotlines, and health care and dental costs for people in need.
“Simplot is the bedrock of our fundraising campaign each year, with strong support from union, non-union and management employees,” Ganyo says. “Thank goodness for Simplot, because they are a huge part of how United Way funds all our services.”