Bridging cultures for a greater cause

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February 01, 2017

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Northland Controls volunteers and GRID staff celebrate the completion of the installation with the clients.
Northland Controls volunteers and GRID staff celebrate the completion of the installation with the clients.

What compels a company to challenge itself to race tuk-tuks across India, help schools in Rwanda, or trek across the Navajo Nation on horseback? Well, for Northland Controls it all began with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, according to CEO Pierre Trapanese.

“It’s really just a long-term vision,” he said. “And ours was that we wanted be a global service provider within ten years.” In order to make that vision a reality, he realized he would need to develop a company culture that encouraged collaboration and embraced the unknown, while also giving back to communities across the globe.

“It’s so important to be open to new ideas,” Mr. Trapanese said. “I really wanted to encourage our people to not be afraid of what’s new or different.”

This willingness to embrace the unknown combined with his personal penchant for adventure ultimately paved the way for the inaugural Northland Challenge, an 18-day tuk-tuk race across India in 2008. Since then, the Challenge has evolved into a biannual opportunity for employees to collaborate, experience new cultures, and make a lasting impact in a community.

Northland Controls volunteers install a solar module on the roof.
Northland Controls volunteers install a solar module on the roof.
Last October, GRID had the opportunity to host 34 Northland Controls employees in California’s North Coast for their 2016 Northland Challenge. Over the course of two days, employees worked with community members and volunteers to install solar for 6 tribal families of the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria. Their work will save the families over $220,000 in electricity costs over the lifetimes of the systems.

Mr. Trapanese was proud he and his team were able to take part. “I very much appreciated the ‘it takes a village’ mentality of bringing solar to the community. And it was clear that the impact on the homeowners would be life changing.”

Thank you, Northland Controls, for making GRID part of your 2016 Challenge, and for being a shining example of corporate social responsibility.

Check out more photos from the Challenge here!

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