Planet Community Stewardship Award Winner: Charity by design

August 2, 2018 -  By
Employees at Nemetschek Vectorworks organize an outing each quarter to clean up their designated road for the Adopt- A-Road project.

Employees at Nemetschek Vectorworks organize an outing each quarter to clean up their designated road for the Adopt-
A-Road project. Photo: Nemetschek Vectorworks

For one architectural software firm, giving never gets old.

When 32 Nemetschek Vectorworks employees participated in a Habitat for Humanity project in 2006, they laid the foundation for homes—and built a long-term commitment to volunteerism in the process.

“Since then, our desire to play a larger role within our community spread like wildfire among employees,” says Eric Gilbey, landscape industry specialist at the Columbia, Md.-based design software provider. “I think everyone who helped felt good about what they contributed, and many of those participants are still around today, organizing more community events.”

Eight years later, the company delves into about four projects annually.

At Christmas time, it donated gifts for D.C. General Hospital’s Homeless Children’s Playtime Project. In October, workers trumpeted the value of urban space by helping transform metered parking spots into temporary public places.

And every day on the job, the design software company embraces sustainable practices to reduce its carbon footprint.

“Over the years, the employees at Nemetschek Vectorworks have become closer as colleagues and have continued to grow as individuals through dedicating their time to others,” says Stewart Rom, CMO.

Core causes
Perhaps closest to Nemetschek Vectorworks’s heart are causes like Adopt-A-Road and Renewal & Remembrance, which Gilbey says have had a lasting impact on employees.

In 2013, staff members purchased holiday gifts for a homeless child via the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project. Photo: Nemetschek Vectorworks

In 2013, staff members purchased holiday gifts for
a homeless child via the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project. Photo: Nemetschek Vectorworks

For the environmentally minded company, Adopt-A-Road isn’t just any volunteer project. Employees have been pitching in on local highways quarterly ever since 2011.

“It’s something we have stamped our name on,” Gilbey says. “It’s our road and our responsibility to keep it clean, so there’s a greater sense of pride and ownership from the employees with that project.”

Meanwhile, Nemetschek Vectorworks has participated in the Professional Landcare Network’s (PLANET’s) Renewal & Remembrance event every year since 2010, joining hundreds of others from the Green Industry in enhancing the Arlington National Cemetery grounds. Nemetschek Vectorworks has donated manpower and equipment, limed, participated in the children’s planting program and more.

“People begin asking about it months in advance,” Gilbey says of the event. “We’ve heard from many who have family in Arlington and, for them, this is especially meaningful to return and give back every year.”

In 2013, the company also demonstrated its big heart through sponsoring and participating in the Gingertown initiative, in which teams build gingerbread towns in a timed competition to benefit charity.

Nemetschek Vectorworks employees work together to build a Red Hots tower for the annual Gingertown event in Washington, D.C. Photo: Nemetschek Vectorworks

Nemetschek Vectorworks employees work together to build a Red Hots tower for the annual Gingertown event in Washington, D.C. Photo: Nemetschek Vectorworks

The Nemetschek Vectorworks team, comprising 15 people from various departments, collaborated on a tower made of Red Hots. It was a meaningful team-building project that allowed employees from different areas of the company to work together. “Our architects actually drew plans for the building and then assembled a team to practice building a model of it in our office,” Gilbey says.

The day of the event, everyone contributed. Some constructed, some were in charge of candy and others helped with time management. The graphics department got involved, too, making the team aprons with a custom-made logo.

With such collaborations, “Our colleagues gain a new understanding of how certain aspects of the industry drive the development of our products,” Rom says. “We therefore get a better understanding of the role we each play and how we each contribute to the bottom line.”

Gingertown Photo: Nemetschek Vectorworks

Photo: Nemetschek Vectorworks

Eye toward the future
The architectural software provider does its part in ways other than volunteerism, too. Its support of college students, for instance, is setting the stage for strong industry leadership tomorrow.

To support aspiring designers, Nemetschek Vectorworks provides free design software to college and graduate students. It hosts student design contests featuring passes
to major industry trade shows and other prizes.

Then there’s the Vectorworks Young Architects Student Scholarship, which awards $2,500 to an outstanding student pursuing an architecture degree in the U.S.

And this May, the company launched the Vectorworks Design Scholarship, giving students the opportunity to win up to $10,000 and free Vectorworks software and training for their schools.

“Students, no matter what industry they choose for their career, are the future. That’s what they represent,” Gilbey says. “With that in mind, helping to educate students the best we can with our knowledge of the world will hopefully encourage them to do more.”

As the rest of the year unwinds, Nemetschek Vectorworks will stay committed to its current lineup of volunteer projects. “And then, who knows?” Gilbey says. “We’re always searching for ways to contribute to our community, so hopefully more opportunities come our way and we’ll have even more great things to share with you next year.”

At a Glance

Company: Nemetschek Vectorworks

Location: Columbia, Md.

CEO: Sean Flaherty

SELECT PROJECT LISTING
▶ Adopt-A-Road Program
Since July 2011, Nemetschek Vectorworks employees have volunteered to clean up litter on the roadside a minimum of four times annually.
▶ Renewal & Remembrance
Since 2010, company employees and their families have participated in the Professional Landcare Network’s (PLANET’s) annual beautification of Arlington National Cemetery. They’ve helped with liming, the children’s planting program and other projects.
Gingertown
Nemetschek Vectorworks participated in this fundraiser for various charities for the first time in 2013, both as a sponsor and participant. It donated $7,500 to the cause and spent hours designing a gingerbread tower in the weeks leading up to the event. All the gingerbread creations and proceeds were distributed to various charities.

About the Author:

Geraci is a freelance writer based in Cleveland. She has worked as a professional journalist for more than 15 years, including six years as a writer for the Chicago Tribune. A graduate of Allegheny College and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Geraci began her career as an editor at a newswire service in Washington, D.C., where she edited and distributed press releases from the White House and congressional leaders. She went on to become the community news reporter at the Jackson Hole Guide newspaper, winning two national feature writing awards. Her other experience includes working as a book editor in Chicago and as a professor of business communications at Cleveland State University.

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