Urban Ashes receives top honor in University of Michigan positive business competition

April 20, 2018

Urban Ashes selected as the first ever Platinum Awardee of the Michigan Ross Center for Positive Organizations’ Positive Business Project. 15Five, Balance Massage, Elzinga & Volkers Construction Professionals, and Root Inc. selected as Gold Awardees.

Urban Ashes logoUrban Ashes, a full-service design and fabrication company, was named the first ever Platinum Awardee in the 2018 Positive Business Project for its engagement and employment of returning citizens and at-risk youth. The Platinum Award is reserved for those positive practices that are judged truly extraordinary.

The Positive Business Project

The Center for Positive Organizations believes business has the potential to be a force for positive change and the annual Positive Business Project celebrates those organizations that are changing the world. The contest invites organizations to share success stories about how they initiated positive change through environmental stewardship, community stewardship, and/or employee empowerment.

The finalists were chosen based on the extent to which their practice aligned with positive business, the practice’s impact, and the ability of the practice to be replicated in other companies. Submissions were judged by a four-person panel comprising faculty from the Center for Positive Organizations, University of Michigan student fellows, and business leaders who have implemented positive business practices in their own organizations.

Gold Awardees were then considered by an additional committee to determine which, if any, would be elevated to the Platinum Awardee level.

Platinum Awardee Urban Ashes

Based in Saline, Michigan, Urban Ashes specializes in reclaimed wood furnishings and provides meaningful employment to our citizens who have returned from incarceration. They employ local youth who have had contact with our justice system, giving them employment, mentorship, a chance at breaking the negative cycle they are in, and ultimately the opportunity for growth and a better life.

In their submission, Urban Ashes wrote, “We feel we are giving people the opportunity to reclaim their own lives. We strongly believe that everyone, when given the chance, will strive for and often achieve their best. When people are believed in and given the opportunity to prove themselves, they can do amazing things.”

“We decided to recognize Urban Ashes as a Platinum Awardee because of the uniqueness and social impact of their process,” explains Platinum Award judge and Center for Positive Organizations Co-Founder Kim Cameron. “Few other organizations have taken steps to involve at-risk youth, mentor them, and produce such a positive benefit to society and to the environment. We were inspired by what they are doing and rate them as a truly positively deviant organization.”

Gold Awardees

15Five is a continuous performance management solution that helps employees grow and develop. This San Francisco, California-based tech company is working to build a culture of inquiry through questions, both in their weekly 15Five check-in and Question Friday. The questions are designed to solicit quality feedback to improve employee-manager relationships and performance, and allow all employees to be their best professional and playful selves.

Balance Massage Therapy
Balance Massage Therapy is an Ann Arbor, Michigan massage therapy studio that wanted to change the way their team saw a part-time position. They use a Defining Your Shift (DTS) practice to empower their employees to see their roles and careers through both a leadership and ownership lens. At the beginning of each shift, employees have the space to set intentions for the day and get information needed for a successful shift.

Elzinga & Volkers Construction Professionals
Based in Holland, Michigan, Elzinga & Volkers Construction Professionals employ 175 men and women who provide construction management, general contracting, and program management services nationwide. They were recognized for their corporate mapping program which helps employees articulate how their division and role fits within the company strategy. The U-Maps program has brought clarity regarding responsibilities, insight into personal lives, and a sense of unity to the Elzinga & Volkers team.

Root Inc.
Root Inc. helps the world’s most respected organizations realize positive strategic and culture change through a combination of disruptive methods, storytelling, and interactive experiences. Headquartered in Sylvania, Ohio, Root was recognized for its commitment to employees through its annual Rootie Awards. The Rootie Awards celebrate the people who best exemplify each of the Root values: creative excellence, servant leadership, fun, authenticity, engagement, giving, and collaborative design.

Silver Awardees

Four additional organizations were named 2018 Positive Business Project Silver Awardees: Arbor Teas, DISHER, SmartPaani, and VistaPrint. The unique and replicable positive practices of these organizations will be published in the Positive Practices Handbook.

The Platinum and Gold Awardees will be recognized main stage during the sold-out 2018 Michigan Ross Positive Business Conference on May 10-11, 2018 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Submissions for the 2019 Positive Business Project will open in the late fall/winter of 2018. Sign up here for email notifications.