Citizens Bank teamed up with L.E.A.D. USA, a national team-building organization, for a bike build with the employees at the Warwick Crowne Plaza. Unbeknownst to the employees, the high-quality Raleigh bicycles were then presented as a surprise to 27 first graders from Oakland Beach Elementary that had completed Random Acts of Kindness journals.
L.E.A.D. has been traveling nationwide for the past 20 years, working with companies to build leadership, empowerment, achievement and dynamics for their employees.
Richard Kuepper, president of L.E.A.D. USA, ran the bike build with his support staff, Sheila Giampa, Katherine McRae and Scott Bernstein. Kuepper designed the bike program, called “The Vehicle of Transformation” and described the first half as “slicing and dicing,” or moving the employees around to get to know each other.
“They need to collaborate to succeed,” said Kuepper. “True nobility is not being better than anybody else, it’s about being better than who you were yesterday.”
The second half of the build focused on customer service and attention to detail by actually putting together the bike. The employees were split into 25 groups and given a tool bag. Each tool bag intentionally left out a necessary piece, which further emphasized the need for collaboration and not allowing competitiveness to affect the finished product. Groups that were not willing to ask around for a certain tool could potentially have seen it negatively reflected on the final evaluation.
“This project is not about resources but resourcefulness,” said Kuepper. “No company has 100 percent resources. It’s all about thinking outside the box.”
After the build was completed, the employees were moved to a different room while Kuepper worked with staff and volunteers from Providence’s Red Shed Bike Shop evaluated the bicycles.
“Personalizing information makes memories stick,” Kuepper said. “This group will never forget this event and what they learned.”
The first graders surprised the group during an exercise that Kuepper led about “knowing your customer.” The children were shocked to learn that the adults had been, like them, in school, too. In order to get their input, Kuepper asked the children what it means to be a part of a team and work together. The group gave great tips, like asking questions, saying please and thank you and, most importantly, being good to the teacher.
“It was special,” said John Dionne, an employee at Citizens. “I had no idea they would actually be here.”
Paul Heatherton, principal at Oakland Beach Elementary, thanked everyone in attendance.
“The smiles on their faces show it all,” Heatherton said.
After the children were presented with the bicycles, helmets and locks, they switched gears to bike safety. Donny Green, from the Red Shed Bike Shop, led the safety lesson with his associate, Luis Rodriguez.
Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian joined Warwick Public School Superintendent Philip Thornton at the event.
“This is a fantastic event. We’re so pleased to be partnering with Citizens Bank,” said Thornton. “It’s a great surprise for the kids."