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Making a Difference: Just In Time’s employees choose monthly donation program recipients

JIT Cares empowers, engages randomly selected employees to pick personally meaningful charities

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June 3, 2024

STURGEON BAY – As the CEO of Just In Time Corporation (JIT), Collin Jeanquart said he feels responsible for much more than the business itself.

Beyond the success of the distribution company’s ability to provide manufacturers with reliable fabricated products, machined components, wire and cable and more – and at exceptional, near-on-demand speed – Jeanquart said he is a committed steward of the legacy of Just In Time’s founder and former CEO – his father, Rick.

Jeanquart said he has now served as the company’s CEO for about four years, though his career at Just In Time began much earlier in his life.

Other than his time in college, he said he has worked at the company since he was 12, affording him “years of unintended tutelage, learning what his (father’s) expectations were.”

“I saw firsthand what it took for him to put the time in and do what he needed to do,” he said. “It probably helped ingrain a lot of his business philosophies into me – (which) got us to where we were when he handed the baton over.”

Like clockwork

Jeanquart said his father’s business philosophies naturally include the company’s just-in-time approach to supply chain management.

The business model, he said, enables customers to buy only a necessary quantity of a given product and receive the order as soon as the next day – shipped from Just In Time’s main, 55,000-square-foot plant or from one of its overflow facilities, all located in the Sturgeon Bay area.

“A lot of our customers are extremely lean in how they run their businesses, and they don’t want all the inventory on their shelf,” he said. “We fill that gap for them – we stock it here so they don’t have to. We plan for them, help cover spikes and shortages and different things that happen. Having that buffer stock here gives them a great degree of safety stock and flexibility in their scheduling without having to necessarily plan 100% for it.”

The next-day delivery Just In Time can provide, Jeanquart said, was a powerful differentiator when his father founded the company in 1989 – though contemporary standards have closed that gap. 

“In the ’80s, that was maybe a little less common, so it gave us a good spot to start with a lot of customers and created a great deal of value for them,” he said.

Jeanquart said Just In Time has continually evolved to provide further value via highly individualized service.

“We take all of our systems and try to accommodate whatever works for our customers, so we probably don’t have two customers we handle the same way,” he said. “We’re trying to make all of our customers’ lives easier and help make the supply chains move through more smoothly.”

Jeanquart said Just In Time’s success is a credit to the fewer than 20 employees who keep the process ticking.

JIT CEO Collin Jeanquart said Just In Time’s success is a credit to the fewer than 20 employees who keep the process ticking. Submitted Photo

“They’re extremely knowledgeable in anticipating and knowing what our customers want and how to fulfill those needs,” he said. “A lot of them have been with us for 20, 30 years. They’re a great group of people who get a lot of work done and have a lot of fun doing it.”

JIT Cares

The other business philosophies Jeanquart said he’s inherited from his father relate to taking care of Just In Time’s employees, as well as giving back to their communities.

“Rick started a lot of charitable giving early on,” he said. “He’s a big believer that none of us did this on our own – we need to give back to others. That the blessings you give to others, generally, karma has a way of coming around and giving it back to you. That’s been an important part of what he has taught us over the years – selflessly giving when you’re able to, where you’re able to and helping those who need it.”

This spirit of giving, Jeanquart said, would eventually take the form of the JIT Cares program.

He said instead of Just In Time’s leadership choosing a cause and donating on behalf of the company, this program allows a different, randomly chosen employee to choose a charity to receive a donation of $500 each month. 

“The idea of the JIT Cares program is similar to our philosophy, in terms of employees, customers, vendors, everybody alike – we’re all in this together,” he said. “We want to treat everyone well. We want to have great, long-standing, long-term relationships and give back to our employees in a positive way for everything they do for us and our customers.”

Jeanquart said the program allows for Just In Time to spread its generosity across worthy causes rather than focusing on one or two primary recipients.

“It broadened the scope of who we’ve given money to over the years,” he said. “We still do a lot of our giving to some of the other (causes we support), but it’s allowed us to give to (charities) we maybe didn’t know existed, or wouldn’t have thought of or weren’t top of mind for us.”

Jeanquart said the Door County Community Foundation has compiled a list of 501(c)(3) public charities from which employees can choose.

Employees, he said, can repeat donations to a given cause or pick a new one each time.

“A lot of them have come to us with personal stories: ‘Door CANcer supported us and gave us gas cards to get to the hospital ­– if my name’s drawn, I’d like to give money to them,’” he said. “Or, there’s a suicide prevention coalition, and one of our employees came in and said it was the anniversary of a friend of his who had taken his life four or five years ago, and he said, ‘would you put the $500 toward that this month?’ It’s just allowing them to have a little more say in some of what we’re doing.”

Each month on Just In Time’s Facebook page, Jeanquart said the company posts which charity has been chosen and the employee who chose it.

Recent examples include Northeast Wisconsin Marine Corps League 1130, Door County Scholarship Network, Brussels Wisconsin Lions Club and Door County Auxiliary House and Garden Walk.

The range of possible JIT Cares recipients, Jeanquart said, helps employees feel more connected to the community and engaged with the company and coworkers.

Due to the enduring popularity of the program borne of his father’s philosophy, Jeanquart said, he anticipates Just In Time will continue it indefinitely.

“Until somebody tells me it’s not creating value, we’re going to keep doing it,” he said.

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