Steve Rook speaks humbly about the good works his company, Larson Heating, Air & Plumbing, does for the community.
“It’s something we do. It’s not something that we like to talk about,” Rook says.
Rook, owner of the Nixa business founded in 1992, says he feels sharing his business success with others is simply the right thing to do.
“We have a huge blessing, a huge opportunity, and I think it’s not for the benefit of us; it’s for the benefit of others,” Rook says. “We have to give back. If you’re not, you’re doing it for the wrong reason.”
To help structure giving, the company implemented the Larson Loves campaign. Each month, the company selects an area nonprofit to recognize, support and publicize. Larson donates digital billboard space and banner ads on OzarksFirst.com.
Each organization is also given a two-minute paid TV spot with host Jeremy Rabe on “Ozarks FOX AM.” The segments, which are aired twice, help the organizations promote upcoming campaigns or service projects and solicit volunteers and support. Larson then helps amplify the audience by sharing on its social media platforms, website and YouTube channel.
Rook says he asks employees for suggestions for causes that are meaningful to them but that may not get widespread recognition.
“There are some that their budgets don’t allow them to be at the forefront,” he says. “We want to look for some of those that have ties within the organization.”
Employees also volunteer their time for a variety of causes.
During the start of the pandemic when schools were closed, Larson was one of the companies that partnered with a church to deliver meals to children who had lost access to the school lunches their families depended on for nutrition.
“They’d bag them up and we’d line up our trucks and for an hour every Tuesday morning, we’d go around and deliver those lunches,” Rook says.
Employee enthusiasm for a project in conjunction with Council of Churches of the Ozarks was so great that Rook suspects they could have done more.
To encourage employee participation in philanthropic efforts, Larson creates contests and offers incentives. In 2021, the team created four large tubs with managers’ names on them to encourage donations for a hygiene products drive benefiting Care to Learn. At the end of the month, employees got to lob water balloons at the manager with the most donations. They doubled their goal and ended up with eight tubs full of products.
“We just want to help,” Rook says. “We want to take care of needs, to take care of people. However we can do that, we want to do that.”
A baked goods vendor at Farmers Market of the Ozarks expanded to a brick-and-mortar operation; the first lending center for Old Missouri Bank opened; and London Calling Pasty Co. added a new food truck.