‘It’s not enough to be successful, we must strive to be significant’

Investors’ Cummings, in Manufacturing Day keynote, says putting community first will help state recover faster

Kevin Cummings saluted manufacturers in New Jersey for their efforts during the pandemic.

Their efforts, he said, are helping to prove what he always hoped was true: You can be successful in corporate America while aiming to do good.

“I’ve often asked myself, even before the pandemic, can you be successful in corporate America and still do business by a set of values that aims for the greater good?” he said. “And I think the answer is not only is it possible, but it’s preferable, especially today.”

Cummings, delivering the keynote last Friday at the virtual 2020 Manufacturing Day, which was presented by the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, said being selfless is key.

“The secret can be summed up in three words: Put others first,” he told the audience. “When we strive for personal success, we think only about ourselves. We are being selfish, instead of selfless. When you truly care about other people and put their needs first, they follow you, not because they have to or were told to, but most importantly, they want to.

“And I’ve learned over the years, that it’s the servant leader, not the self-serving leader, who wins trust, respect and loyalty.”

John Kennedy, the CEO of NJMEP, said the state’s manufacturing sector has been an unsung hero during the COVID-19 crisis.

“These guys quietly went to work and stayed at work,” he said.

Manufacturers, Kennedy said, not only produced a lot of what we buy, but almost always the containers or packaging it comes in.

Despite all that happened, there was never a serious concern about the ability to get food, water, gas or utilities, he said.

That’s living by one of the golden rules of business, Cummings told the crowd.

“It’s not enough to be successful, we must strive to be significant,” he said. “And it’s moving from success to significance that enables a company to create a purpose and a legacy, and one that has a lasting impact on its customers and the communities we serve.”

Cummings noted the efforts of Short Hills-based Investors Bank and its foundation, which he said has awarded more than $2.4 million to more than 400 organizations providing health care, food, shelter and other necessary services.

Investors employees, he said, not only worked around the clock to secure Paycheck Protection Program grants and provide the other services you would expect from a bank, but Cummings said they also were working to help the most vulnerable in the communities Investors serves.

“They called elderly customers to check in on them, made food deliveries to those unable to leave their homes and they packed and distributed hundreds of lunches for the frontline health care workers, who are the heroes in this pandemic,” he said.

While acknowledging the obvious — that the pandemic has changed us all in so many ways — Cummings hinted that there was one silver lining: Companies are rethinking how they do business and why they do business.

He encouraged manufacturers to see the possibilities.

“It’s not all gloom and doom,” he said. “We will not think forward by remaining pessimistic. As business leaders, we need to push forward. And I think all businesses can make a difference. We can all be a value.”

Cummings said Investors has lived by its core values of cooperation, character, commitment and community. And he encouraged others to do the same.

“Being a good corporate citizen creates self-sufficiency, encourages growth and, most importantly, it strengthens our communities.”

For Investors, it was about remembering its past.

“We work daily, to be true to our roots as a community bank, contributing to the prosperity of our local communities,” he said. “We think it is about doing business in a way that is most beneficial for all. Striving to be of service to others, and to society as a whole, is our greater purpose.”