Who: Jukka-Pekka Keronen, chief operating officer, Goodwill Suomi Oy in Kotka, Finland, and Casey McGrady, vice president of retail and marketing for Goodwill in Wooster, Ohio .
What: Keronen and McGrady toured multiple facilities in Goodwill Tenneva’s service area. The two were here to learn what they might emulate from Goodwill Tenneva, they were specifically interested in the process of receiving and preparing donations for sale in Goodwill’s retail stores. The focus on processing efficiencies helps Goodwill direct all funds possible to its mission of helping those with employment needs and challenges.
“I’m here to learn how we can get more donations and develop donation centers. We are heading to Helsinki and I would like to build up a strategy,” Keronen said.
“(Keronen) serves in a smaller Goodwill and they are going to be looking closely at our processes and our logistics,” Goodwill Industries of Tennva spokeswoman Diana Meredith said.
John Cunningham, a Goodwill International Industries consultant, set up the visit.
Why: Morris Baker, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Tenneva, led the visit.
“This is a great opportunity for us to learn from other Goodwills and collaborate for continued improvement,” Baker said. “It is also a great honor for Goodwill Tenneva that Jukka and Casey chose to come to Kingsport to see the work that we are committed to in our communities. We strive daily to be the best we can be, and it is our goal to continue to grow our business success so that we can grow our mission success. We want to continue to grow the job opportunities and job services programs that are needed in our region.”
After the tour: Both visitors said they were impressed with Goodwill Tenneva, and in love with East Tennessee and Southern hospitality.
“I found this trip really interesting, because the Kingsport area is quite similar to where we are in Finland, and now I get to see where our Goodwill organization can be in a couple of years ... It gives me confidence that we can be where you are one day,” said Keronen.
McGrady commented on hospitality, of both the region and Goodwill Tenneva. “My first impressions,” he said, “Everyone here is so accommodating, so much more hospitable, but I also see how similar your organization is to ours ... I’m blown away by your willingness to share and help grow ideas. I’m ready to go back to Wooster now and get to work. Thank you.”