Marion- Chip Cross recently partnered with Snyder Paper Corporation to provide leadership training to Snyder’s management team. In return, Cross suggested that Snyder donate his payment to the McDowell Technical Community College (MTCC) Foundation, Inc.’s endowment to support needy and deserving students at McDowell Tech.
While the initial idea for “bartering” his services to Snyder for a donation to the MTCC Foundation came from an annual fundraising auction by the Marion Rotary Club, Cross’ suggestion ironically takes a page straight out of one of his training modules on John Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” Maxwell is an internationally renowned author and foremost authority on leadership development.
One of Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws is the “Law of Addition,” which suggests that true leadership focuses on creating value for others; it is an act of service. It is not unlike the Christian concept of developing a servant’s heart, as described in Phillipians 2:4-7. It is a familiar construct for Cross. He regularly coordinates packing of thousands of food boxes for people in food insecure hotspots around the world through Pleasant Gardens Baptist Church, where he and his wife Penny attend. Each year, another group of volunteers he coordinates sends thousands of “thank you” notes to medical and emergency services personnel serving on the front lines in crisis situations, such as the COVID-19 crisis.
While Cross had pitched similar proposals to other businesses for whom he does training, Gary Franklin, CEO of Snyder Paper Corporation, was the first to embrace the idea and make a $15,000 donation to the MTCC Foundation. Cross was introduced to Franklin by McDowell County resident Bruce Spake, General Manager at Snyder. It was the perfect way for Franklin to model leadership behavior to his management team by creating an ongoing act of service to others. The donation will allow deserving students to pursue higher education at McDowell Tech for many years to come.
In recognition of Snyder’s donation, the MTCC Board of Trustees, in accordance with college policy, approved the naming of three classrooms in the William Harold Smith Building at McDowell Tech in honor of Snyder Paper Corporation, Chip and Penny Cross, Gene and Virginia Cross (Chip’s parents) and Frank and Wilma Daniels (Penny’s parents). A dedication ceremony was held on Thursday, August 18th to unveil plaques to be placed outside each of the newly-named classrooms.
Cross is excited about the possibility of others following Snyder’s lead and making similar donations in exchange for tailored leadership training for their employees. Chip is an experienced trainer and for five years was Director of Leadership Development for Western Carolina Industries, a 550-member Employers’ Association in Western North Carolina. In that capacity, he facilitated leadership training for over 10,000 leaders in more than 250 companies during his tenure with the organization.
After consulting with Franklin, for example, Cross developed a series of twelve modules that were given to each of three groups with 12 management team members each to address a variety of leadership development topics: Personality Profiles; The Transition from Doer to Leader; Conflict Resolution; Coaching; People Skills; Leading Up; Leading Across; Leading Down; Theory of Constraints; The Leadership Challenge; The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership; and The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.
“The feedback from the training was phenomenal,” said Frankin, the Snyder CEO. “Chip’s style of teaching fits perfectly with Snyder’s culture.”
His comments were echoed by others at the company. “Since we started the training, we can see a positive difference in the way our supervisors are communicating and motivating their teams,” said Steve Bumgardner, Vice-President for Manufacturing. Spake, the General Manager, commented, “Everyone seemed to enjoy the training and they got practical ideas that they could use every day on the job.”
In appreciation for what he describes as an amazing partnership, Cross has offered to provide Snyder four additional training sessions at no additional cost over the next year, covering such topics as production bottlenecks and solutions, facilitating a panel discussion of successful leaders, lessons from “leadership movies” and “leadership books,” including other works by John Maxwell. “I was impressed by the enthusiastic involvement from Snyder’s leadership team and their commitment to excellence, and I am most appreciative to Bruce and Gary for providing this opportunity and making it happen!”
“We are grateful to Chip and Snyder Paper for their selfless support of our students,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President. “The support from our college community makes our institution stronger, and we appreciate Mr. Franklin and his staff for their philanthropic act, as well as his commitment to excellence which initiated this partnership. We hope others will follow his excellent example to help fulfill our institutional vision to Learn & Grow.”