Faces of Business: find your “why” and your purpose for being
Colorado Business Roundtable's new campaign spotlights Colorado business owners
When you watch the Colorado Business Roundtable’s Faces of Business campaign, Lloyd Lewis stands out. He is committed with every fiber of his being, business and life to “giving back.”
That is loud and clear along with his sharply focused vision and belief that businesses are about the lives of real people.
Lewis says, “I believe that business success cannot be measured by bottom line profit alone. True success means our planet, communities and bottom lines are all thriving in harmony.”
Lewis is in his sixteenth year as CEO of arc Thrift Stores in Colorado. He’s led the organization to be something much bigger than just a regular nonprofit. Arc is the largest funder of advocacy for and employer of people with intellectual disabilities in Colorado.
“A significant part of feeling value beyond our compensation at arc is working on something greater than ourselves,” says Lewis. “Our work–our just cause– s simple and understandable. It’s linked to our ‘why’, our purpose for being, that is so inspiring and compelling that people are willing to engage, support, and even sacrifice to see that the vision we believe in is advanced.”
For more than 50 years, arc Thrift Stores has been an integral part of the fabric of Colorado. With multiple retail locations throughout the state, arc prides itself on being an organization that lives and breathes its mission to enhance the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
“We believe that by providing gainful and enriching employment as well as educational programming, people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other intellectual and developmental disabilities will thrive and gain independence,” says Lewis. “We celebrate individuality and believe in empowering everyone to be the best they can be, and our programs touch the lives of thousands of people every year.”
The arc Thrift Store mission tenets–advocacy, inclusion, and acceptance–strike a very personal note in Lloyd Lewis’ life. He’s the father of a 17-year old young man with Down syndrome.
“What keeps me up at night is that this vulnerable population–my son, my employees and friends–and the thousands of people in Colorado who have IDD and chronic care needs, are not being adequately protected,” he says.
“We believe when customers choose to shop thrift, they are helping their budgets and also our planet while supporting a local charity,” he says. “In many ways arc Thrift Stores are the heart of their communities.”
Proceeds generated through the sale of gently used clothing and household items at arc Thrift Stores are distributed to arc, ACL and Advocacy Denver Chapters in Colorado.
What does business mean to you?
“It’s summed up in two words, ‘Giving Back,’” says Lewis. “Businesses are not buildings. Businesses are a force for good. The faces of business powering that force for good at arc are our people with IDD who everyday bring excitement, energy, and embody purpose, pride and passion in the work they do and the independence they achieve.”
Lewis emphasizes that increasing awareness of the arc Thrift Store mission throughout Colorado will open new avenues for additional funding for our chapters so that advocacy and services for people with IDD can be strengthened.
“Business isn’t just good,” Lewis says. “Business is very good and a major contributor to quality of life in all our lives. At arc, we try to live up to that every day.”
What is the single most important decision you made for arc Thrift Stores in the past year?
“The most significant decision I made was to apply to be recognized as an essential business during the pandemic,” Lewis says. “This allowed us to remain open and provide substantial relief to Colorado citizens.”
Arc Thrift Stores chose to pivot and meet the growing needs of the Colorado community. In 2020, the retailer provided a total value of $243,850 through an estimated 196,000 pounds of product and food. The economic impact that arc Thrift Stores has had on the Colorado community through COVID so far has exceeded $56 million.
Where have you drawn inspiration during this challenging time?
“My son inspires me every day,” says Lewis. “He’s an incredible human being and I am so very proud of him.”
“The other sources and never ending reservoir of inspiration are arc Thrift Store employees with IDD,” he continues “Our programs touch the lives of thousands of people every year.”
About the Colorado Business Roundtable
The Colorado Business Roundtable engages with elected leaders, business and nonprofit leaders, and other strategic allies to improve the business climate in our state by unapologetically amplifying the voice of business across all four corners of Colorado.