Carousel's Project With Ronald McDonald House Helps Inside And Out

Feel-Good Story

Sometimes it's not about the money.

Carousel Industries, an Exeter, R.I.-based solution provider, recently completed an IT project for the Ronald McDonald House, implementing an extensive Avaya voice and voice data solution for the 100,000-square-foot house in Chicago, pictured here.

The project, which included donated equipment and many discounted services, not only helped Ronald McDonald House Charities better serve families going through a difficult time, but it also had Carousel employees feeling good about the company and themselves. Here's how Carousel got involved and what was accomplished.


Carousel has counted McDonald's, not the Ronald McDonald House organization, as a customer for several years and when the opportunity to support the charitable group came up, the VAR jumped at the idea to compete for the bid, said Robert Acerra, national account manager at Carousel, pictured here.

The Carousel team worked closely with Avaya and other companies and was able to secure all the equipment that would get donated, a value of more than $150,000, Acerra said. "They were looking at going with a refurbished phone system but when you donate everything, it's a no-brainer," Acerra said. "Because we have a relationship with McDonald's, we were able to convince Carousel [top management] and Avaya that it was a good cause and they wanted to step up."

Networking Experts

Carousel installed about 125 IP phones along with 18 Avaya 4524GT-PWR data switches (pictured here), IP Office and more. Carousel has done work to support nonprofit organizations in the past, but nothing on this scale, he added.

"We've donated equipment, we've donated labor but there aren't many of this size and scope going up around the county," Acerra said.

Added Benefits

In addition to helping a customer, the Ronald McDonald House project boosted the morale for all employees, whether they were directly involved in the project or not, Acerra said.

"Everyone wants a chance to help others out, no matter how big or small. This is an opportunity for Carousel's employees to give back to the community," he said. "It also sends a message to all our employees that our company encourages this sort of behavior. I can see from the various internal newsletters that Carousel has groups of employees that regularly contribute their time. The list of community involvement seems to be long, and I believe it is part of our corporate culture."

Recruitment Efforts

In addition to a boost in morale, Acerra believes the project could help recruit and retain employees who are interested in working for companies with philanthropic efforts.

"Our culture is extremely important to us, and we are committed to bringing on new talent that also embraces our values and principles," he said. "Having been a sales director, I know that recruiters 'market' these sort of activities. It isn't so much to pat ourselves on the back, as it is to make sure that we are hiring people that share the same values and community spirit."

Pictured here, an Avaya phone in one of the guest rooms.

Hard Work Pays Off

While Carousel had an "in" with Ronald McDonald House Charities because of its work with McDonald's corporate headquarters, Acerra points out that the solution provider had to work hard to develop that relationship in the first place.

Carousel lost its first bid with McDonald's because it couldn't perform the work on a tight turnaround, but Acerra said the company was impressed and soon won other deals, including some break/fix work, before landing a managed services contract that was recently extended to 2015.

"We manage all their voice and voice-related data and visual communications throughout the country for their headquarters, campus buildings and regional offices," said Acerra.

Pictured here, Allison Mabbott, senior communications manager for Ronald McDonald House Charities, uses one of the phones deployed by Carousel.

Many Thanks

Joseph Endress, a corporate vice president at McDonald's and a member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities board, recently sent a thank you to Carousel that read, "Thank you again for all of the assistance with the new house. Fortunately and unfortunately, the house has been full several times since we opened. Without Carousel's generosity and assistance, these families would be on their own to find housing during this critical time in their child's life. We cannot thank you enough."

Pictured here are Eric Bonnecarre, project manager for Carousel, and Cathy Berk, family care director at Ronald McDonald House.