Starting a Business

Building Up Teams--and Communities

These entrepreneurs help companies become teams, and they make it easy to give back.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the February 2009 issue of . Subscribe »

Lain Hensley has always had a passion for helping those in need. In 2001, he saw the opportunity to do just that when he was hired by Lucent Technologies' supply chain team to get employees working together. "They were going through a reconstruction and wanted to get their team aligned around a vision, and we wanted to do something different to get them there," says Hensley, 41, co-founder of training and team building company Odyssey Teams. "I thought, what if we use the training experience we've created and allow the participants to give back at the same time?"

So instead of running a typical training program, he had the Lucent employees work with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to construct homes for dogs. It was a success.

Since that first project, Hensley, along with co-founder Bill John, 45, and the rest of their team, have developed an entire training course around helping others. To date, the groups participating with Odyssey have given away about 20,000 bikes to at-risk kids and constructed 1,000 prosthetic hands. The Chico, California, company has done well for itself, too, with sales of about $1.5 million in 2008. But Hensley says it's about more than what they've created in the training sessions. "After they work with us, because of the enthusiasm of the employees, many of the companies continue to support these causes," he says. "We're inspiring a whole movement to do good in these communities."

JJ Ramberg is the host of MSNBC's small-business program Your Business and co-founder of GoodSearch.com.

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