15 Mar Good360 CRP Spotlight: How Morningday Community Solutions Succeeds by Helping Others
Before Greg Bales started Morningday Community Solutions (MCS), he knew nothing about creating or running a nonprofit.
That didn’t stop him from eventually establishing one of Good360’s most active Community Redistribution Partners in the country, serving some 350 charitable organizations in South Florida. Bales estimates that MCS has collectively saved its members over $3 million in home-improvement costs since 2010.
None of this would be surprising if you knew a little something about Bales.
When he was 15 years old, he convinced his parents to let him get a job at a Publix Supermarket, where he went to work in the bakery each morning at 4 a.m. to earn money for his first car. Bales bought that car, and went on to build a successful 24-year career at Publix, ascending from dishwasher to bakery manager to in-house trainer.
From there, he became the Supply Chain Business Lead for all of the fresh departments at Publix. He was responsible for designing, piloting, and implementing new software systems into the fresh products departments (produce, meat, deli and bakery) so they could better monitor inventory levels of raw materials and finished goods.
In 2006, Bales retired from Publix. But it wasn’t long before his entrepreneurial streak led him to jump into the real estate business and create Morningday Investments. (“Morningday” is what his toddler daughter used to say instead of “tomorrow.”)
As a real estate investor, Bales purchased, rehabbed and sold at least 50 homes throughout South Florida. With every property sold, he took some of his profits and turned to an organization that built homes for foster families.
“Every time I would flip a house, I would call them and ask: ‘What do you need?’” he said.
If the organization needed a bathroom remodeled, for example, he would get it done using the same contractors that he used in his rehab business.
“I could put in a kitchen for $3,000 that would cost the charity $9,000 for the same work,” he said.
One day, Bales heard a speaker at an event talking about starting nonprofits. Around the same time, he had a meeting at The Home Depot and learned about its Framing Hope partnership with Good360. The program gives nonprofits access to Home Depot’s homebuilding and hardware supplies at drastically reduced costs.
The serendipitous events ignited an idea: Why not create a nonprofit to help low-income families with their home renovations, and partner with The Home Depot and Good360 to get the needed supplies?
“It was a lightbulb moment,” he recalled. “There are a lot of organizations doing a lot of good work in our area. I didn’t want to add another one. But I wanted a way to support them. The Good360 model of extending nonprofit dollars through product donations just made a lot of sense to me.”
In 2010, Bales started Morningday with a small 2,500-square-foot warehouse and a pickup truck. The next year, MCS was temporarily approved to become just one of a handful of Framing Hope warehouses in the country and the first in Florida.
In August of 2012, MCS became a Good360 CRP partner, and doubled its warehouse space to 5,000-square-feet. Eventually, the facility would double yet again to its current size of 10,000 square feet.
Today, MCS has established 20 retail donation partnerships through Good360 and participates in our Direct Truckload Program. As with every CRP, the organization charges local nonprofits a small administration fee to get access to its warehouse, where they can find everything from homebuilding supplies to office equipment.
Drawing on his long corporate career at Publix as well as his experience running a successful estate business, Bales operates the nonprofit like a retail business. He’s constantly focused on anticipating what his “customers” need, and keeps a close eye on the merchandise coming into the warehouse to make sure he doesn’t get too many items that are hard to move off the shelves.
“Working in retail for 24 years gave me a lot of operational experience in how to merchandise, understand customer needs, manage employees, and manage inventory,” Bales said. “When I started MCS, I used many of those retail principles to build a retail-type store that our members can use. Basically, I run MCS as a business with the goal of it being completely self-sufficient.”
One big lesson in operating MCS, Bales said, was learning how to get creative with the products. When items arrive broken, or if they’re not moving for some reason, Bales always finds ways to upcycle them into usable things. For example, he’s turned damaged doors into conference tables and broken windows into picture frames that now hang in the MCS office.
MCS also puts a fair amount of focus on marketing with the help of a part-time marketing manager. The organization regularly communicates with members via email, and Bales is a frequent guest speaker at community events.
By developing close relationships with local organizations and businesses, MCS also has been able to benefit from some unexpected donations, such as furnishings that were recently obtained free of charge from several community banks that were closing their doors.
All of these efforts paid off last year when the organization broke even for the first time.
Bales said the key to the success of Morningday Community Solutions has been pretty simple: Look for ways to be helpful wherever and whenever possible.
“Once I became an entrepreneur,” he said, “I came to the realization that to be successful you need to help other people get what they want and the rest gets figured out. That’s what Good360 does all day long. They give me access to items that I wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and I can pass it along to nonprofits to help them help more people.”
Learn more about Morningday Community solutions by watching the video below: