BiS profile: Michael Winckler, Goodwill of the Coastal Empire

Posted: Mon, 10/19/2015 – 10:26pm

BiS profile: Michael Winckler, Goodwill of the Coastal Empire

By: Carmel Hearn


Position: President/CEO

Organization: Goodwill of the Coastal Empire

Resume: Winckler joined Goodwill of the Coastal Empire in January 2015. He previously served as vice president of workforce development for Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia for 10 years where he was responsible for oversight of vocational rehabilitation services, career development services, government contracts and business services.

What is your hometown and educational history?

I was raised in Richmond, Va., and lived there until moving to Savannah in January. I earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Virginia Commonwealth University.

How did you get involved with Goodwill?

Before joining Goodwill, I served in executive roles in operations and finance for three private sector regional companies. In 2005, I was hired as the vice president of contract services for Goodwill of Central and Coastal Virginia.

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered as CEO of Goodwill of the Coastal Empire?

Our organization experienced rapid growth over the past several years, and we recognized the need to pause and improve our infrastructure and financial resources so we can be effective in all we do going forward.

Describe the Goodwill organization during your years in Richmond.

During my tenure, the organization’s annual revenue grew from $17 million in 2005 to $63 million in 2014. My team quadrupled the number of people served and placed annually to their current levels of 19,000 served and 2,600 placed for 2014.

My team and I also launched several new business lines including eWaste Recycling, Greenhouse Operations and Goodwill Staffing Solutions. Plus, we developed warehouse and logistics projects for the U.S. Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency.

What trends do you see in donations, involvement and outreach efforts?

I see a greater awareness of the role that Goodwill is playing in local recycling efforts by reselling many of the items that are donated, including household items and consumer electronics such as personal computers and laptops.

I also see the community’s appreciation for great values and “buried” treasure our shoppers can find every day.

I recognize that we will continue to have a great need to continue our work with members of our community that have experienced chronic unemployment or underemployment.

What is one of the organization’s greatest needs or challenges?

Donations. As we have expanded the number of stores we operate, the need for more donations has also increased. We are in great need of gently used clothing and household items to be sold in our stores so we can continue to fund and grow our mission services.

What aspects of the organization do you see changing over the next five years?

You will see us becoming even more focused on the impact and outcomes that we generate from our mission services. Our goal is to help our clients gain the necessary hard and soft skills to be successful on the job right out of the gate.

As we move forward, we are developing stronger soft skills training programs in particular. In addition, we are improving the training and professional development opportunities for our associates so they experience success and career advancement within Goodwill just as our clients do outside Goodwill.

You’ll also see improvements in how we connect with donors and shoppers. And, as our community and area business requirements evolve, we are adapting and changing in concert with their respective needs so we stay relevant.

What sets Goodwill apart from others in the field?

As a social enterprise committed to working with those who have obstacles to employment, Goodwill is self-sustaining for the most part. Our business of accepting gently used goods and re-selling them has helped fund our mission programs for 50 years, and our operation allows us to hire many of the people we serve.

We strive to foster inclusiveness where people with obstacles and challenges can participate fully in our workforce, give back and achieve their highest level of self-sufficiency.

What aspect of your organization’s mission makes you most proud?

We change people’s lives through the power of work. My passion is focused on helping individuals achieve their work-related goals and the impact that those efforts have on the individuals that we serve and their families.

What is a little known fact about Goodwill?

More than 80 percent of the household items donated are resold or repurposed. That represents millions of pounds of solid waste that do not end up in our landfills.

What has surprised you most about working with Goodwill?

We have a diversified and complex system of functional areas, all of which contribute to our community impact. We function as a small conglomerate with many seemingly unrelated operational units but with the singular purpose of helping people help themselves through the power of work.

What’s the best thing to happen to you since you started working with Goodwill?

I uncovered my passion for helping people and I became involved in an enterprise with a wonderful purpose and community impact.

Did anyone influence your decision to work with Goodwill?

It was a combination of important people in my life who led me to Goodwill. My parents raised my brother, sister and me in an active Catholic family. We were always taught to appreciate what we had as a family, to be mindful of the needs of others and to lend a helping hand.

I also had the opportunity to work for a wonderful family-owned grocery business while I was in high school and college. Their values-based, servant-leadership approach to business and the like-minded values of their associates left a positive and lasting impression on me.

Could you provide a short description of the organization and its mission?

Goodwill of the Coastal Empire, Inc. is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization with more than 850 employees. In 2014, Goodwill provided intensive job training and career development services to 9,885 people and placed 2,421 into competitive employment. Goodwill serves 33 counties in Georgia and South Carolina, operating 17 locations, and five Job Connection Centers. Goodwill accepts tax-deductible donations of clothing, household items, computers and car donations to help fund our mission.

When was Goodwill of the Coastal Empire founded?

Goodwill was founded in 1902 in Boston by the Rev. Edgar J. Helms, a Methodist minister and early social innovator. Mr. Edward Bartlett brought the nonprofit to Savannah 50 years ago, in 1965, with eight employees and a $60,000 budget. Today, Goodwill of the Coastal Empire has more than 850 employees and a budget of $27-plus million.

What services does Goodwill offer to small businesses?

We provide potential employers pre-screening, job fairs, training and hiring process support services. We also offer soft skills training and customer service training.

Who is/was your professional mentor?

I am working with two long-time Goodwill CEOs who have been serving as my mentors over the past year or so. I have been fortunate to have had several excellent business executives take an interest in my professional development, and I am eternally grateful to those individuals for sharing their wisdom and insights.

I was taught to set aside time each week to recharge and for quiet reflection. And I do, most of the time.

Are you involved in any community organizations?

During my time in Richmond, I was active in my community through the Rotary, serving on two not-for-profit boards, coaching youth football and serving as a Merit Badge counselor for my sons’ Boy Scout troop.

I anticipate becoming involved and invested in community interests here in the Coastal Empire in the upcoming months and years.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I enjoy spending time with my family camping, boating, playing golf and exploring the Coastal Empire. My wife, Renee, and I met in college and have been together ever since. We have been married 23 years. She is a physical therapist and an amazing mother to our three sons, Ethan, 17; Brett, 15; and Owen, 12.

We spend a lot of time outdoors and love to stay active in the community.

What are three things that might surprise someone about you?

I love camping and backpacking, I am an avid cribbage player and I have a knack for quoting movie lines.