This year GreatAmerica Financial Services Corporation celebrated its 25th anniversary. The company, which began operations in Cedar Rapids in 1992, has earned a reputation as a great place to work. In addition to being a leading business and employer, GreatAmerica and its owners, Tony and Magda Golobic, have also committed to making an impact in the community through their philanthropy.
Several years after immigrating to the United States, Tony and Magda moved to Cedar Rapids, and it didn’t take them long before they knew that they wanted to start a business here. That became a reality when they established their new company, GreatAmerica, in Cedar Rapids.
“Cedar Rapids has always had an excellent workforce,” recalls Tony. “The people here are well-educated and hardworking, and they believe in doing the right thing.” The couple feels that their employees are, in large part, responsible for the success of GreatAmerica, and this fact prompted the Golobics to seek ways to give back.
“Philanthropy means supporting our community,” explains Tony. “We’ve always felt it is the right thing to do.” The couple believes that for them, philanthropy is about improving the quality of life for the community. The family, including their children, are confident that philanthropy will be a part of their business for as long as it exists. “The great workforce has given us an advantage over our competition,” says Tony. “We’re family, and we’re committed to making sure Cedar Rapids remains a good place to live.”
With over 500 employees, it makes sense that the Golobics believe a strong Cedar Rapids community and corridor is essential to the future of GreatAmerica. Tony explains, “when we started the company, we wanted to build a very different kind of company – a company that would genuinely care about its employees, its customers and community and a company that would always try to do the right thing, no matter what. The idea of treating employees like family naturally came out of that.”
The Golobics partner with the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation to manage their corporate philanthropy. “I served on the Community Foundation grant committee for a few years,” explains Magda, “and it opened my eyes to how the process worked, how many requests there were, and the amount of time and resources it took to review the applications. Our fund through the Community Foundation makes it much easier for us to manage.”
The GreatAmerica donor-advised fund is a competitive fund that supports a variety of organizations. Magda and Tony use this fund to support education, cultural life and social services equally: education because of its importance to growing a strong local workforce; cultural life because of its ability to make the community more attractive to new potential residents; and social services to make sure that community members live the best life possible.
GreatAmerica hopes to continue this trend well into the future. “Our goal in starting GreatAmerica wasn’t necessarily to make a lot of money,” explains Tony, “but we have been quite successful, financially and otherwise. Our goal was, and is, to build a company that would always pursue excellence. That’s what drives us. To be as good as we can possibly be and tomorrow be better than we are today.” The company has grown every year for the past 25 years, and Tony is confident that won’t change any time soon. They plan to have their philanthropy continue to grow as well. “Our goal has always been to devote a percentage of profits to charitable purposes and, as our profitability increases, our total dollars will increase as well.”
“This is a good, deserving community,” says Tony, “and I hope every business strongly considers giving back. Improving the quality of life is in everyone’s best interest.”