Annville IT firm gives back worldwide
It's a twist on the old “Spider-Man” lesson of great power and great responsibility at Candoris Technologies in Annville.
"To whom much is given, much is expected," said Stephan Van Der Ploog, founder and chief accountability officer at Candoris. "And we've been given a lot in America."
At Candoris, a growing, faith-based information technology systems integration firm in Annville Township, Van Der Ploog knows how lucky he is personally and professionally. Now he's trying to live his life and run his company by giving back, as the three-year-old company with its 20 employees donates between 10 and 20 percent of its profits each year to charitable causes both locally and around the world.
"And it's going to get bigger as the company grows," Van Der Ploog said about the charity fund.
It's not just a one-time thing. Candoris includes that dedication to service in its mission statement and hires only people who are willing to live and work in that philosophy.
"It started out in my head as an idea, this idea, that you like to deal with people that care about you," he said. "People gravitate toward that. The idea is that people in the business world would gravitate to that as well. And they have."
Professionally, the company has four divisions: data center infrastructure support, custom software development, staff augmentation and a consulting practice. It has half of its team in Annville and the other half at virtual locations throughout the East Coast. It has about 280 clients in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and eastern Ohio.
Van Der Ploog, 40, said Candoris has grown about 100 percent in revenue and employees each year since it opened in 2010, but what he's more concerned about is how the company and its employees give back outside the office.
From the company's pool of charitable donations, it sponsors an orphanage in Haiti that houses 18 boys between ages 3 and 18. It also donates to City of Refuge, a Christian-based charity in Harrisburg serving families in need, according to its website, and gives to other charities that support child health causes.
Van Der Ploog also allows its employees to leave work for service both in the local community and around the world.
"I tell everyone, that's what a legacy is," he said. "Our service and our leadership is our legacy. Not our profits."
Sam Shrefler, director of applications development at Candoris, is also the chairman of the board of Love and Grace Ministries, a South Carolina-based charity that started specifically to build the orphanage that Candoris sponsors in Haiti. About 75 percent of the charity's gifts come from Lebanon County, he said.
Shrefler travels to the impoverished country once or twice a year on average, he said, to check on the orphanage that has 11 staff members and to volunteer his time. Before Love and Grace Ministries built the orphanage, he and his wife traveled to the country with another charity for volunteer work.
"Just being able to get these kids into a home is something, because they had nowhere to go," he said. "I don't know anyone that's gone down there and hasn't wanted to help somehow. It changes everybody that goes."
Shrefler and Van Der Ploog were friends before they worked together, which is common at the company. Of the 20 people working there, 19 were recommendations from people already at the company, Van Der Ploog said, a testament to him that his employees believe in the company's mission and are on the lookout for talent that would fit.
"My personal belief, and I've been able to bring this to the company, is that the gifts I have are not to make me rich," he said. "But we're always asking, 'How can I help others?'"