As the geographic reach of the business grew, Ongweoweh moved from manufacturing to sourcing and brokering. The company now sources, recycles, and manages the supply chain of pallets for Fortune 500 companies such as Coke and WalMart from their Ithaca headquarters on Warren Road.
Bonamie, an enrolled member and former Chief of the Cayuga Indian Nation of New York State, carried many core principles and values from his Native American heritage into the company’s business practices.
“The Haudenosaunee make decisions looking forward to the seventh generation,” explains Ongweoweh President Justin Bennett. “So the decisions that are made today are made with consideration to their long-term effects.” This principle is visible throughout Ongweoweh’s services– for example, in addition to sourcing and designing pallet products, the company offers recycling services and asset recovery to create a more sustainable industry, and software like NativeTrax, which uses real-time tracking to eliminate waste and encourage reuse and recycling initiatives. The company’s services are all designed with consideration for the collective future of not only the company, its customers, and its manufacturers, but for all of Creation.
“Ongweoweh is a Haudenosaunee word meaning ‘original people’ or ‘real people’,” explains Bennett. “We’re trying to have people do business with real people. We hold ourselves to a high standard and strive for transparency.” Not only is this guiding principle a part of the company’s history, but it guides its future and supports Ongweoweh’s core values of integrity, respect, accountability, and stewardship.
Since its inception, the company has been involved in regional efforts to improve the lives of the Native American people, supporting the creation of the American Indian Program at Cornell in 1983 and Akwe:kon, the first university residence hall in the nation established the celebrate American Indian culture and heritage. The company continues to grow its community engagement and philanthropic efforts, and has recently worked with organizations like the Tompkins County SPCA and the Red Cross.
“Business should do more than take care of itself and its people– it should have a positive impact on the community around it. We’re in the process of discovering our role in the local community and the Chamber of Commerce is helping us in that process. We’re finding where we fit in and where we can do a good job.”
Learn more about Ongweoweh Corp’s services, outreach initiatives, company history, and job openings at http://www.ongweoweh.com/.
Article and Photo credit Allison Usavage