Distributors can benefit from an eco-conscious customer.
Until recently, businesses that took an active interest in environmental issues were few and far between. Determination to take on these concerns was often more talk and less action.
Many companies considered adopting green practices, such as offering green products, working with green suppliers, retrofitting their office/building to become more eco-friendly and offering green solutions. However, they worried about increased costs, additional risks and lost revenue from time taken away from business development to learn and implement the necessary changes. For many, the solution was simply to place a few recycling bins in the office, and that was the end of it.
What’s Green With Conveyors
Scott Lee, president of Conveyor Solutions (Schaumburg, IL), promotes energy reduction systems as a way for customers to save money by going green. “We now sell customers on the idea of turning off their equipment when they’re not using it. Most customers start up their conveyor systems when they walk in the building but don’t start using it for an hour or two. Then, the energy consumption is like a bell curve, meaning that it’s super-busy in the middle of the day and then almost empty at the end of the day. We shut off the parts not being used, which extends the life of the equipment and uses less energy. There are huge gains to be made on energy reduction in the conveyor industry.” In some cases, those savings can result in a lightning-quick payback of just one to two months, depending on the system.
Today, though, businesses in all industries realize that protecting the environment is a very real concern to businesses and the general population. Going green to protect the environment is often viewed not only as the right thing to do, but as the smart thing to do. If a business wants to attract the increasingly large environmentally conscious market and gain a competitive edge, it must become known as an eco-friendly organization that works with green suppliers and encourages its customers to go green as well. This holds true for material handling distributors and their customers. Many have a green program in place and are boldly marketing and advertising it to the marketplace.
You may not be the first distributor to demonstrate environmental responsibility, but you’d be wise to avoid being the last. This isn’t a passing fancy that will go out of style in a few years. This is a new expectation that is here to stay and a good reason to inspire your customers to go green as well.
Sustainable Awareness Is on the Rise
There are a number of facts proving that sustainability awareness is on the rise. For example, individuals, organizations and countries are becoming increasingly environmentally aware and doing their part to help preserve the earth’s resources and make a positive impact on the environment.
A global study of 11,000 consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Mexico on their attitudes toward green products showed that 80 percent of the world’s consumers said they were attentive to, or absorbed by, sustainability issues. An estimated one billion people in more than 180 countries participated in Earth Day 2010.
|Adopting green practices and green design solutions demonstrates that an organization has the good of the public at heart.|
In addition, media attention given to environmental awareness is rapidly increasing. Mainstream business publications such as Fortune, Bloomberg, BusinessWeek and Wall Street Journal have dramatically increased their coverage of the topic. There has been an abundance of high-profile stories and special features on green products and businesses.
Green television programming has exploded in popularity, spawning not just a slew of eco-friendly shows around the globe, but even programming blocks and an entire green channel in the United States, Discovery Communications’ Planet Green. Sundance Channel’s program The Green, as well as programs on green living on HGTV, BBC, Animal Planet and other stations are rapidly gaining popularity.
What’s Green With Lift Trucks
It’s no surprise, with energy and fuel prices being what they are, that the big push in lift trucks continues to be toward electric trucks. Legislation capping carbon emissions, such as that passed by the California Air Resources Board, will continue to drive a trend toward more energy-efficient trucks. At ProMat 2011, many manufacturers showcased new models of electric equipment designed to be more energy-efficient and emission-friendly than internal combustion trucks. In his industry forecast article for The MHEDA Journal in January, 2011 Industrial Truck Association President Jeff Rufener, vice president of Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America, projected electric demand to grow to 63 percent of the total market. “The trend to electrics has staying power not seen before, as the performance of electric trucks moves closer to that of IC trucks,” Rufener says.
There is an abundance of products being offered in the marketplace to environmentally-conscious businesses and consumers. Numerous equipment manufacturers are upgrading to closed-circuit-powered painting systems, non-toxic laminates, and 100 percent recycled American steel. Products are also being made without toxic dyes. These are just of few of the thousands of examples of steps companies are taking to improve the environment.
Major Advantages of Adopting Green Practices
As a distributor, taking a green approach—and encouraging your customers to do the same—has many advantages. Making a positive impact on the environment yields increased sales, profits and positive PR. A green approach incorporates and enhances all of the elements critical to building a sustainable company: a strong competitive stance, lower operating expenses, powerful marketing, solid public relations, positive brand awareness and a good reputation.
Good corporate citizenship gives a firm a strong, positive reputation. Adopting green practices and green design solutions demonstrates that an organization has the good of the public at heart. As the essence of good corporate citizenship, this promotes goodwill and helps the company develop a great reputation by demonstrating environmental consciousness. More and more people are screening companies for environmental management practices before investing. Their rationale is that this is an indicator of smart business management.
All successful companies continue to look for ways to promote the merits of working for and doing business with them. Going green provides companies a variety of ways to promote their good works. It helps generate a positive business image with environmentally conscious customers, employees and the marketplace.
What’s Green With
According to the United States Green Building Council, “LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building project meets the highest green building and performance measures. LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs and increase asset value, reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, be healthier and safer for occupants and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions.” Material handling distributors can help customers achieve this by suggesting more efficient lighting and ventilation systems and using recycled materials like used pallet rack from previous facilities.
Sustainability is now a core component of corporate brands. Offering and using green products and design solutions, if effectively marketed and advertised, can significantly promote your brand and make your business stand out in customers’ minds. If you distribute a product so it doesn’t have toxic substances, you’ll cut regulatory burdens and avoid a potential incident down the road. If you cut waste and reduce resource use, you will save money because you’ll use less energy.
Embracing environmental responsibility ensures a reduction in costs for businesses of all sizes. Recycling, using energy-efficient office equipment and implementing water-saving devices all save money by cutting costs. This holds true for small businesses as well as large ones. According to the Center for Small Business and the Environment, small businesses have reported savings of 20 percent to 30 percent by making energy-saving moves and creating sustainable buildings. Others have reported saving as much as 50 percent on utility costs.
If your commitment to the environment is creatively marketed and advertised, it will set you apart from your competition. Indeed, making a commitment to the environment can be the tiebreaker when prospective customers are comparing your company and its products or services with lesser-enlightened competitors.
|Without a doubt, going green is one of the most compelling economic, cultural and political shifts occurring today.|
The Green Bottom Line
These are challenging but extraordinary times. Without a doubt, going green is one of the most compelling economic, cultural and political shifts occurring today. It impacts businesses, governments and people, as well as the Earth and its forests, plants, soil, air, water and wildlife. Radical transformation is occurring throughout the world in public, professional and private sectors. Where we live, what we drive and how we work are all affected by environmental issues. The green wave is not about to subside.
Becoming environmentally responsible by adopting green practices, offering green products and solutions, and demonstrating a commitment toward environmental responsibility is not only a key to obtaining a competitive advantage in today’s challenging marketplace, it’s simply the right thing to do.
|Meet the Author
Christine Corelli is president of Christine Corelli & Associates, located in Morton Grove, Illinois, and on the Web at www.christinespeaks.com.