Distributors implement programs that position them as environmentally conscious

By Bridget McCrea

Jim Pender Jr., is pretty proud of his distributorship’s commitment to operating in the most “green” manner possible. As president and COO of Rockingham Electric in Newington, N.H., Pender says the company’s green commitment ranges from offering free lighting audits to commercial clients and recycling light bulbs and thermostats, to educating both customers and suppliers on environmentally friendly habits and offering a wide selection of energy-efficient lighting products.

Rockingham Electric is also a member of the Green Alliance of New Hampshire, a group that’s on a mission to increase the profits of businesses that are having the least impact on the environment and to encourage more sustainable business practices through business-to-business mentoring and partnering. The group also educates and influences the public to consider the goods and services they use in their own communities and to encourage more sustainable choices.

“We work with the Green Alliance to help educate the public in the press, via articles, and by introducing them to new, environmentally-friendly lighting options,” say Pender. For example, Rockingham Electric will hold joint seminars with the Green Alliance in 2013 to “educate end users and businesses of all sizes about the various programs that are available to them,” says Pender.

The distributorship also takes it own advice to heart when implementing new systems and practices in the greenest manner possible. According to Pender, the company is actively exploring products using energy-efficient direct current motors; has made substantial equipment changes to minimize energy use in its own facilities; and recently completed internal structural changes in order to minimize heat loss in the winter. Most recently, the company installed motion and sensing controls throughout its facilities in order to minimize power consumption and waste.

Rockingham Electric employees are encouraged to carpool and are given steep discounts on CFLs, says Pender, who adds that the company has reduced its paper waste through recycling and by turning to technology that helps advance its mission to go “paperless.”

According to Pender, some of the distributorship’s environmentally friendly initiatives have allowed it to save money. Through an in-house plan to recycle all cardboard, paper, and other materials, for example, Rockingham Electric can “turn trash into cash,” and not only generate funds, but also cut down on its monthly waste management fees. “We’ve got a company that comes to our headquarters and picks up our recycling [which is collected company-wide] and pays us for it,” Pender explains. “That’s helped us reduce our waste management – or basically, the emptying of dumpsters – by 75%.”

Thinking Green

Pender says he and his team haven’t run into any major challenges in their quest to become a more environmentally friendly distributorship. To other firms looking to take a similar path, Pender says the best approach is to find a few applicable areas (consumer education, internal recycling programs, pairing up with local environmental groups, etc.) and leverage them in a way that positions the company as a green entity.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there right now and not all of them are going to be good fits for all distributors,” says Pender. “Pick and choose the ones where you can really shine.”

Graybar is another distributor making strides in the green arena. Based in St. Louis, the company recently introduced a comprehensive set of energy-saving solutions that can help facility owners reduce costs and meet environmental goals. Known as Graybar PowerSmart, the solutions comprise five components: building automation and controls, power management and critical power, lighting and lighting controls, renewable, and Graybar services.

Across these five categories, Graybar has strategic relationships with leading manufacturers to provide high-quality products and solutions to meet customers’ needs. “In addition to being good stewards of our company resources, another component to Graybar’s larger sustainability plan is to provide energy solutions to our clientele across all the markets we serve,” said Bill Mansfield, vice president of marketing, in a press release. “Graybar PowerSmart does just that.”

Harvesting Daylight, Saving Paper

Kennie Marie Blanck, marketing director at Warshauer Electric Supply in Tinton Falls, N.J., says the company and its staff are placing more importance on going green and on making that commitment part of the distributor’s everyday operations. To encourage employees to recycle, for example, the company set up three clearly marked bins (paper, plastic, and aluminum) at all five of its locations. Workers were given “paper boxes” to put at their desks for the disposal of paper, which is recycled weekly.

Warshauer has also started the process of completely going paperless. “Our accounting office is now in the beginning stages of paperless billing,” says Blanck. “The salesmen are providing quotes to their customers through e-mail and our marketing department has been using TVs at our counters to display upcoming marketing events, thus eliminating the printing of flyers.”

Warshauer Electric has also upgraded its buildings in the name of energy efficiency. Warehouse lighting was updated from High Bays to t5s with electronic ballasts, says Blanck, while office lighting was changed from t12 lay-ins to LED lay-ins and solar panels were installed on the roof of the company’s headquarters. The latter created a 20% reduction in energy usage in the firm’s office within a few months of installation. The distributor also put in automatic shades in its offices in order to take advantage of daylight harvesting. “In the summer,” says Blanck, “we can go all day without ever turning a light on.”

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

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