Encourage Your Customers To Go Green

Distributors can benefit from an eco-conscious customer.

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GAWDA’s Green Product Guide
Equipment and supplies for an eco-conscious customer
GAWDA's Green Product Guide

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 offices and buildings 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.

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 gases and welding distributors and their customers. Many have green programs in place and are boldly marketing and advertising them 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.

GAWDA Members Go Green

Distributors and Suppliers are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to using green products and making their operations energy efficient. For example, Prest-O-Sales & Service’s (Long Island City, NY) and Weldship’s (Bethlehem, PA) installation of solar roof panels, along with Machinery & Welder Corp.’s (West Allis, WI) retrofit of high-efficiency lighting, strip doors and a more modern HVAC are a few of many examples of GAWDA members taking the green mandate seriously. Every company using global positioning systems for its fleet is routing delivery vehicles more efficiently, thus reducing fuel consumption. Some distributors are experimenting with hybrid vehicles. AWISCO is constructing a green roof on its Maspeth, New York, building that will manage over 390,000 gallons of storm water per year, directly reducing Combined Sewer Overflows to a nearby creek.

Lincoln Electric is building one of the largest wind turbines in North America. The turbine and blades, which were made in Germany, will spin above Lincoln’s headquarters in Ohio. They will generate 2.5 million watts of electricity for the company’s energy needs, enough power to cut $500,000 off Lincoln’s annual electric bill. Lincoln will fabricate a 14-foot diameter steel tower that will hold the 200,000-pound turbine. The seven sections of tower will be welded together at Lincoln headquarters, using a robotic welding machine.

Sustainable Awareness Is on the Rise
There are a number of facts proving that sustainability awareness is on the rise. 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 2011.

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 in popularity.

There are 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.

Without a doubt, going green is one of the most compelling economic, cultural and political shifts occurring today. 

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.

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.

Adopting green practices and green design solutions demonstrates that an organization has the good of the public at heart. 

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 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.

The Green Bottom Line
These are challenging and 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.

Christine Corelli Meet the Author
Christine Corelli is president of Christine Corelli & Associates, located in Morton Grove, Illinois, and on the Web at www.christinespeaks.com.
Gases and Welding Distributors Association