February 12, 2008

Moving Along

Today I spoke at a conference of small-medium sized moving companies all under the North American Van Lines (NAVL) brand. To put the industry in green context: 20% of U.S. energy goes to moving goods/logistics. And 20% of that — or 4% of all energy — is spent on idling trains and trucks.

NAVL is an old-style business, 75 years old this year. But I heard some new talk from one member who's been sprinting down the Green to Gold path. John Prager runs Prager Moving in Naperville, IL — 35 employees, one big warehouse, and 10 trucks or so. John has attacked all aspects of his business and used the green lens to create value. Generators keep the trucks warm so movers don't idle the engines — which they may do for 8 hours in front of your house to make sure the truck starts again. The warehouse has new, lower-energy lighting. Prager offsets 25% of its energy with wind power from Community Energy, making it one of the largest privately-owned renewable energy buyers in Illinois — all at a cost of $250 per month.

John knows these actions are the right things to do and they have reduced the company's footprint. But John talks passionately about the many other benefits: reduced costs, happier employees, and higher revenues and brand value — Prager has something to market and differentiate itself on in a commodity world (price and quality in moving are hard to compete on).

But here's the interesting part: John named his program "Moving 2 Green" so he had a marketing hook. Then some colleagues in his NAVL affiliation asked to "join" the program. He didn't realize he had a program to join. So John said, Sure, but you have to meet a set of criteria. He put together a short list of actions they had to agree to and he'd give them the "official" seal of approval. Cost to colleagues: nothing. But each company needs to agree to steer business to other "Moving 2 Green" movers — it's a positive network effect.

I love this kind of story. No matter the size, companies discover that green is just better business. John's colleagues will want to follow, will want help doing it, and then will want credit for it in the marketplace. They'll want a legitimate "label" on their green actions (by the way, check out www.ecolabelling.org, co-founded by a friend of mine, Anastasia O'Rouke, for an unbelievable list of all the labels out there).

I warned John that soon he may not be moving people — he'll be spending his life putting his green seal on his colleagues' operations.


On July 28, 2008 7:00 PM, Charlotte Barksdale said:

I am a fan of yours.
My question is, what is the most effective way for a small business to
gain exposure on a US made universally known product that has finally gone "green"? (new reuse materials, major environmental packaging improvements, recycling programs,actual end of life cycle management plan, new business models that are environmentally focused and reporting information that validate the exact amount of electronic waste recycled and kept from the landfill.) We are the first US distributor. Go to www.grenk.us.com for more information.

I appreciate your thoughts.
Charlotte Barksdale
Business Manager
LaserCycle, Inc.

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