The Summit of Sustainability Awards
Winner Mid-Size Business Category
Kent Elastomer Products Inc.
In its 53-year history, Kent Elastomer Products Inc. has evolved from a latex tubing manufacturer into a diversified supplier of products ranging from thermoplastic elastomers to non-latex Free-Band Tourniquets.
The company started lean manufacturing in 2006 with an emphasis on continuous improvement. Kaizen practices were the main vehicle, and employees were the drivers for implementing and sustaining these and other improvements.
Since 2008, its Mogadore facility has realized an 84 percent decrease in water usage, a 13 percent decrease in electric usage and it sends 80 percent fewer dumpsters (from five per week to one per week) to the landfill. Total annual savings from these three improvements alone is approximately $26,000.
A wholly owned subsidiary of Meridian Industries Inc., Kent Elastomer builds its business on people — its employees, its customers and the patients who rely on quality products. Kent Elastomer serves a variety of markets including medical, dental, food/beverage, sports/recreation, laboratory and industrial.
The integrity of its people is reflected in its products, which are known for durability and strength. The company is nimble — able to create customized products quickly and to unique specifications.
An innovative approach at Kent Elastomer is employee ownership. The culture change that happened as a result of lean manufacturing is evident by the involvement of employees, their commitment to their jobs and the low turnover rates.
“We take pride in being a world class producer of quality products with employees striving for continuous improvement and reducing waste,” says Bob Oborn, president. “We take our stewardship of the environment seriously, and it shows.”
The Summit of Sustainability Awards
Winner Large Business Category
GOJO Industries Inc.
GOJO Industries Inc. was built upon a legacy of sustainability — there had to be a better, safer and gentler way for Akron’s rubber workers during World War II to clean their hands. The harsh benzene chemical used at the time was unhealthy. The result was the launch of GOJO, a cleaner which cut through tough soils but washed off in water.
Ever since then, the company has focused on innovative and sustainable products such as Purell hand sanitizer.
“The progress in our social, environmental and economic sustainability measurements is a direct result of the authentic commitment of GOJO employees to our Sustainable Ways of Working culture,” said GOJO Vice Chair Marcella Kanfer Rolnick.
In 2012, the company’s success in reducing environmental impacts earned GOJO the prestigious Environmental Excellence Award from the Ohio EPA.
The company set a goal in 2010 to reduce water use by 30 percent — and by the end of 2012 had already reduced consumption by 29 percent. The company found ways through equipment upgrades and new technologies, processes and procedures, to cut more than 1.5 million gallons annually.
Likewise, the company set a goal to reduce solid waste. A total of 84 percent of the waste generated in 2012 was diverted from landfills. Instead, it was recycled or repurposed through several programs with third parties such as in association with Matthew 25: Ministries, a collaboration which not only helps reduce the waste stream but helps bring well-being to people in need.
Greenhouse gas reduction as well has exceeded expectations. There has been a 40 percent reduction in the past three years, while 5 percent had been the goal.
The Summit of Sustainability Awards
Many organizations are realizing that in order compete, they must follow the triple-bottom line model: people, planet and prosperity. Under this ideology, these leaders contribute to their communities by creating a sustainable business plan that helps to redevelop their cities as well as strengthen economic value in the area and increase the health and wealth of its people.
Even before this particular business ideology became known, Mayor Don Plusquellic of Akron introduced a sustainability plan on Earth Day 2009 called Greenprint for Akron. The purpose was to create an environmental partnership to foster a sustainable, eco-friendly community through education and leadership. Since that time, the city has been not only been setting and achieving its own sustainable goals but also encouraging local businesses and nonprofits to do the same.
In order to broaden the spectrum of organizational involvement, Paula Davis and Paul Feezel, members of the Greenprint for Akron Green Ribbon Panel, developed the idea for the Summit of Sustainability Awards program to not only recognize those Summit County organizations that have taken up the sustainability challenge but also to share these best sustainable business practices with all businesses in Summit County and beyond.
These practices can then be emulated by organizations that may not know where to begin on a sustainability plan. Each year the winning applications with coordinating professional videos will be displayed on the program website at www.SummitOfSustainability.org.
The City of Akron, Summit County, Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce and ReWorks were eager to join in on this program and, along with Keep Akron Beautiful, are the founding partners of The Summit of Sustainability Awards.
Now in its second year, The Summit of Sustainability Awards added two Sustainability Symposiums to provide attendees with sustainability mentoring from SOSA 2012 winners and sponsors, energy savings contacts from FirstEnergy and COSE/Dominion, and SOSA 2013 application clarification from SOSA committee members.
SOSA 2013 program applicants were judged on their implementation of business sustainability plans and the significance of their results and metrics when evaluated against the organization’s size and available resources.
Esteemed judges reviewed each applicant’s energy, building, waste and water management, chemical management, purchasing program, environmental awareness and green innovation. Over the following pages, we are proud to recognize the five Summit County 2013 winners whose efforts embody people, planet and prosperity.
1. Winner, Large Business Category -- GOJO Industries Inc.
2. Winner, Mid-Size Business Category -- Kent Elastomer Products Inc.
3. Winner, NonProfit Category -- The Akron Marathon
4. Winner, Public Sector Category -- City of Twinsburg
5. Winner, Small Business Category -- Ms. Julie’s Kitchen
Imagine a potential customer walking into a retailer such as an automotive parts store, home improvement center, etc. Now, the customer walks in the door feeling excited, anxious and a bit overwhelmed by the bombardment of information. He or she may need guidance from an associate to help make sense of it all in order to make the best decision possible. Will your start-to-finish shopper marketing seal the deal? Will you gain one more loyal customer for your brand?
Today, customers are dictating when, where and how they buy. The traditional sales process has become complex, with shoppers bouncing back and forth between the Internet, stores, family, friends and customer reviews. Brands need to engage and listen to their customers. Think about the shopper’s needs first and then see where the brand can be inserted along the path to purchase.
Doing so will help improve conversion rates, accelerate the buying process and reduce customer service requests. Ultimately, these benefits will lead to what we’re all after — customer loyalty, positive brand image and advocacy.
Gain an understanding
Understanding shopper wants, needs and motivations is critical to shopper marketing success. In order to put the shopper first, the brand must first understand that there isn’t just one path to purchase.
Shoppers will research, plan and shop all before they set foot in the store. Making the brand not only accessible via every medium, but consistent across all channels will help the brand fare well in the eyes of the shopper.
Work hard to collaborate with the retailer for maximum impact on shopper experience. Create packaging and point of sale that is easier to understand, not only for the shopper but for the retailer and sales associates. Use QR codes, concise information and helpful resources for easily accessible information. The point of sale system should be easy for both the shopper and sales associate.
Envision a scenario
Again, imagine customers walking into that store. This time, you have thought about their needs first, you know their motivations and have been available to them on all channels of media.
You have taken into account the whole shopping experience and have made it easy for them to make a decision by providing comprehensive, accurate and consistent information. The necessary collaboration between manufacturer and retailer has been made and you have tested, measured and optimized your resources for the best shopper experience possible.
One of Hitchcock, Fleming & Associates’ automotive clients, for example, was seeking guidance on how to improve shopper marketing ROI and better educate sales associates. We implemented a plan for sales associates to carry tablets to enhance the in-store buying experience. The tablet was a simple way for both the associate and shopper to answer a series of qualifying questions and pick the best product.
As a result, more associates began requesting tablets, content offering increased by 70 percent and nearly 80 percent of tablets distributed are actively used each month. We made the decision process easier by understanding the shopper’s perspective.
Inserting your brand into the shopping path will help keep the brand in the shopper’s mind, ultimately creating the sought-after effect — customer loyalty, positive brand image and advocacy. This process can be challenging but done properly can be beneficial to the sustainability of an entire brand. ●
Dale Elwell is vice president, account service, at Hitchcock, Fleming & Associates. From product launches to brand positioning, he has a broad experience base that allows him to be versatile and adaptable in helping clients reach their marketing and communications goals. For more information, visit www.teamhfa.com.
What started as a chat between Bob Shearer and a caterer led to a match made in snack food heaven.
When Shearer, co-founder of Shearer’s Foods Inc. and founder and CEO of Shearer Solutions, heard that Keith Kropp, owner and president of Or Derv Foods, was setting new standards with innovative appetizers, he wanted to meet him.
“He was not looking for a partner, but we hit it off,” Shearer says. “And he said, ‘With your experience and what you have done at Shearer’s, I think we could really do a lot with the company.’
“I agreed and so one thing led to another, and then basically with my investment group we bought 40 percent of the company. We’re looking to expand and grow the company and are planning a new manufacturing facility.”
Shearer discussed his first investment with Smart Business after selling Shearer’s Foods last year.
Q. Besides its signature sauerkraut balls, Or Derv Foods produces a range of deep fried products such as calamari, banana pepper rings and even Oreos. With your 40 years in potato chips and other snack foods, how did this opportunity pique your interest?
A. I look for something that has a special niche, something in which we could be different, where we could diversify ourselves and be unique. With the group of talent that we have at the company, I feel good about the innovation that we can bring to the company.
Q. Who is in your investment group?
A. Bob Hanline, founder and CEO of The RS Hanline Co.; Al Melchiorre, CEO and president of Melcap Partners LLC; Steve Surmay, vice president at Shearer’s Foods Inc.; Joe Rogers, COO of Shearer Solutions; and John Bahas II, owner of Akron’s Waterloo Restaurant and Catering and Prime 93 Restaurant and Event Center — he tipped me off about Or Derv Foods, he’s also product development director at Or Derv Foods.
Q. You grew Shearer’s Foods from scratch in 1972 to more than $500 million of annual billings in 2012. You recently won the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Northeast Ohio Award. What’s the key to this type of success?
A. My philosophy has always been to try to work with good people. And I really like Kropp. Then I think you always have to have a unique product in the category and be innovative. Those are the things that help successfully move a company forward.
Q. Can you describe the plant expansion that’s slated for 2014?
A. The new plant will be a sustainable plant. We will be doing LEED certification. Obviously we have a great interest in conserving our natural resources and working to make our foods very sustainable in their nature and manufacturing processes.
Q. What is it about the uniqueness, for example, of the products that enticed you?
A. We make wonderful falafels. Now I am really hooked on them. We are trying to do some products that cater to the vegan world and are organic and all-natural. We do an all-natural meatball that is just a great product. We do a meatless meatball for vegans that is just to die for. It’s great. We’re trying to develop a lot of unique products that set us apart from our competition. Outside of Shearer’s, this is my first adventure in food. I’ve done some minor things outside of the food industry, but this is where my real love is. I like the opportunity to be able to do that. ●
How to reach: Or Derv Foods, (330) 376-9411 or www.ordervfoods.com
Twelve years ago, EY decided to go global with its Entrepreneur Of The Year awards and establish the World Entrepreneur Of The Year program — and the results have been, shall we say, an international success. The conference, held annually in Monaco, features Entrepreneur Of The Year country winners competing for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year title.
Assembling business leaders from around the world in one place to be honored is a huge accomplishment — the wealth of experience, as well as the variety of successful leadership styles, is outstanding.
Here are some thoughts from the collection of the world’s most accomplished entrepreneurs — innovators, futurists, turnaround specialists and problem-solvers — about leadership styles. ●
“I built the company based on people, not on experience from before. They were willing to learn and try anything. We had a bunch of people who had never done this before. None of us had run companies. None of us had worked in high levels of companies. None of us were from Fortune 500s. Chobani not only became a business that grew, but Chobani was like a school to us, including myself.”
founder, president and CEO
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 United States
2013 Entrepreneur Of The World
“Early on, the business was centered on me, and I had to make all the decisions alone. Now I share those decisions with my 10 main directors. If there are differences in opinion, I make the last decision.
The other thing is that I have had to ensure that the people who are invited to work here are people with principles, values, integrity, responsibility and passion. If I don’t see a person with passion, they don’t hang around the company very long.”
Lorenzo Barrera Segovia
founder and CEO
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Mexico
“I’m a very passionate person, which will never change. When you grow, you gain more experience and the kind of problems you face change. As you grow, you need to grow with your organization.”
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Argentina
“In the startup days, you have to be very innovative, hire and retain talent, refine your business as you deploy in the marketplace, and you learn things from it. Today, with a solid track record of business success, I can focus on what’s next and think more strategic and long-term than you’re allowed to in the early days. My style has evolved as the business has matured.”
Chevron Energy Solutions
“Entrepreneurship and leadership is about always having ideas, knowing that it is possible even though everyone says it is too difficult. Maintain the positive and always have new ideas.”
Mario Hernandez, founder and president, Marroquinera
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Colombia
“To keep the entrepreneurial spirit and entrepreneurship alive once you've got past the startup base, I think it is making sure people understand why they are there. There are always things you can do to improve your business. You should be rethinking and retooling it every chance you get. The key thing is to make sure everybody in the organization understands the story, where are you going — how are you going to get there? And the belief that you are doing the right thing —people want to know their purpose. Keep the energy going, keep a strong sense of purpose.”
Dr. Alan Ulsifer
CEO, president and chair
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 Canada
“The skill sets of an entrepreneur involve understanding how to create business. Why not work with kids who need it the most and actually teach them and help them to be entrepreneurs? That’s what is going to grow our economy and create stability where otherwise we’re going to have a lot of social unrest.”
President and CEO
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship
“I like to be involved. I want to know everything that is going on. But I have to delegate to my team. That was the biggest adjustment for me, and it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s that delegating to others, trusting them and reinventing yourself. Now that we’ve grown, I put more responsibility on my team and rely on my team more than I once did.”
President and founder
SME Entertainment Group
“If someone makes a mistake, what do you do? You laugh with them. You don’t yell at them. You laugh. It just keeps things light and lively and people want to do their very best. You let them know they screwed up, but you also let them know it’s OK.”
National Heritage Academies
Leaders often talk about how the traits of accountability and transparency helped make them who they are, but to retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for four years under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, leadership is quite simply how you listen, learn and lead.
It’s not just a coincidence that communication is as important in the war zone as it is in an organization — and that’s where Mullen emphasizes listening to what his team members have on their minds.
Smart Business talked with Mullen about the challenges of being in command:
Q. What do you see as the most important trait that any leader must possess?
A. Integrity. Be true to yourself, and obviously true to your values. The value of integrity intrinsically has been a driver for me since I was a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. It has served me exceptionally well.
Integrity encompasses being honest, truthful and consistent — both publicly and privately in leadership positions — and representing that in every situation. It is most evident in the toughest decisions you have to make.
Q. And how can you ensure integrity is present in leadership?
A. What I loved about command was the responsibility and authority that came with it. But more than anything else, the other piece was accountability — accountable leadership. That is not just having someone hold you accountable, but having enough strength yourself as a leader to hold yourself accountable.
I just found that even with those decisions that can be very unpopular, if you are true to that value of integrity, even if it may not seem to some to be the best decision, it [integrity] holds you in the best stead as a leader over the long term. And because of that, it becomes incredibly supportive of those very, very tough decisions.
Q. So what can help a leader make those tough decisions more effectively?
A. As a more senior leader, I learned to keep a diversity of views around me. The more senior I got, the more diverse the people, the recommendations and the discussions had to be in order for me to make the right decision.
I had people around me who were willing to say, ‘Hey, this is when you got it wrong,’ as opposed to the opposite, which is isolation, where nobody will tell the emperor [he] doesn’t have any clothes on.
Q. You’ve mentioned the importance of listening to others in order to help you become a better leader. How did you do that?
A. Everywhere I went, whether we had a town hall meeting or we could call an all-hands meeting, I would take questions from the audience. So, for example, when a young enlisted man would give me a question of which I didn’t know the answer, I said, “I don’t know the answer, but give me your email address. I will go research it and get back to you.”
I did that. I went back and looked at whatever their concern was. And some of those concerns generated significant changes in the military, or in the particular service they were in. For me, as chairman, that was a vital part of trying to understand what I was asking them to do, and then taking that feedback and trying to fix the problem that they raised — if it made sense to do it.
A good leader can make such a difference, and create something out of nothing, whereas a bad leader is unable to do that. The ingredient that makes a difference is leadership. ●
Retired Navy Adm. Mike Mullen served more than 43 years in the Navy, having served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011, and as chief of naval operations from 2005 to 2007. He will be the keynote speaker at the Dec. 5 American Red Cross Hero Awards. Learn more about the Hero Awards at www.clevelandheroes.com.
Consider this business scenario: You’ve landed a big account for your company by converting a highly prized prospect into a valuable client. The new client has hired you to handle a specific scope of work and is counting on your team’s ability to deliver work that goes above and beyond.
While nothing is more important than delivering great customer service to satisfy the client, you may not realize that you’re probably overlooking unrealized opportunities to forge a stronger relationship with your customer.
In today’s business landscape, most large companies offer an array of products and services. More often than not, however, your clients use you for a specific service or skill set. And unfortunately, in this scenario, most companies focus solely on the task at hand — delivering what they’ve been contracted to deliver — failing to take ample time to think about the bond they’re creating with the client and what could be next.
In more simple terms, it is one thing to provide service that keeps a customer; it is another to keep that customer and expand the relationship to become a trusted partner.
Provide value in a deliberate way
The good news is that this is an easy fix. Establish a content marketing program that allows you to distribute thought leadership to your clients.
A content marketing program will help you provide value that other service providers may not, and when clients see you as an informational resource and partner, it will be easier to expand the relationship.
Take this example into consideration: You are an insurance provider and your main product is life insurance, therefore most of the communication you have with your clients surrounds that topic.
With a comprehensive content marketing program in place, however, you can educate your clients on the recent trends in the insurance industry and how that affects the individual. At the same time, you can give them an overview of your company’s wellness program and let them know that if they joined, they could reduce their monthly premiums.
As you can see, you’re not just providing your client with the original service, you’re also providing them with both your thought leadership — aka value — and additional offerings.
Personal connections payoff
Aside from providing value to the client with the content you distribute, a strong content marketing program allows you to showcase your brand’s personality. Clients will be able to connect with your brand on a more personal level.
Providing continually updated content through the right channels to the right clients enhances your day-to-day communications. Clients start seeing you as thought leaders and partners instead of just service providers.
It will help you expand relationships and, as a result, generate new business through more products and services.
Show them more than just what they see on the surface — show them how active you are in the community, or how much fun you had during a recent company outing. If may sound trivial, but your clients do similar things, and seeing you connect with the community and/or employees will help forge a more personal connection. You never know; you and your client may support the same charity, organization or team.
Open communication also will help strengthen relationships to the point where you can capture a premium price and eliminate price-jumping clients. Clients will pay more for a valuable relationship than simply look to get the lowest price elsewhere. ●
David Fazekas is vice president of marketing services for SBN Interactive. Reach him at email@example.com or (440) 250-7056.
You would think someone like Douglas Merrill would be a heavy multitasker, with multiple devices in hand, fielding several conversations — both real and virtual — simultaneously.
But you would be wrong.
Merrill, who was the CIO at Google until 2008, doesn’t like to multitask. He says that when you do it, you aren’t using your brain’s full capacity and aren’t as effective. He recommends focusing on one thing at a time.
Billionaire Mark Cuban has his own time management strategy. Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, says you should completely avoid meetings unless you are closing a deal. Otherwise, he says, they are a waste of time.
Both of these proven leaders have learned that how you manage your time is paramount to your effectiveness.
As a CEO, you are swamped every day with calls and emails from people wanting a piece of your time. Some are internal, some are charity requests, some are from friends or family members and others are from service providers.
To help wade through this sea of information, it’s important to have a system in place to help you free up time to think about your business and the things that matter most in life. These open times are what author Richard Swenson refers to as “margin.” They are the spaces between ourselves and our limits that are reserved for emergencies.
But for many business leaders, there are no spaces left.
The way out of this trap is to set clear goals and values for yourself and your organization. Once you do that, you will have a filter through which to evaluate everything. Everything will have an immediate yes or no answer, eliminating the “let me think about it” category completely.
The key is to establish what your goals are first and then prioritize what is important. With your priorities straight, you will find more time to put toward important things on your goals list, but don’t forget to leave time on your daily schedule. There is no way to foresee all emergencies, so by leaving yourself some margin, when something unexpected happens, you already have time built in to deal with it.
Once you have margin built into your life, you have to have the discipline to stick to it. There will always be the temptation to take every meeting or answer every email. But if you use your goals and priorities as a filter, those requests are easily either accepted or declined based on where they fall on your priority list.
If you want a life where you can experience more peace and joy and less anxiety, start looking at your priorities and establish some margin in your daily schedule. ●