Episode 100 – Dick Lyons Discusses His Work with Sustainable Businesses
July 3, 2013
In Episode 100 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on June 22, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Dick Lyons, co-host of the Wendel Forum and co-founder of Wendel’s sustainable business practice group.
In the early 1980’s, Lyons was practicing business law when he worked on one of the early wind power projects in the Altamont Pass. Since that time, he has continued to work on wind power projects and has worked with solar power companies too. Before long, he began to hear about the business activity related to natural and organic products. He attended his first Expo West – the trade show devoted to natural and organic products – in the 1990’s.
“I was amazed by the number of companies, the different types of foods and the overall energy of the people,” he recalls. The natural products industry expanded even more with the creation of Whole Foods, which retailed natural products across the nation. Since then, he’s represented many natural foods companies, including United Natural Foods Inc., which is now a $5 billion company thanks in part to mergers and acquisitions that Lyons worked on.
Around the same time, Lyons wanted to create a cohesive law firm practice group that would focus on representing companies that benefited the environment. As co-founder of Wendel’s sustainable business practice group, he also wanted to incorporate sustainable practices into the law firm itself. Together with his co-founders, he was able to convince his partners that recycling and energy saving measures were also good business.
Sustainable business start-ups face many of the same issues as new companies in other industries, but they often have specialized concerns, according to Lyons. For example, if the product is certified organic, there may be supply chain issues. In addition, these companies are often formed not just to make a profit but also to achieve larger social goals such as having positive effect on the environment and their community. They also need capital from investors that have the same social values and expectations about the return on investment.
From co-hosting The Wendel Forum radio show, Lyons (who, incidentally, played and recorded the Forum’s intro and outro music) learned that people start sustainable companies for one or more of the following reasons: they had an epiphany related to sustainability, they wanted healthy products for themselves that they couldn’t find, or they wanted to benefit the environment and the community.
We’d love it if you would share your favorite Wendel Forum moment with us. What was your favorite interview with Dick as host?
Listen to the interview with Lyons: Episode 100 of The Wendel Forum (27:52 mins; mp3)
960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com
Wendel Rosen’s Sustainable/Green Business Practice Group: http://www.wendel.com/greenbusiness
Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo
Dick Lyons’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons