In Episode 64 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on May 26, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Steve Roth, CEO of Roth Consulting, which helps companies devise and execute a “winning strategy,” whether related to capital, expansion, product development or management.

Steve Roth, CEO of Roth Consulting

Steve Roth, CEO of Roth Consulting

Roth brings his experience as a senior executive and investor in companies in a wide range of industries to green businesses and double-bottom-line companies, those companies for which a social goal — like benefiting the community or the environment — co-exist alongside profit goals.  For those companies, the biggest issue is balance, Roth explains.  Companies can’t forget that profitability is what allows a company to be generous and, therefore, profitability must remain the core operational focus.  Companies shouldn’t become so enamored with a social mission that they lose the ability to fund it.

The average double-bottom-line company devotes about 5 percent of sales to a social mission.  The more profits earned, the more impact the company can have. Ben & Jerry’s was one of the first and most successful double-bottom-line companies.  “On a public relations basis, charitable endeavors are a big part of their raison d’être.”

Companies can also donate employee time – within limits.  In the 1970’s, Xerox was one of first companies to devote its human resources to help the community, and some employees were even promoted on that basis.  But Xerox diverted too much attention from its core business and now no longer exists.  “It’s an educational tale.”

Another business challenge for these companies is making the charitable work relevant to customers.  Many businesses in the coffee industry, for example, donate money back to the cooperatives that grow their beans.  It may be more expensive to source products from those areas.  As a result, customers may need to pay higher prices or the company may have to accept lower profits.  “Corporate communication is critical to justifying the premium” customers may have to pay, especially in a competitive marketplace where consumers have many choices. The customer must be educated about the social benefit of buying that product.

Roth and Dick also discuss socially responsible investing.

What social causes would inspire you to purchase products from double-bottom-line companies, even if the prices were higher?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Steve Roth: Episode 64 of The Wendel Forum(27:45 mins; mp3)

Roth Consulting:  http://www.consultroth.com

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for (organic, fair trade, unique, delicious) ice cream!

In Episode 58 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on April 14, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo welcomes Neal Gottlieb of Three Twins Ice Cream.

Neal discusses the life path that led him from corporate finance to ice cream, with a stint in the Peace Corps along the way.  When he founded Three Twins, he was determined to build a company that honored his values, as well as offering him a reasonable living.

Neal Gottlieb of Three Twins Ice Cream visits The Wendel Forum

Neal Gottlieb of Three Twins Ice Cream visits The Wendel Forum

According to Neal, organic ice cream has been done before, but not well.  The early attempts from some of the bigger names on the ice cream scene typically made organic varieties in boring flavors (vanilla, chocolate or strawberry) and saw it as an opportunity to sell smaller containers while charging more money than for their conventional flavors.   

By contrast, the Three Twins model puts organic at the core of the product, rather than as an afterthought.  In addition to using basic organic ingredients, Three Twins concentrates on building up multiple flavor layers in its ice creams for surprising twists on classics.  An increasing number of Three Twins’ flavors are using certified Fair Trade products as well.

Bill and Neal discuss what it means for a business like Three Twins to obtain USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade certified designations. They also discuss the company’s corporate giving initiatives, which include membership in 1% for the Planet and their new giving initiative “Ice Cream for Acres.” Through the Ice Cream for Acres program, Three Twins makes a donation to Global Wildlife Conservation, an environmental nonprofit that buys large tracks of land to protect habitat for endangered species.  For each one pint purchase, Three Twins donates enough money to buy at least six square feet of land.  To date, the company has underwritten the purchase of 100 square acres and they expect they’ll be able to facilitate the purchase of thousands of acres in the next few years with their anticipated growth.

Where can you find these delicious sweet treats?  On the East Coast you can find them in Whole Foods (except in New York and New Jersey) and Fresh markets. On the West Coast, they currently have a larger footprint in Whole Foods, neighborhood corner bodegas, and some conventional grocery stores.  But perhaps the most fun you’ll have is if you’re lucky enough to encounter the “pimped out” ice cream truck (which is really a refurbished school bus) known affectionately as “Carl.”

Carl the Three Twins Ice Cream Bus

Carl the Three Twins Ice Cream Bus

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Neal Gottlieb: Episode 58 of The Wendel Forum (27:20 mins; mp3)

Three Twins Ice Cream website : www.threetwinsiceream.com

Global Wildlife Conservation website: http://globalwildlife.org/

1% for the Planet website: http://onepercentfortheplanet.org/en/

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 31 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on September 10, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio) Danny Ronen and Jean-Francois Daniel of The Fair Trade Spirits Company sit down with show host Bill Acevedo to explain how what you drink can make a difference. 

Quinoa vodka?  That’s right.  This company brings together French distillers and Bolivian farmers for an award winning product (nominated Best Tasting Vodka 2009 at the New York Spirits Awards and Gold Medal at the Chicago Beverage Testing Institute 2009).  Their other products include such Fair Trade ingrediants as goji fruit (the fruit that contains most antioxidants in the world) and coffee.
 
Photo of Products from Fair Trade Spirits Company

Fair Trade Spirits Company products sold under the FAIR label

With plants and production facilities in France, they are using their commitment to sustainability and Fair Trade to ensure a direct relationship between farmers and consumers.  They discuss the importance of creating a sustainable product without compromising taste and quality. 
 
 

Did you know that September 19 – 25 is the Fifth Annual San Francisco Cocktail Week

 

Show note:

Tune in Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 11:30 am when Bill interviews Ashok Kamal of Bennu and Dean LaTourrette of Save the Waves to discuss our environment through the lens of our world’s oceans.

 

Post links:

Listen to the interview with Fair Trade Spirits Company: Episode 31 of The Wendel Forum(27:48 mins, mp3)

Fair Trade Spirits company website:  http://www.fairtradespirits.com/

Green 960 AM radio: www.green960.com

Bill Acevedo website bio: www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Fifth Annual San FranciscoCocktail Week:  http://sfcocktailweek.com/about.html

 

You’ve got to love a sustainable business whose slogan is “Change Starts With Your Underwear.” 

PACT is a Berkeley, California-based company that makes organic underwear with a social mission.  Listen to PACT co-founder and CEO Jason Kibbey in a discussion that traces this company’s path from a business school idea to a thriving company with a national distribution on the internet and in boutique retail outlets. 

In Episode 26 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on August 6, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio), Jason shares with show host Dick Lyons  how the company’s values for sustainability and social impact affect all aspects of the supply chain, including sourcing the organic cotton, product manufacturing, distribution and packaging. 

The company initially launched as an e-commerce product and is now found in about 50 stores, including boutiques and Nordstrom’s.  Not only do they make a sustainable product (even the shipping bags are 100% compostable), in addition their social impact mission includes incorporating business solutions such as working with a third-party logistics service that offers employment training and paid work opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities. 

Other discussion topics include the PACT model for impact giving, what the company did as a start up to tap into early funding sources, and the desire to add fun to environmental activism.

Want to know what the name PACT represents?  You’ll have to listen to the show to find out.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Jason Kibbey:  Episode 26 of The Wendel Forum  (27 min 36 sec)

PACT company website: http://www.wearpact.com/

About show host Dick Lyons: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

Scott Leonard, CEO and co-founder of Indigenous Designs, a fair trade organic fashion clothing company, talks about starting up his business15 years ago with show host Dick Lyons in Episode 12 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on April 23, 2011). 

According to Scott, “We thought we could create a product that brought two different hemispheres into the actual garment.  One hemisphere was that it would be environmental product that respected the earth and the other hemisphere was that it was respecting people.”  He continues, “What we say is that we honor both people and planet in the product.”   He discusses how organic textile certification in the EC provided the foundation for certification in the U.S.  This raises the question of what other laws and regulatory structures could we import from the EC and localize for U.S. markets to promote green business here.

Post Links:

Indigenous Designs website: http://www.indigenousdesigns.com/

Indigenous Designs blog: http://www.indigenousdesigns.blogspot.com/

Discussion with Scott Leonard of Indigenous Designs: Episode 12 of The Wendel Forum (27 minutes)

“There are fantastic stories behind every fair trade cooperative.” That’s one of the messages of Alter Eco co-founder and CEO Mathieu Senard in the latest episode of The Wendel Forum.  In Episode 11 of The Wendel Forum (first aired on April 16, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio), our host Dick Lyons talks with Mathieu about how Alter Eco brings products from third world farmers to North American consumers in a way that earns investors a return on their money, as well as a return on their values.

The company started in 1999 with a small store in France. By 2005 it decided to launch operations in North America and currently imports items including coffee, quinoa, sugar, rice and chocolate.  Placed in independent grocery chains throughout the U.S., including Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, Alter Eco products allow previously marginalized small scale farmers in third world countries an opportunity to bring their products to larger markets and earn a fair wage in the process.

Mathieu shares the story behind Alter Eco and gives us a glimpse into a business model that prioritizes gradually closing the gap between rich and poor – so-called developing countries and industrialized countries.
 

Post Links:

Interview with Mathieu Senard: Episode 11 of The Wendel Forum

Alter Eco website: www.altereco-usa.com

Rainbow Grocery website: www.rainbow.coop

About the host: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio: www.green960.com