In Episode 53 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 10, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Dick Lyons visits Natural Products Expo West 2012 in Anaheim.  The show sees 60,000 attendees and more than 2,000 exhibitors showcasing their products including a wide range of natural living products, specialty foods, natural ingredients, supplements, and health and beauty aids.  In addition there are numerous seminars and presentation, as well as informal discussions on topics from fair trade and supply chain issues to organic labeling and greenwashing. 

While attending the Expo, Dick had the opportunity to speak with Sarah Roquemore, Outreach Coordinator with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), on the topic of palm oil, a product that appears in nearly 50% of the food on your grocer’s shelves and in products as diverse as toothpaste and laundry detergent.

Although palm oil is a widely-used product, most people have no idea how prevalent it is in our food stream. Nor do they realize the environmental impact its cultivation has on our planet.  In recent years, the high demand for palm oil has contributed to the deforestation of many tropical regions.  UCS claims that 15% of emissions that cause global warming come from tropical deforestation (more than all cars, planes, trucks and ships combined).  The connection between deforestation and emissions is not obvious. However, trees can be viewed as big carbon storage devices.  They absorb carbon dioxide out of the air as they grow.  When trees are cut down and burned or left to rot, the carbon they have stored is released back into the atmosphere.  In addition, deforestation has destroyed habitat for numerous animals and leads to loss of biodiversity.

Of course balancing the needs of the supply chain, the environment and local economies in (often) poor regions of the world is a challenging proposition.  But there are some bright spots.  Sarah suggests that there is movement on multiple fronts to address this problem, including promoting changes to the way we grow and produce vegetable oil, local jurisdictional controls on farming practices, and consumer campaigns that have changed the practices of companies who use the oil.

A relatively recent example of a successful consumer-driven corporate shift on palm oil sourcing happened in 2010 with Nestlé.  After being targeted for their use of palm oil from sources of deforestation in a public campaign, led largely by Greenpeace, Nestle has adopted Responsible Sourcing Guidelines. The company has committed to “ensuring that its products do not have a deforestation footprint,” according to its website.

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil is another growing resource in the fight to produce palm oil in a more responsible way. This group actively looks to improve the sourcing options, simplify the distribution channels and verify the supply chain for palm oil.  But it’s a complex problem, and some feel that the group has not gone far enough in establishing guidelines and certifications. 

In the meantime, the Union of Concerned Scientists will continue their program to publicize the issue, taking knowledge to product manufacturers and the public. 

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Sarah Roquemore:  Episode 53 of The Wendel Forum(27:53 mins; mp3)

UCS Report “Recipes for Success: Solutions for Deforestation-Free Vegetable Oils”: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/forest_solutions/deforestation-free-vegetable-oils.html

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil website: http://www.rspo.org/

Greenpeace follow up story on Nestle campaign (dated 5/23/2011): http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/One-year-after-Nestle-committed-to-giving-rainforests-a-break–what-has-been-achieved/

Nestlé Responsible Souring Guidelines: http://www.nestle.com/Common/NestleDocuments/Documents/Media/Statements/2011-Nestle_Responsible_Sourcing_Guidelines.pdf 

Natural Products Expo West 2012 website: http://www.expowest.com/ew12/public/enter.aspx

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

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

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In Episode 49 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on February 2, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Dick Lyons welcomes Stuart Rudick of Mindful Investors, LLC, a San Francisco Bay Area-based private equity fund focused on investments in natural food and product companies and technology that supports healthy lifestyles.

Stuart Rudick of Mindful Investors

Stuart Rudick of Mindful Investors

Stuart has been committed to investing in these types of companies for more than 30 years. His interest in companies with a focus on sustainability and healthy lifestyles emerged from his personal development as a yoga practitioner and vegetarian.  As healthy living became more important to him, he also moved toward investing in sustainably-minded companies.

In the early days, he found himself involved in companies in areas ranging from wind power to rice growers who had developed a closed-loop system that used the stalks for rice paper, rather than burning them.

Dick and Stuart discuss the investing trends they have observed during the past couple of decades and the rise of the natural food and organic products marketplace.  Stuart had a front row seat to the evolution of some of today’s well-known companies, such as Whole Foods Market, Seventh Generation and Odwalla.

Mindful Investors’ current interests focus on consumer facing companies in areas such as food and beverage, healthcare and technology platforms that support healthy lifestyles. Not surprising, there is a lot of activity in web and mobile development that supports functionality for applications such as bar codes to track the carbon footprint of a product, rich media like video to promote products, and platforms for distributing coupons and discounts.

Stuart shares the Mindful Investors approach to investing, including insights into time horizons and exit expectations related to investments in their portfolio.  He also acknowledges some of the challenges and strategies related to ensuring that when a company is sold, the parent company keeps the integrity of the product post-sale. 

As one of the early B Corps, he’s also a fan of the recently enacted legislation in California for Benefit Corporations (AB 361 – Huffman), which Wendel Rosen attorney Donald Simon had a hand in drafting.

So what is Stuart’s advice for young businesses? 

  • Realize from the start that you will need to raise capital, and a lot more than you think you’ll need. 
  • Bring in like-minded investors who are connected to your values in order to build trust. 
  • Bring in experienced senior level people to advise and guide you through your growth to better avoid errors and accelerate the growth of your company.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Stuart Rudick:  Episode 49 of The Wendel Forum(27:37 mins; mp3)

Mindful Investors website:  www.mindfulinvestors.com

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

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

Photo of Zem Joaquin

Zem Joaquin, founder and editor of ecofabulous®

In Episode 46 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on January 14, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo chats with Zem Joaquin, founder and editor of ecofabulous®, a trusted online resource for stylish sustainable living.

In her conversation with Bill, Zem discusses her journey of self discovery that led to the founding of the company.  Through her personal experiences with products ranging from cleaning supplies to toys that contributed to her own children’s health problems, she started her exploration to identify more sustainable products to create a healthier home for her family.  Immersing herself in this research for her own life, she soon realized that most families would not have the time to dedicate to the level of research she was able to perform.  Out of this idea, ecofabulous® was born. 

She delved deeply into all things a greener home might require, from building materials and interior design elements to the products found in the home’s walls.  With her knowledge and passion she created an online space where she could share what she learned, offering mothers and fathers everywhere reliable and trusted information on products that would be healthier alternatives for their families.  She shares her tips and inspiration in areas ranging from home décor and fashion to tech products.

Zem understands that sifting through the product choices leading to healthier living can be overwhelming to someone who doesn’t have the bandwidth to dedicate to extensive research, so she strives to make greener choices accessible, easy and fun. 

As she says in the interview:

“Eco-inspiration mobilizes.

Eco-guilt paralyzes.”

Listen to the episode to hear more about what inspires Zem, big projects in the works at ecofabulous®, and Zem’s picks for top eco-trends in 2012. 

What’s your greener style secret?  We’d love to hear about your great green finds for a healthy home. 

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Zem Joaquin: Episode 46 of The Wendel Forum (27:16 mines; mp3)

Ecofabulous® website: www.ecofabulous.com 

960 KNEW AM Radio (formerly GREEN 960 AM) 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

 

In Episode 28 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on August 20, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio), guest Thomas Simone, President and CEO of Simone & Associates,  shares with show host Dick Lyons  his perspective on the investment landscape for health and natural products.  He’s got a long history in the business, having work with companies including United Natural Foods (distributor for Whole Foods) and Spectrum Organics (oils and supplements), among many others.  His early involvement in this industry started around 20 years ago, after watching his daughter’s interest in natural products.

Tom Simone of Simone & Associates

Tom Simone, CEO of Simone & Associates

Over the years, he’s seen this industry as one of the highest growth areas in the economy.  What common denominators for success does he see?  The successful companies all start with a great team. Products don’t build a company, the people do.  An operating action plan is critical.  Tom is able to bring infrastructure and practical advice to start up company teams to help them turn their visions into sustainable enterprises.

He discusses the triple bottom line and its impact on investment decisions. He offers insight into how investors might go about valuing a business, how profits and prospects affect the valuation, and what kind of return investors might expect out of a business opportunity.

This is a man who knows the natural food and product landscape; in fact he’s been instrumental in shaping it.  We hope you enjoy what he has to say.  

SHOW NOTES:

Tune in to Green 960 AM radio tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. (Pacific) to hear an interview with Nick Flores of Investor’s Circle. 

 

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Tom Simone:  Episode 28 of The Wendel Forum  (mp3, 27 min 48 sec)

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

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

 

Jose Corona of Inner City Advisors

Jose Corona of Inner City Advisors

In Episode 27 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on August 13, 2011), Jose Corona, Cheif Executive Officer of Inner City Advisors (ICA), shares with show host Dick Lyons how the organization promotes the competitive advantages of locating a business in an inner city neighborhood.

Founded in 1996 in Oakland, the nonprofit group was born out of a Harvard Business School initiative.  Its mission is to help both companies and communities by promoting the advantages of locating in inner city neighborhoods and by providing companies with the advice and resources to grow their businesses.

Currently, they use a three-pronged approach:

1) They offer portfolio companies a network of experienced advisors that can provide both strategic and tactical, real-world advice to address the company’s business problems.

2) They provide an advanced entrepreneur program, modeled after a Stanford business course, to provide company leaders with the education they need.

3) They are developing a network of capital sources, including an ICA fund, to help portfolio companies grow when they’re ready.

Among their portfolio are several familiar names in the green community.  Who have they helped?  Well, here are a few names that you may recognize:

ICA is doing some great work.  And the proof is in the numbers.  Jose shares some inspiring statistics in his interview.  The companies in their portfolio are creating jobs and infusing wages and wealth into inner city neighborhoods. 

Let us know what other innovative business growth programs you see out there!

SHOW NOTE: Tune in to The Wendel Forum on Green 960 AM radio tomorrow, August 20, at 11:30 a.m. for an interview with health and natural product investment expert Thomas Simone.

Post Links:

Listen to interview with Jose Corona: Episode 27 of The Wendel Forum (mp3, 27.47 min.)

Inner City Advisors website: http://innercityadvisors.org/

ICA Case Study about Premier Organics: http://innercityadvisors.org/companies/portfolio/premier-organics/

Dick Lyons bio: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

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