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Gerry Dick: Well the Indiana Department of Environmental Management created its Environmental Stewardship Program in 2006. It recognizes companies going above and beyond current environmental regulations.
Here now for an in depth conversation about innovation and environmental business strategies, are the members of three companies, executives of three companies participating in the program. John-Francois Brossoit, is a Plant Manager at Carrier Corporation here in Indianapolis. Tom Easterday, Sr. Vice President of Subaru Indiana Automotive of Tippecanoe County and Sam George is Vice President of Environmental Compliance at American Commercial Lines, in Jeffersonville. Gentleman, welcome to the program. Tom, I'll start with you. You hear about a corporate entity and environmental regulations and all that goes with that, which can be, let's face it as many times onerous, what prompted Subaru to really connect with this program and use the environment as really a business strategy?
Tom Easterday: Subaru has long been environmentally conscience as a company, and as a brand, and it fits very well with what we're doing. It gives us an opportunity to bench mark more with companies in Indiana, to network more, to get … We share our Kaizen ideas on the environment with them and they share theirs with us through this program. Also, provides some regulatory flexibility. We get more opportunities to not only meet with our regulators and discuss new ideas and innovation in environmental stewardship but it also allows us to, during for example the permit writing process, to meet with our permit writer, see if there can be creative things that not only regulate, but also tend to innovate as far as environmental stewardship so it's very good.
Gerry Dick: JF, at Carrier Corporation, what prompted your company to get engaged?
John-Francois Brossoit: Well very similar than Subaru. First, as you look at the ESP program, the requirements were right in line with our corporate policies on environment and the culture. For a long time Carrier and our parent company, United Technologies Corporation, has been strong at looking at the environment and reducing the environmental impact. So, that culture, our robust systems that we had, was a perfect match. So, really for us it was easy and it not require a lot of resources really to connect with them, apply and to be recognized for the good work we've been doing for a number of years.
Gerry Dick: Sam, how 'bout that ACL, long time Indiana company, another long time Indiana company? What prompted the...?
Sam George: I think that in addition to what has been said, we see it as a way to set ourselves apart from our competitors in our market place. These types of programs are very important to some of our very largest customers. And that is another aspect and benefit from these types of programs that we realize.
Gerry Dick: So, what specifically…. And I'll start with you Sam, what specifically are some of the things you're doing above and beyond you know as part of this program that really are part of the process?
Sam George: I think the above and beyond aspect of it implies that an organization first have an environmental management system, a very systematic way to approach how the organization interacts with, and changes the environment. And the environmental management system forces practitioners to identify and then set goals to reduce the impacts on the environment. In doing that, we receive substantial financial benefits by eliminating waste streams and preventing pollution. Jeffboat, our manufacturing subsidiary, won a governor's award this year for eliminating over a hundred thousand pounds of hazardous paint waste. We do a lot of painting on the vessels we make and it generates a good deal of waste and by focusing on that and reducing it, that's money in our pocket. So that's one of the most tangible financial benefits we get from the program.
Gerry Dick: So really obvious cost, you contribute right down to the bottom line.
Sam George: No question.
Gerry Dick: Yeah, how about at Carrier?
John-Francois Brossoit: Absolutely. Similarly, and I think that the outside from the recognition, right, of being part of the membership, both internally within our company, our employees and our community, there's significant benefits in moving our resources from recording, reporting, and writing permits towards continuous improvement activity. And I think we're all speaking of waste and Kaizen. And strong businesses look at waste in every stream and the environment obviously generates a lot of it. So there's good opportunities and that spirit of continuous improvement really led our people, our engagement, and here I am an Ops guy talking about environment. It's part of our culture. It's part of the expectation.
And our people are focused at finding some times small solutions that make a big impact. Like changing our process to wash our products, reducing our water usage by 21% just over the last couple of years, or even replacing lighting and practices like that that really make a big difference and actually hit the bottom line on top of, being, in reducing the environmental impact.
Gerry Dick: JF mentioned a culture which is one of the things I want to talk about as well. At Subaru you even had a big advertising campaign that really focuses and highlights the environmental things that you're doing as a company.
Tom Easterday: It did. It focused basically on our zero landfill status. We went zero landfill in May of 2004 and it also focuses on the fact that our entire 832 acres has been designated backyard wildlife habitat by the national wildlife federation. And our culture all along has been to follow the three R's, reduce, reuse and recycle. And particularly to focus on the green dividends that you can get. To focus on the fact that if you reduce waste and we've reduced our waste by 46% since 2000, you can actually generate cost savings. And last year alone, we saved about 2.4 million dollars through our environmental programs. And that's the message that we want to share with others because we know it can benefit other companies in Indiana, and that we can benefit from their ideas also.
Gerry Dick: Let's talk about… You talk about being a zero landfill operation. Put that in perspective for people who may not think about how substantial that is for an automotive plant to be in that status.
Tom Easterday: Well if you look back in 2000, we were generating about 459 pounds of waste per unit. And now we're all the way down to under 250 pounds per unit. So it's quite a bit of reduction during that period of time, but just simply, you put more into a landfill every day from your home than we do as a company.
Gerry Dick: Interesting. What about selling this, if you will, the idea on corporate level, the culture of your three companies seems to be right in line with this, but as you speak to others who say, "Yeah that sounds like a good idea, but how do we sell it to the corporate folks?" What's the key there? The cost savings, maybe?
Sam George: That is certainly a key. The first most fundamental issue for this process is to have top management commitment. If you don't have top management commitment, you're spinning your wheels. And the way to get those people's attention generally is to show financial rewards. But there's also a substantial reward in risk reduction. Whatever risk means to them. Fewer waste streams going off site reduces your risk. Fewer hazardous materials on site reduces the risks that your employees face every day. So you can sell it that way just as easily as the bottom line savings.
Gerry Dick: In terms of…. This is a program implemented by the state of Indiana, that working relationship between the company and the state, which I think in many instances and maybe other parts of the country or where ever it might be, can be maybe not more of a friendly thing, does this make the relationship between the state and the company maybe that much better?
John-Francois Brossoit: Absolutely. There's another huge advantage and I was talking about earlier the alignment of IDEM's program and our company culture, but the relationship with our local government is very, very important. To be able to partner. To have a voice. To know. And one simple benefit that we have is we have someone that is a permit writer that always deals with us. We deal with the same person. So that connection with regulators. Knowing them by first name basis, really helps streamline the process. And then we also leverage state government resources as an extension of our own resources to drive pro-active solutions that in the end help the bottom line.
Gerry Dick: Tom, we'll give you the last word. About thirty seconds here but in many ways does this program in your view, serve as a model to others around the country?
Tom Easterday: Oh absolutely. I think IDEM has done a great job with the Environmental Stewardship Program and I know Subaru is going to benefit from it and I think companies all across Indiana will.
Gerry Dick: Very good. Tom Easterday, from Subaru of Indiana Automotive; J.F. Brossoit from Carrier Corporation, here in Indianapolis; and Sam George from American Commercial Lines, southeastern part of the state. Thank you all for joining us and congratulations.
All: Thank you.
Gerry Dick: Well coming up, retooling a track and field organization. Bill Benner, goes inside Indiana sports with the head of USA track and field. That's coming up next.