Walking the Exhibit Halls at the Green Sports Alliance Summit in Chicago two weeks ago, I was looking for innovative companies making a positive impact at the intersection of Green and Sports. Finding them was easy–they were all over the place! The hard part was choosing only 3 to highlight. It was a tough call but, we went with Eco-Products, the leader in environmentally friendly food service packaging, Cyclone Technology, a hard surface cleaning equipment company that uses a fraction of the water of its traditional competitors, and Stoller Family Estate, the first LEED Gold winery in the world.
ECO-PRODUCTS (BOULDER, CO)
BACKGROUND: Eco-Products, founded in 1990, started out as a father-son company that sold other companies’ green(er) office products. Management took things to the next level beginning in 2006 when Eco-Products developed its own foodservice packaging brand, from cups to containers, from utensils to lids.
CURRENT SNAPSHOT: Eco-Products is #1 in single serve, environmentally friendly food service packaging, with its GreenStripe (made from renewable sources) and BlueStripe (made from post-consumer recycled content) brands. The company reached the $100 million sales threshold earlier this year. Eco-Products, whose motto is “Green Is All We Do,” issued its first, detailed sustainability report in 2014 and, per Sustainability Maven (one of the greatest job titles ever) Sarah Martinez, will do so annually going forward. In fact, click here for the 2015 version.
Sarah Martinez, Sustainability Maven, at the Eco-Products booth at the Green Sports Alliance Summit in Chicago. (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)
SPORTS: Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins and Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners, are two of a number of sports venue customers–according to Martinez, sports now represents approximately 20% of sales and is growing.
FUTURE: One key to growth for Eco-Products is for there to be greater access to composting at sports and other entertainment venues. As for Martinez, she hopes that in 5 years that venue operators and fans alike will think “it’s ludicrous to make a non-compostable cup for a 10 minute life span.”
CYCLONE TECHNOLOGY (TEMPE, AZ)
BACKGROUND: Cyclone Technology, a division of Nilfisk-Advance Technologies, has a unique, patented cleaning system which prevents ground water contamination and uses dramatically less water in the cleaning of outdoor hard surfaces.
CURRENT SNAPSHOT: Cyclone is a small division of Nilfisk at present, with annual sales under $10 million. But perhaps they’ll be blowing by that plateau in the not-too-distant future.
You see, unlike most surface cleaning methods, which rely on abrasive action and/or chemicals, Cyclone’s system is non-abrasive and water-based. The patented process relies on heated water being applied at high pressure to create a high velocity cyclone which cleans concrete and asphalt surfaces, like stadium and arena parking lots. The surface is left clean, dry and usable immediately with almost 100% of the waste products being recovered without contaminated runoff.
But, this process has to use vast amounts of water? As detailed by Bill Bamford, Cyclone Technology’s General Manager, the answer to that question is a resounding NO: “By spraying the water down at high pressure, we force the waste out. Then the system filters the waste water and then reuses it 2-3 times throughout a cleaning. So Cyclone actually uses far less water than traditional cleaning methods.” How much less? “About 4-5X less,” chimed in US Account Manager Brent Wilson, “for example, if we’re cleaning a 100,000 sq. foot area, our system will use 390 gallons of water while a traditional system will use 1,500 gallons.”
Bill Bamford (L) and Brent Wilson (R) display one of Cyclone Technology’s non-abrasive, water pressure-based cleaning heads at the GSA Summit. (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)
SPORTS: Sports represents 15% of total Cyclone Technology’s sales, a percentage that Bamford expects will grow.
FUTURE: Over the next 3 to 5 years, Bamford would like to have Cyclone Technologies be “the recognized leader in high pressure cleaning.”
STOLLER FAMILY ESTATE (DAYTON, OR)
BACKGROUND: Stoller Family Estate is located in the Dundee Hills in the wine growing region of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Owner Bill Stoller, founder of Express Employment Professionals, bought the property from his cousin in 1993 as a hobby, planting 10 acres of Pinot Noir and 10 acres of Chardonnay in 1995. He gradually grew the business, building the winery in 2005. In 2006, his commitment to sustainability netted Stoller Family Estate LEED Gold certification, the first-ever vineyard to earn that designation.
CURRENT SNAPSHOT: Sustainability is embedded “in everything we do,” offered Business Development Manager James Falvey, who added that “it’s Bill’s biggest passion.” The vineyard is certified Low Input Viticulture and Enology (LIVE) and Salmon Safe. It collects winter runoff into a water reservoir with a total capacity of nearly 10 million gallons, which is used to irrigate during exceptionally dry years. Fallen timber is turned into bird boxes which attract birds and thus enhances natural predation.
While no hard data exists to establish a causal link between Stoller’s sustainable branding and sales growth, the business is certainly trending upward as it grows greener. 2014 was a stellar year for Stoller and 2015 is shaping up to be even better. So says Betsy Hannaford, the vineyard’s Marketing & Communications Manager: “We sold 18,000 cases in 2014, up 15% vs. 2013. And in 2015, we’re on pace to sell 25-30,000 cases.” Those sales come from two main tiers; Dundee Hills and Reserve. Two other tiers, Legacy and Single Acres, are sold only on site at the winery’s tasting room.
James Falvey and Betsy Hannaford of Stoller Family Estates at the GSA Summit. (Photo credit: Lewis Blaustein)
SPORTS: Stoller Family Estate wines are currently poured in the luxury suites at the Moda Center, home of the NBA’s Trail Blazers, with high satisfaction rates reported.
FUTURE: It’s safe to say that Moda Center is just the beginning of the sports-Stoller relationship; Falvey sees great potential to marry greening sports venues with wines from the first-ever LEED certified winery. And, given the wines’ outstanding quality, sports fans will no doubt become Stoller Family Estate fans.
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