Norm Thompson: Commerce With a Conscience
There was a time when corporate executives who wanted to establish sound environmental practices also had to resign themselves to reduced profitability. The thinking was: You could institute terrific environmental initiatives or you could make healthy profits. But you couldn’t have both.
Not anymore. In an age when every CEO is looking to boost profits and position his or her company for future growth, environmental sustainability programs deserve greater study—now more than ever.
“It’s only a matter of time before we Americans truly begin to understand that one of the reasons other nations dislike us is because we take more than our share of the planet’s resources,” says John Emrick, CEO and chairman of Norm Thompson, a four-title catalog company based near Portland, OR.
“Of course, being angry because America takes that larger share isn’t reason enough to fly a plane into the World Trade Center,” Emrick continues. “But I believe Americans will begin to feel a bit uncomfortable about our energy consumption and our impact on the planet and on other countries. So adopting environmental awareness now also can be seen as a defensive business measure for the future.”
Emrick, whose company produces the catalogs Norm Thompson, Solutions, Early Winters and Waterfront Living, is ahead of the curve on a general business trend recently spotted by The Conference Board, an economic research firm. The public, which once looked to government to protect the environment, now looks to individuals and businesses to do the job.
Meredith Armstrong Whiting, a senior research fellow in government affairs at The Conference Board, recently wrote: “A strong commitment to the environment and a record of good environmental stewardship serve to bolster a company’s reputation in the marketplace, which can have a positive impact on relationships with stakeholders, especially customers.”
Emrick and his staff couldn’t agree more. During the past few years, they’ve instituted numerous environmental sustainability projects. What sets these initiatives apart is that the cataloger has linked the projects, for the most part, to the company’s bottom line. The result is a fascinating study in fiscal responsibility coupled with environmental sustainability.