Norm Thompson: Commerce With a Conscience
Jewett says these programs, coupled with the energy-cost savings from the building, saved Norm Thompson about $500,000 last year. Additionally, she set a five-year goal of $5 million in cost-savings from the sustainability projects. Results thus far indicate the company easily will hit that mark.
All Norm Thompson principals agree that one of the biggest benefits to these environmental projects is improved employee morale—especially important in challenging times such as these.
Says Jewett, “Our employees tell us they love working here because they feel we really care about our community. These projects keep people focused, and they can take a lot of pride in their work. We’ve pushed the decision-making on the sustainability issues down the line. We’ve involved employees, so they feel pride in ownership and in their problem-solving skills. From an HR standpoint, that is very beneficial.”
To encourage idea-generation, Emrick and Jewett instituted a quarterly awards program, the Mobius Awards, to recognize employees who devise creative sustainability projects that also help improve the company’s bottom line. “Winning a Mobius is very prestigious in our company,” says Jewett.
These and other sustainability programs have not gone unnoticed in the business world. Norm Thompson was awarded the Robert Rodale Environmental Mailer of the Year in 2000 and 2001, presented by The Direct Marketing Association and administered by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Also, the State of Oregon and City of Portland asked Emrick and his staff to consult with agencies such as the Port of Portland and the Portland Public School District to help administrators implement their own sustainability actions.
“We started out relatively alone in these endeavors,” says Emrick, “but we’re not standing alone anymore.”
Says Jewett, “Once you start looking at your business practices through an environmental lens, you’ll be surprised at what you see. Making even small changes will improve your bottom line, because you’re using your resources more wisely.