Hagerstown businesses spending green to work green

July 26, 2008|By AUTUMN PAPAJOHN

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown businesses are spending more green to go green to preserve resources and meet the needs of customers concerned with the environment.

"Corporate responsibility is forcing everyone involved in business to consider the social, ethical and environmental impact of all of its activities, customers and overall community," said Stuart Mullendore, vice president of marketing and general service for HBP Inc., a graphic printing company.

HBP Inc., Weiss Bros. of Hagerstown Inc. and Hagerstown Kitchens Inc. are green-certified through an assortment of programs and policies that regulate green quality.

In business since 1903, HBP elects to follow green guidelines set by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which helps evaluate forest management practices and the tracking of forest products.


"Right now, 20 percent of our services and products are FSC-certified, and it's always growing because everyone is becoming more green-conscious," Mullendore said.

Over the last year, $300,000 was spent to make the HBP facility green-friendlier, Mullendore said.

HBP also provides e-business porting, a process that preserves energy, paper and ink by putting client information and projects on a CD instead of printing graphics. The company started using vegetable-based inks in 1995 to be more green-conscious and now uses EcoSmart Ink, which is an environmentally safe ink product developed for print companies in search of cleaner, greener inks.

Mullendore said he suspects more businesses will become green, if they are not already, to retain their profit and product popularity.

Embracing the movement

Like HBP, Weiss Bros. is embracing the movement.

The company, a distributor of industrial packaging, disposable food service items, sanitary paper products and janitorial supplies, provides products made of soy, corn and sugar cane, which are Green Seal Certified and Environmental Protection Agency compliant.

Weiss Bros. President Richard Weiss said more customers, such as Washington County Hospital and Washington County Public Schools, are demanding greener merchandise.

"The green push is coming from the environmental side of the industry, so manufacturers are forced into creating more green products, even though it's not always cost-effective," Weiss said.

Green products tend to be more expensive, but Weiss added that his company sells more inexpensive products made of plastic and plastic foam. Those products are not in high demand with people wanting to be more green-conscious.

"Environmentally friendly products can be four or five times more expensive, especially if they're made of things like corn," Weiss said. "Just because the price we charge is higher doesn't mean that we, the middlemen, are making more money."

Weiss said he eventually expects all products that the company distributes will be green because of the emphasis the government is placing on green efforts.

Marketing and personal benefits

As chairman of the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, James Lobley, president and CEO of Hagerstown Kitchens Inc., helped create the Environmental Stewardship Policy.

The policy requires that all materials used in Lobley's kitchen cabinetmaking business meet the lowest formaldehyde emission standards and are green-friendly, helping to create green homes.

To become certified, Hagerstown Kitchens started recycling and using formaldehyde-free wood. The company also had to change to wood vendors that are green-certified. Green cabinets are about 20 percent more expensive than nongreen cabinets, Lobley said.

Some states give tax credits to people who build green, but Maryland has yet to make the jump.

Last year, the National Association of Home Builders gave Hagerstown Kitchens a thumbs-up for its efforts, awarding their cabinetry points to go toward green home building. That was huge praise for his company, Lobley said.

"From a marketing standpoint, going green is a magnificent plus, but from a personal standpoint, it's just something that's good to do for the community and the family," Lobley said. "If we don't practice good environmental policies, when my children's children take over the company, there may not be wood to make my cabinets."

All three Hagerstown companies have representatives that routinely give talks in the area and up and down the East Coast promoting a green environment and educating fellow businesses about the benefits of going green.

Green business tips

  • Consider using renewable solar and hydrogen energies and other green powers.

  • Use energy-efficient technology such as Energy Star to reduce air pollution and carbon dioxide in the workplace.

  • Redesign company buildings to optimize natural energy sources.

  • Use recycled paper to cut down on paper production.

  • Conduct waste assessments to help reduce, reuse and recycle.

  • Produce and promote green-certified products and services.


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