Formerly known as Scope | Waikato’s business innovation and insight
TALKINGtech’s core values in action at Milk & Honey
Is New Zealand missing the boat?
Expectation vs reality:
Bernie Crosby explores the “triple bottom line”
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builds Community builds Business builds Community
“ The BNZ Partners Centres have given us an environment and facilities conducive to doing work. The coffee’s not bad, either.” Warahi Paki, Chairman, Ngati Tamaoho Trust
builds Family builds Community builds Business builds Community builds Family builds Community builds Business builds Community builds Family builds Community bu
The activities of the Ngati Tamaoho Trust are varied and widespread. A typical month could encompass anything from Treaty negotiations to business dealings. A growing challenge, however, was a suitable venue. The iwi’s premises had served well in the past, but progress now demanded a larger, better equipped alternative. The solution was close at hand. As a BNZ customer, the Trust had complimentary access to the BNZ Partners network of Business Centres. Utilising both Pukekohe and Highbrook addresses, the Trust subsequently enjoyed modern meeting spaces as well as full facilities, including wireless internet, conferencing equipment and even free coffee. Says Trust Chairman, Warahi Paki, “The ambience is relaxing, yet professional, enabling us to be productive in an environment that is extremely conducive to doing work.”
To find out how our Business Centre network can enhance your success, talk to us today.
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0800 955 455
Making a difference Welcome to the Summer 2012 issue of Nous. This issue is all about sustainability and not just the green kind. We look at the financial, societal, environmental and ethical concerns that are becoming everyday factors for truly sustainable businesses – how they’re being integrated, the opportunities they offer and why they’re important – and talk to a clutch of Waikato businesses and organisations that are doing just that. Everybody loves a grand gesture. It’s the romance, the feel-good vibes, the admiration for someone willing to risk so much for a cause. But grand gestures can be a bit like fireworks – they look good when they light up and they make an awful lot of noise, but once the initial pop fades they become but a memory and we all continue with our lives unchanged. Once it became trendy, sustainability became a cause that attracted these kinds of grand gestures. It was a luxury to be left to the businesses that could afford to do it and do it big. Conversely, it is the first thing to be dropped when times got tough. That is changing. And, as we found out while researching this issue, it’s not just the new generation of businesspeople that is
leading the charge – some businesses have been operating this way for decades, we just didn’t know about them. Sustainability as a word means “the capability to keep something in existence”, and for a long time that was interpreted to mean “earning enough money to keep the business going”. Businesses are widening that definition, in recognition of the other, non-financial costs incurred in turning a profit. A healthy environment and healthy communities are needed to sustain our existence as people and by extension our businesses – which means the effect we have on both these areas is as important as financial outcomes. Instead of grand gestures, businesses are now beginning to concentrate on adjusting – or in some cases overhauling – the core values that underpin their operations, focusing on making small, everyday changes that have a measurable impact on their business, the environment and the community that supports them. They may not be sending up fireworks, but once we started digging it wasn’t hard to find all sorts of businesses in the Waikato region that are playing their part. Whether it’s their raison d’être (Solscape on page 10) or a happy byproduct of a solid business idea (Findatruckload on page 14), the people we talked to for this issue are working hard to create businesses that deal with financial, ethical, societal and environmental concerns. This growing sense of responsibility, and rejection of the profit at all costs model, also throws up a number of new, potentially lucrative, opportunities, especially when it
comes to environmental technology. As a country with an international reputation for being green and natural, you would think New Zealand would be one of the first to take advantage of the great potential this market now offers. Unfortunately, as Greg Bruce explains in “Show me the green” on page 22, that’s not the case. It turns out that, other than a few success stories, we have been a bit slow off the mark in this area. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that we largely have our country’s many natural advantages – we’re isolated, lightly populated, free from disease and big users of renewable energy – to thank for much of our pure and natural image rather than our own efforts. It’s something that Bernie Crosby also picks up on in his Last Word (page 34), pointing out that being environmentally responsible is as much about preventing damage as it is about remedying it once it’s occurred. We cannot afford to sit on our green laurels. Nobody can. Studies show that consumers increasingly want to reward businesses that are making honest efforts to be kinder to the world and people around them, so in some ways it’s a simple matter of supply and demand. The key to promoting change is to share success stories and prompt honest discussions about the challenges and opportunities it involves. Enjoy this issue of Nous, and we’ll see you soon.
Ellie van Baaren EDITOR NOUS SUMMER 2012 3
Publisher Ian Cassels
Editor Ellie van Baaren
THE GREATER GOOD Milk and Honey café is just one example of TALKINGtech’s core values at work.
Contributors Vicki Annison, Brooke Baker, Greg Bruce, Anne Challinor, Bernie Crosby, Dave Lashlie, Marese McGee, Liz Root, Dawn Tuffery
Proofing Sue Geraghty
Web Crescendo Multimedia
Advertising enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org
Nous Magazine PO Box 11808 Wellington 6142 www.nousmagazine.co.nz Published in partnership with IN-Business Media Ltd www.in-business.co.nz ©IN-Business Media Ltd reserves the right to accept or reject all editorial or advertising material. No part of the magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publishers. Letters and emails addressed to the magazine will be regarded as for publications unless clearly marked not for publication. All rights reserved. While the publishers make every effort to ensure that no misleading claims are made by advertisers, responsibility cannot be accepted by Nous magazine, IN-Business Media ltd or any of the publisher’s related entities for the failure of any product or service to give should not be construed as an endorsement of it by Nous magazine, IN-Business Media Ltd or any of the publisher’s related entities.
ISSN 2253-2374 (Print) ISSN 2253-2382 (Online)
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HITTING THE ROAD Findatruckload matches empty trucks with businesses that want to move freight
satisfaction, inclusion of a product or service
Raglan’s Solscape offers more than eco-accommodation.
FOOD FOR THE SOL
THE COMPANY WE KEEP
REALITY OF CHANGE
Raglan’s Solscape offers more than eco-accommodation.
The most effective way to bring business and community organisations together.
Liz Root says sustainability in the construction industry is about more than waste.
SHOW ME THE GREEN
GIVE AND TAKE
HITTING THE ROAD Findatruckload matches empty trucks with businesses that want to move freight.
Marese McGee dispels the notion that community organisations are just after a handout.
On the cover: Photograph of TALKINGtech by Brooke Baker
Are we missing the boat when it comes to green knowledge exports? p.22
THE GREATER GOOD
SHORT CUTS The latest business news from the Waikato area.
Milk and Honey café is just one example of TALKINGtech’s core values at work.
FROM THE DESK OF… CAFÉ AGORA
We Are Waikato awards, SODA Pop Social Club, World Press Photo exhibition p.32
Integrating sustainable practices is about more than slapping on some green paint. p.26
Bernie Crosby explains the meaning and reality of the triple bottom line. p.34
Changing the world, one hot drink at a time. p.30 NOUS SUMMER 2012 5
FOOD FOR THE SOL
Auckland Level 10, 385 Queen Street PO Box 3978 Shortland Street Auckland 1140 Ph: + 64 9 375 2100 email@example.com
Palmerston North 915 Tremaine Ave PO Box 1099 Palmerston North Ph: + 64 6 354 4056 firstname.lastname@example.org
Christchurch 57 Princess Street PO Box 25208 Addington Christchurch Ph: + 64 3 341 2191 email@example.com
Hamilton Level 1, 469 Grey Street PO Box 19359 Hamilton Ph: + 64 7 838 1880 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wellington Level 3, 181 Vivian Street PO Box 6441 Marion Square Wellington Ph: + 64 4 802 7900 email@example.com
Bay of Plenty 20 Cessna Place Mt Maunganui 3116 PO Box 19259 Hamilton 3244 Ph: + 64 7 571 2086 firstname.lastname@example.org
“Mainzeal’s relationship management has been first class throughout their workforce, from management through to site management and workforce. Issues that have arisen during the project have been dealt with in a positive manner and resolved quickly and efficiently.” - Paul Bennett, Braemar Hospital
in partnership with
Nous magazine is a quarterly publication focused on leading edge technology and business innovation in the Waikato region. Our purpose is to provide insights, connections and inspiration to business decision-makers. This is a unique initiative supported by partners with a shared goal: to stimulate and support Waikato business growth. We acknowledge our foundation partners – Wintec, BNZ, Mainzeal and Gallagher – and associate partner Prolife Foods.
Foundation Partners “To be an integral part of the community, we partner with many different organisations and businesses throughout the region. Nous is about showcasing innovation in the Waikato and providing credible insights, connections and inspiration to our businesses, industry groups and organisations. Having a wide range of stories to inspire people and stimulate growth in our region is key to our commitment to this magazine.” Mark Flowers, CEO, Wintec
“Large, small or in-between, Waikato BNZ Partners offers businesses the support they need to grow and prosper. We believe there is no substitute for local knowledge and experience, which is why we provide access to local business specialists who can help you expand into new markets, manage foreign exchange, or simply enhance your cashflow – amongst many other things. Because, like the publishers of Nous, Bank of New Zealand is dedicated to the growth and success of the Waikato business sector.” Mike Frew, Managing Partner, BNZ Waikato
“Mainzeal has a proud history of constructing some of New Zealand’s most iconic buildings and the Waikato is no exception. The Gallagher building, Tainui Novotel, Braemar Hospital and Wintec House are fine examples of Mainzeal partnering to build a better Waikato. We support Nous in stimulating business and innovation in the Waikato.” Joe Roberts, Manager, Mainzeal Waikato
“We’re strongly of the belief that this particular medium reaches all organisations with a passion for doing the best in business, and we’re delighted to be involved. We see sponsorship as one of our core principles. It’s our commitment to the community. We’re always delighted when we find a sponsorship that fits all our criteria: the community, our staff and our stakeholders.” Margaret Comer, Corporate Services Executive, Gallagher Group
“Prolife Foods is a Waikato owned, Australasian Food Company, with well-known brands such as Alison’s Pantry, Mother Earth, Value Pack and Donovan’s. We believe, as we obtain our revenue from the greater community, we have a social and commercial responsibility to invest back in that community. Accordingly, Nous magazine is a tremendous opportunity to communicate with the Waikato (and New Zealand) business world by celebrating Waikato successes and promoting topical commercial issues.“ Bernie Crosby, Prolife Foods
We also appreciate support from: New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, SODA Inc, Opportunity Hamilton, Global Entrepreneurship Week and Colorite.
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Meet and greet Staff at Prolife Foods’ Te Rapa building got a chance to look up – literally – to some sporting heroes when several NZ Breakers basketball players dropped by for a visit. Among them was centre, Tall Black and former Waikato Piston, Alex Pledger. At 2.16m tall, Pledger is considered on of the tallest men in New Zealand sport and was signed to a development contract with the Breakers in 2009 after playing two seasons of NCAA Division I for University of Missouri Kansas City. After two seasons as an outstanding bench player, Pledger has stepped
up to starting centre for the 2012/2013 season. Mother Earth, one of Prolife Foods’ three consumer brands, sponsors the team’s No. 10 and posterboy Tom Abercrombie. Standing at 1.98m tall, Abercrombie has been part of New Zealand’s only professional basketball team since the 2008/2009 NBL season, winning the Grand Final MVP award in 2011 when the Breakers took the first of two consecutive championships. > www.prolifefoods.co.nz > www.nzbreakers.co.nz
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The full list of award winners is: • THE UNIVERSITY OF WAIKATO LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD:
Prof Campbell S Nelson • HAMILTON CITY COUNCIL EMERGING SCIENTIST Flickr user llee_wu
A University of Waikato computer science student has been awarded a prestigious scholarship that will see her studying for her PhD at Cambridge University in the UK. Katie de Lange is one of three recipients and only the second Waikato student to win a Woolf Fisher Scholarship, which rewards brilliant young New Zealand graduates who possess leadership skills, boldness of vision and exceptional zeal, keenness and capacity for work – all qualities admired by co-founder of Fisher & Paykel, the late Sir Woolf Fisher. The winners each get around $100,000 a year for up to four years to fund their study at Cambridge. The renowned university is home to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, one of the world’s leading centres for analysing and understanding genomes, which makes it an exciting prospect for de Lange, whose field of interest is biomedical informatics. She is particularly interested in human genetics and in developing genome analysis techniques that could help direct the development of new drugs to tackle diseases such as cancer.
Hamilton’s science community celebrated its own at the 2012 KuDos Science Awards at the end of September. The trust behind the awards – the Hamilton Science Awards Trust – was set up to recognise the contributions of scientists working in the Waikato River catchment, encourage high school students to enter the sciences and to raise the profile of science achievements within the Waikato community. This year’s awards were held at the Southwell Auditorium on September 28, naming winners in seven categories including a lifetime achievement award for Professor Cam Nelson. The award acknowledges a scientist whose research has made a major contribution to science of relevance to the Waikato region and to the international profile of New Zealand science. The University of Waikato professor took out the honour in recognition of his career in teaching and researching the Earth’s changing geography. His PhD suggested that limestone could be formed in non-tropical seas and challenged scientific thinking. “To have a Waikato award means a lot to me,’’ Nelson says. “I studied in the region, opted to come to the university’s Earth Sciences faculty when it was just new and have chosen to stay in the Waikato ever since, despite tempting offers to go elsewhere.’’ The KuDos awards have given out over $160,000 in cash prizes during their six years of existence, including $25,000 at this year’s awards.
Dr Kathryn Hempstalk • WINTEC SECONDARY SCIENCE TEACHER/ EDUCATOR/COMMUNICATOR:
Rachael Goddard • HILL LABORATORIES SCIENCE ENTREPRENEUR:
Dr Michael Duke “Genetic data sets are massive, so we get the computer to do the donkey work of analysis using machine learning and other high performance computing techniques. In Cambridge, I’d be in the right place to meet the right people in this field.” The Woolf Fisher Scholarships were established in 2003 by the Woolf Fisher Trust and are now also supported by the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust. Their main objective is that scholars will become leaders in their fields and make a significant contribution to New Zealand during their careers. > www.woolffishertrust.co.nz
• MEDICAL SCIENCE AWARD SUPPORTED BY WAIKATO CLINICAL SCHOOL:
Dr Martin Stiles • ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD SUPPORTED BY HAMILTON SCIENCE AWARDS TRUST:
Dr David Hamilton • NZ AGRIBUSINESS CENTER AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE AWARD:
Dr Colin Prosser and Dianne Lowry of Dairy Goat Co-op > www.thekudos.org.nz
CTC Aviation Group has been named among Britain’s top 200 private companies at the third annual Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 awards. The company trains around 2000 pilots each year for around 50 client airlines around the world, and does all its practical training at its centre in Hamilton. It ranked 32 on the International Track 200 league table, a ranking of Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing overseas sales, outranking internationally-renowned brands such as Cath Kidston and SpecSavers. The CTC Aviation Group’s international revenue has grown by 82 per cent a year between 2009 and 2011 from £812,000 to £2.7 million. The company began operating in Hamilton in 2004 and invested $18 million in its local facilities – a 19,000 sq ft purpose-built training centre and a self-contained facility that can house 128 trainees at a time. > www.ctcwings.com/nz
Flickr user T100Timlen
Shuffling the deck
The University of Waikato has announced it is partnering with the Home of Cycling Charitable Trust to develop a range of research and consultancy services around community and high-performance sport in the Waikato region. As the tertiary education partner, the university will have tertiary naming rights for the National Cycling Centre of Excellence (Avantidrome) to be built near Cambridge, as well as access to highquality facilities for staff and students. The Avantidrome will include a velodrome and associated space for athletes and administrators. The university also plans to further develop their teaching and research in sport science, management and other related areas, and the partnership means they will be the region’s preferred institution for professional and postgraduate opportunities for BikeNZ and High Performance Sport New Zealand. The Avantidrome is the second high performance centre to be located in the Waikato region and it is expected to attract high performance cyclists. The University’s $1 million investment in the partnership will be spread over five years.
Changes are afoot at the Waikato Innovation Park. After nine years at the helm, CEO Derek Fairweather is moving on, but he’s not going very far. Fairweather will now head up Dairy SolutioNZ, his brainchild and previously a wholly owned subsidiary of the Park. Established six year ago, Dairy SolutioNZ was born out of the desire to take the world’s best farming technologies and practices – many of them from New Zealand – to regions experiencing food crises. It has been spun out as a stand-alone entity with Waikato Innovation Park retaining 25 per cent ownership and Fairweather taking a 25 per cent stake. His new role will include securing another investor to take on the final 50 per cent share (currently held in trust). Chairman of Waikato Innovation Park Michael Spaans says Fairweather is the best person for the challenging role. “He built up the [Waikato Innovation] Park from nothing but a bare paddock and, he tells me, only $30,000 in the bank account. The Park now has $30 million on its balance sheet, which is a position largely attributable to Derek’s leadership. There is a long list of accomplishments Derek should be proud of.” In a matter of give and take, Dairy SolutioNZ’s global development director Stuart Gordon (pictured) has been appointed interim CEO of Waikato Innovation Park. A qualified chartered accountant with advanced experience in marketing, strategy and farm advisory, Gordon’s role with Dairy SolutioNZ’s involved working with large landowners and international governments to introduce them to New Zealand’s low-cost, high-quality dairy and beef farming solutions.
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Food for the Sol Although it has an ever-developing eco-heart, Raglan’s Solscape has never lost sight of its business goals. WORDS BY
aglan eco-retreat Solscape really had two beginnings, the first when Phil McCabe and his family took over the place formerly known as the Raglan Wagon Cabins, and the second five years later, while they sat in a cheap car on the Hawaiian island of Kauai listening to a radio programme called Democracy Now. But after they first bought it in 2002, McCabe and his young family, including three children aged 10, 8, and nine months, were just focused on tidying up. “There was a load of crap floating around, stuff that we had to tidy up, and when we were having guests it was 50-50 on checkout whether they were happy or not during that first year.” Now, he says, they have a much better strike rate and at least part of the reason for that is the change in direction they settled on that day in Hawaii in 2007. McCabe says he had been ecologically aware “to a degree” when he first started Solscape, but says there is a real distinction between being aware and being active. What happened in 2007 was that “I really started upping the journey for myself”. McCabe and his family had spent a couple of months in Hawaii camping and surfing,
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driving themselves around in the cheap old beat-up they bought on their arrival. One day, English journalist and activist George Monbiot came on the car radio, talking about his new book Heat: How to Stop the Planet From Burning. McCabe says something went off in his head. “I went and bought the book, read it and thought: ‘Shit yeah, there’s no time to waste, let’s get going folks’. That was the moment.” Before going home, the family took a short hop over to California where they saw an explosion of Toyota Priuses and heard sustainability being talked about wherever they went. “I remember thinking it was the beginning of a consciousness shift,” McCabe says. “You wouldn’t hear the word ‘sustainability’ in the media prior to that.” It reinforced to him that it was time to make a change. “We realised that we’ve got somewhere in the vicinity of 10,000 visitors coming through each year and they’re here for a period of time and we’re potentially in a position of influence while they’re here, and we thought: ‘Let’s capitalise on that and try to influence people in a positive way as far as caring for our environment’.” But it wasn’t just about doing the right thing for the planet; it was also about good business. “I got this feeling there was a shift about to
occur or occurring, where people are opening up to this idea around sustainability and it was clear that if we could position our business firmly grounded in sustainable practice, it makes a whole lot of sense from a whole lot of angles – from public perception to efficiency measures, cost measures. Standing out with a real point of difference is important in these times when it’s a little bit tough. If you’re run of the mill you run the risk of falling into the crowds. It was clear at that time that it was good to ground ourselves in that public perception.” Arriving back in New Zealand with a new brand, new name and fresh approach to practical sustainability was good fun, McCabe says. They sought to expand the place in what he calls a “gentle manner”, and one of their first steps was to create an example for the people who had often driven up the Solscape driveway in Audis and BMWs, fallen in love with the location and surrounds but turned straight back around when they saw the accommodation. The idea was to demonstrate that it’s possible to live in a very green house but be comfortable and stylish at the same time. The way they did it was with what they call the Eco Baches, two luxuriously appointed studios,
extremely ecologically sound and efficient. In building them, the McCabes opened a completely new market for more affluent visitors. “Once we built the eco bach, they were quite happy to be here,” McCabe says. “Because they can afford to be somewhere nice. Our offerings weren’t up to scratch before.”
“To be a truly sustainable operation takes a collective effort of an industry and suppliers to that industry.”
The design of the Eco Baches is passive solar, meaning that, even with no heating, on a sunny winter’s day it can be 22 degrees in the middle of the night. So, even though they were already carrying a reasonably high level of debt, and they borrowed more to develop the units, McCabe says the vastly reduced energy
consumption and high returns meant the risk was low. The Eco Baches are part of a wide spectrum of accommodation options at Solscape, including off the grid tipis, earth domes, railway carriages and other assorted buildings. They are also a YHA hostel, so at any time they could and do have an enormously broad mix of guests including backpackers, school groups, families, eco-tourists and the well-heeled, from both New Zealand and abroad. McCabe says they are still in a period of transition, a process of trying to bring the eco dream to full fruition. “We’re a long way from perfect and have a long way to go, but we’re in a period of transition and we’re actively seeking to travel that path. To be a truly sustainable operation takes a collective effort of an industry and suppliers to that industry. A single operation on its own …” One of the immediate challenges is power consumption – generating power on-site is a long-term goal. Another issue is attracting a more local customer base, as opposed to carbon-heavy visits from the other side of the planet. One way they’re seeking to do this is with their educational offering, which, among other things, includes a five-day eco learning adventure, a speaker series, permaculture
seminars, and partnerships with tertiary institutions. McCabe is always looking to innovate and introduce new methods of sustainable practice, always with an eye to what will work for the business. He sees the two as inextricably tied together. Rarely does sustainability cost. “If you know something’s going to work, you just make it work. Essentially every single thing we’ve done on this property has worked financially for us. When we built the tipi retreat it was a 70 per cent return on investment, it took one and a half seasons to pay for itself. The earth domes took one season to pay for themselves.” “We know we’re on to a good thing, so it’s not really scary.” The idea for the business’ latest venture came, McCabe says, like a lightning bolt, during the Waikato Regional Council’s Adding Sustainable Value programme. One of the programme’s workshops focused on how they could make changes that would reap big gains. McCabe says he had always thought Solscape would eventually provide a food option, but it was during that workshop earlier this year that he thought, “okay, we’ve got to do this”. > NOUS SUMMER 2012 11
One of the major ecological downsides to the Solscape business had always been the food that guests brought on site: often processed, packaged, and imported, because there was no other option. At the same time Solscape had extensive lawn space, a under-utilised part of the business’ asset. That could be turned into productive space. The lightning bolt was called Project Solfood, which McCabe describes as an exploration into what it means to eat locally and what it means as a business to provide that option for guests. His team has established a large garden, planted seedlings, and are now almost ready to start selling food to guests. The project has been no small undertaking. “It’s not a few square metres, it’s a lot of square metres,” McCabe says, “and we need to be really coordinating with a chef as to what they want to be serving and we need to be months in advance to have the food ready. It’s definitely a learning process for us and no doubt we’ll stumble, but local food is in the consciousness of even the mainstream public – that it’s better.”
“I’m absolutely still learning and will be forever I’m sure. But there’s no question that the public and the business world are seeing the sense behind sustainable practice.” He says making money won’t be difficult. “We’re growing food, passing it through a window and selling it as a meal. So we’ve got the captive market and it just makes sense. We’ve got space. The setup is low cost. It’ll make a bit of money. It’s basically stacking another couple of businesses onto our existing business.” With the development of the educational market, and groups using a meeting room facility directly upstairs from the café, there’s also the option of another revenue stream meeting the catering demands of that group. The café is due to start operating before Christmas, offering a hearty, wholesome vegetarian menu. Although it’s the latest step in Solscape’s long journey to sustainability, it’s unlikely to be the last. “It’s definitely been and still is a learning curve,” McCabe says. “For me, as director of the business, I’m absolutely still learning and will be forever I’m sure. But there’s no question that the public and the business world are seeing the sense behind sustainable practice. The public are looking for it in the products they’re purchasing and businesses are seeing it as a sensible way forward.” n 12 NOUS SUMMER 2012
Hitting the road There’s a new online matchmaking website in town and it has an unusual target audience – trucks, and the companies that run and fill them. WORDS BY Vicki
ommuters wanting to reduce the effect their driving has on the environment are encouraged to carpool, and now, thanks to www.findatruckload.co.nz, any one of the trucks you see on the road today could be part of something similar, a modern day truckpooling service. Findatruckload is an online marketplace that pairs existing empty trucks travelling on New Zealand’s roads – or rail and coastal shipping options where available – with businesses that need transport, thereby reducing the number of trucks on the road and the industry’s carbon footprint. Those emissions savings also make Findatruckload itself carbon neutral by cancelling out its own emissions. More than 100 loads a month across the country are currently arranged through the site, growth that goes beyond the financial – the more loads it matches up, the more the business helps ease congestion, lower the number of road accidents and road wear and 14 NOUS SUMMER 2012
tear, as well as saving both parties involved time and money which may then be passed on to consumers. That’s not even mentioning the potential effect it has on air quality and the environment. But, as un-PC as it may seem, it wasn’t environmental sustainability that motivated Andrew Bishop and Walter Ormsby to start the business up. The two former Mainfreight employees saw how much the road transport industry spent on running empty trucks and decided to investigate how to alleviate the issue. After looking at overseas models like the American site, www.123loadboard.com, they left Mainfreight and developed the Findatruckload website in early 2009. The website offers businesses that need to move freight many options including a real-time database of empty trucks and instant email alerts that send a notification when an empty truck has been loaded onto the site. More than 500 businesses are now registered to receive these email alerts.
Alternatively a business can put their requirement to the market in Postaload, creating an anonymous classified listing on the website from which transport companies can submit a private tender or quote for the job. Registering and viewing trucks and loads on the Pay As You Go site is totally free, with a 6 per cent success fee paid by whoever accepts the fixed price or offer or a load or truck. Hamilton-based Bishop, who has a degree in Transport and Logistics from Lincoln University, says the biggest challenge the company has faced is getting known to businesses and finding people to help manage the growth. “There are two ways to grow; either chuck a whole load of money at it and hope that you succeed or take one step at a time, identify the problems and overcome them.” One large constraint for the company has been developing the website, something that has required continual investment to keep up with the market. “We are creating automation
“There are two ways to grow; either chuck a whole load of money at it and hope that you succeed or take one step at a time, identify the problems and overcome them.”
within the system to help with the efficiencies but it all flows back at the end of the day to help us be carbon neutral,” says Bishop. Despite this, Findatruckload are definitely in the business for good and looking to overcome any problems. In the beginning business support wasn’t a big part of their operations, but they are now looking to other organisations to help them grow. “I’ve always been a big believer in asking for help. Don’t be afraid to ask people for their help and their views; that’s how I ended up finding out about places like SODA.” SODA Inc is a Hamilton-based business incubator that provides start-up businesses with the connections and capability to grow in order to energise and transform businesses for the benefit of the region and the national economy. Findatruckload has been accepted into their pre-incubation programme and with their help and advice, Bishop is determined that the company will not only be carbon neutral for the forseeable future but also be operating in
five different countries by 2015. Environmental sustainability may not have been the major motivating factor in starting up Findatruckload, but, in an industry that is inherently unhelpful for the environment, it’s their green credentials that have helped them win several awards. They were commended in the 2011 Westpac Environmental & Sustainability business awards for Taranaki and received a commended award for innovation in the EECA Awards which recognise small to large businesses that demonstrate energy efficiency and conservation. Bishop is confident the company can handle their planned growth, and says the potential doesn’t stop at world domination. “It’s a massive market; I cannot even quantify how big the market is. At this stage it’s all B2B [business to business] but it’s potentially anyone that has a requirement for transport, we’re only scratching the surface at this moment.” n NOUS SUMMER 2012 15
The greater good Milk and Honey café is more than a revenue stream for the TALKINGtech Foundation, it’s one way of showcasing the Foundation and its parent company’s shared values. WORDS BY Dawn
TALKINGtech: More and more people are not just looking for a career, but also a company with ethics behind their actions. 16 NOUS SUMMER 2012
ot everyone has heard of TALKINGtech, but they’ve almost inevitably engaged with its technology. The communications company has woven itself into the fabric of daily life, enabling us to “press two to top-up by credit card” or find out a reserved item is ready for collection. “We’re trying to do business in a smarter way and make it more efficient,” says head of marketing and communications Jason Szabo. The company specialises in interactive voice messaging and automating the payment collection process. They also offer marketing and notifications, including automated communications for more than 1500 libraries globally. The next aim is to make the company’s philosophy of “people first” equally as widespread. Szabo describes the genesis of TALKINGtech, which started in 1986. Founder and chairman Ray Stark was offered a mysterious object by his piano teacher, who didn’t know what to do with it. Stark consulted an IT-savvy friend and it turned out to be a dialling machine. They tested it out with a local butcher’s shop as a client, programming in 100 numbers and recording the week’s
meat specials on a cassette. The first major customer was Telecom, following up overdue accounts. “The next morning there was a queue of people outside the post office waiting to pay. Obviously that was successful and it grew from there.” Despite having just under 60 employees, TALKINGtech now punches well above its weight, with high profile clients including Vodafone, Telecom, O2, and Virgin Media. The research and development office is based in Hamilton but the company has an impressive global reach with people in Auckland, Sydney, South Africa, the United States, Canada, Argentina, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. The TALKINGtech Foundation was formed in 2005 and is a natural extension of Stark’s philosophy in business, says Foundation CEO Simon Finlay. “He wants to make a difference and use this company as a vehicle to do that.” Finlay recounts a story about Stark shutting the London office for a day and flying to France simply to talk to a despondent staff member. “I learned something through that experience. I’d thought it was a bit much, but that guy stayed and was loyal to us for years. Two years ago Ray asked me to go full time on the
Foundation so we could be more intentional with it.” Since then they’ve done more than 70 projects worldwide, from helping individuals with disabilities to building a school in India. A percentage of TALKINGtech’s profits every quarter is allocated to the Foundation. They also seek additional funds, and the popular Milk and Honey café at the top of Hamilton’s T&G building is one of these initiatives. All profits from the operation go into the Foundation and the space is rented out for meetings and functions, even hosting its first wedding recently.
“With your food basket and my food basket, the people will thrive. That’s the theme we’re trying to go for.” The café runs on a koha basis and has been promoted purely by word of mouth, gaining kudos for its panoramic view and fair-trade organic coffee. “It’s going from strength
to strength and we’re looking at opening weekends in the future,” says Finlay. However, the space offers more than just a revenue stream. “It’s about showcasing our values and getting people to understand what we’re doing,” says Finlay. “Our main aim is to be doing good things in the community, but the other is to be introducing people to the whole philosophy of generosity as they stop and think about giving.” Both Finlay and Szabo see business success and social generosity as forming a vital synergy. “Our staff around the world understand and engage in this philosophy. I think it’s actually a solid business model to operate in this way,” says Finlay. Szabo agrees, noting that the funds earmarked for the Foundation are non-negotiable, despite the demands of being an IT business needing to invest in the future. “Some staff used to a corporate environment might be a bit sceptical, but it goes both ways. More and more people are not just looking for a career, but also a company with ethics behind their actions.” Inevitably there have been other challenges along the way. For Finlay, the Foundation’s growing profile has meant higher demand
on the funds available. “The difficulty now is having to say no to some really good things. That is one of the key reasons why we’re actively trying to promote other businesses to come on board with us and help make a significant difference.” While the café’s koha system involves a certain amount of risk, the two have been amazed at how well it’s working, with only a handful of issues arising over eight months of operation. Finlay admits that the high-rise location provides a little bit of “insulation” and isn’t sure if it would be as successful at street level. Finlay also has the ongoing challenge of making Stark’s vision come alive in the real world, which, adds Szabo, is no small feat. “Ray has really great dreams he wants to happen overnight. It ends up a compromise between the two.” The original old dialling machine now sits atop the stairs at Milk and Honey, a reminder of one successful dream. Finlay finishes with a proverb, which will soon be appearing on the café wall. “’Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou, ka ora ai te iwi. With your food basket and my food basket, the people will thrive’. That’s the theme we’re trying to go for.” n NOUS SUMMER 2012 17
The company we keep When it comes to giving back to the community, one of the most effective ways of making a difference is to support an existing organisation, but there’s a lot more to it than simply writing out a cheque. WORDS BY
Ellie van Baaren
he saying goes that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their friends, and business is no different. Who the company chooses to employ, use as a preferred supplier, and partner with is the physical manifestation of the company’s core values. The decisions are therefore made with care and are continually reassessed as the relationships evolve. A community or not-for-profit partner also falls in this category. The last thing anyone wants is to align themselves with an organisation that alienates their customers or puts them in the media headlines for all the wrong reasons. And believe me, the community organisation itself is thinking along the same lines, even if there is big money on the table. Sport Waikato is a not-for-profit charitable trust that focuses on sport, recreation and physical activity within the community. Their motto is “active for life” and that founding principle plays a large part in deciding which private sector partners to get into bed with, so to speak. “We’ve had businesses approach us in the past who wanted to be associated with us but were in an industry that didn’t really fit with what we stand for,” Sport Waikato CEO Matthew Cooper says. “So we made a philosophical decision to say no. It’s important that you weigh it up, especially when you’re getting public money.” Consequently Sport Waikato does due diligence on potential partners to discover what their approach is to 18 NOUS SUMMER 2012
wellness in their own workplace, before taking the relationship further. It gives them a real understanding of what the business is looking for, something Cooper says the business itself must also put some time into discovering. Which is exactly what Wintec has done. Dean Merran Davis says that having a broader view of who Wintec’s customers are is key. “We see our customers as not just students but also employers,” she says. “A lot of our grads are employed in community organisations and not-for-profits and they find it’s very different to the private sector. It tends to be a much more values-driven culture with complex stakeholders.”
“We’ve had businesses approach us in the past who wanted to be associated with us but were in an industry that didn’t really fit with what we stand for. So we made a philosophical decision to say no.” Matthew Cooper
Being able to give those students experience in such an environment while they are still studying helps them hit the ground running once they move into the workplace and gives them a greater awareness of their employment choices. “Also it’s about the recognition that we as an institute contribute to the area’s economic and social development – really healthy community organisations lead to healthy communities.” Wintec works with more than 30 employer partner groups, and has four community organisation alignments. It was a process that started at the top, with chief executive Mark Flowers. While they already had longstanding relationships with Sport Waikato and Habitat for Humanity, this process led them to formalise those existing alliances and move towards a more project-based approach. This has encouraged more collaboration, which in turn has led to projects that involve up to three or four partners, rather than Wintec and one particular partner. Of course, it doesn’t happen by itself. Wintec has dedicated specifc staff resources to maintaining and developing these relationships. A big part of their role is working out who does what in the different organisations and who is therefore the best person to talk to about different topics. “Everybody is time-poor, trying to more with less,” Davis says. “Particularly with >
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community organisations that are reliant on money, and are getting less and less of it. We have the capability to look at the opportunities to mitigate against that. These things don’t happen overnight, you’ve got to built the trust and knowledge, you can’t just speed it up or jump over it.” Simon Perry agrees. As chair of the Perry Group and chairman of the Brian Perry Charitable Trust, he sees things from both sides of the fence. The trust was set up specifically to contribute to local community projects after the original Perry Foundation (now part of the Lion Foundation) developed more of a national focus once it got involved with distributing gaming funds. It has a symbiotic relationship with the Perry Group. The company leases some of its buildings from the trust as one way of contributing – “plus it’s handy having a friendly landlord!” – they work together on community projects such as the cycling velodrome planned for Hamilton and Waikato Stadium, and they share resources, for example, when it comes to human resources.
“It’s a global village, and this can grow that awareness of life outside Hamilton.” Nic Greene
It’s a simple trust with four trustees that has developed four to five partnerships, as well as giving out a number of small grants. “There’s never enough funding and we only have so much to go around. We have to say no to quite a few worthy ideas.” Perry says the trust makes those decisions based on a strong vision of building a better tomorrow and the values that underpin it: passion, integrity, a hand up, a youth focus, and thinking globally, acting locally. “We prefer to use a three-year timeframe with the organisations we work with, we don’t want to create a dependency,” he says. “We don’t want to control it [the organisation], but we do want to fill any needs that we can – whether that comes through helping them broaden their funding base or by gaining sponsorship or through administration support.” It’s a distinction Perry says every business needs to make when they’re looking at ways to give back to the community – sponsorship or philanthropy. The first is usually more about providing funding, which in turn provides the company with marketing leverage – it’s a reasonably straightforward transaction. The second involves a more in-depth relationship like the one Perry describes above. While one is not necessarily better than the other, they require different levels of commitment and it depends what capacity the business has available. 20 NOUS SUMMER 2012
“The idea of philanthropy is still fairly immature in New Zealand,” he says. “There’s quite a lot happening behind the scenes, but it’s not an established way of working for businesses like it is in the US. With philanthropy, you have to be passionate about the cause and the people. It’s more of a lifestyle decision.”
eneral manager for the central North Island affiliate of Habitat for Humanity, Nic Greene, likes to see his organisation’s partners as becoming “part of the family” and as such it’s important that there’s a shared vision. “You need someone who understands that at the base of it, all people are people,” he says. “Everyone deserves a chance to live and enjoy life. Our partners don’t just value profit, they have a desire to see their own staff develop.” As an affiliate, the central North Island organisation has its own board of directors and seeks out its own local partners to complement the nationwide arrangements in place with head office. Greene says each of the partnerships works differently – they have a number of suppliers that gift in kind through low-cost services or products, or that donate goods to Habitat’s second-hand stores that can be sold to help fund the organisation’s work. “It’s really valuable as an exchange of ideas and information, for events and networking. It helps us get outside the ‘charitable’ model.” As with any organisation, not every partnership has been entirely successful and Greene says that has often come through not setting expectations correctly up front. Some businesses are looking to sign up for 12 months, then talk about logos, newsletters and return on investment, but are disappointed when they can’t quantify the benefits. On the other hand, there have been other partnerships that have started small and have developed into something quite different. Greene uses Envirowaste as an example. The company approached Habitat asking if they could do a local flyer drop with Habitat’s logo on it and the relationship has grown from there, based around a desire to stop steel going into landfill. Anything that Envirowaste comes across that has value is directed to Habitat’s second-hand shops. Sport Waikato’s Matthew Cooper agrees that aligning with a community organisation won’t necessarily bring through new business straight away, but it does brings with it good values and good networking oppor-
Sport Waikato’s Matthew Cooper
Habitat for Humanity’s Nic Green
tunities. “For instance, Sport Waikato gives our partners an alignment with 250 primary and intermediate schools in the region and 45 secondary schools, regional sporting organisations and their clubs, as well as our not for profit networks. Not for profit organisations can help you, it’s not just about giving.” Similarly, staff members from Habitat’s partners have participated in some of the organisation’s international build trips, exposing them to new cultures, knowledge and understanding that they then share with their colleagues back home. “It’s a global village, and this can grow that awareness of life outside Hamilton.” Simon Perry has some very simple advice for business owners. “Don’t be afraid to dip your toe in the water. I have to say that while I get very animated about the things that we’re doing in the business, I get a lot of satisfaction from getting involved in a community project that will make a difference.” n
Show me the green Fast-growing countries around the world are on the lookout for the technology and expertise they lack when it comes to being greener and more sustainable. Itâ€™s a valuable currency that New Zealand should be perfectly placed to provide, but we seem to be missing the boat. Greg Bruce
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“It’s going to go off, but when it’s going to go off we don’t know. I think it’s a very clever strategy if you can get it right and if you can get it scalable.”
ew countries in the world have such natural advantages as New Zealand when it comes to being green. We’re isolated, lightly populated, free from disease, big users of renewable energy. It seems fair to suggest that we should be a global thought leader when it comes to green knowledge, skills, systems and technology. So are we? Rachel Brown is the chief executive of the Sustainable Business Network, an organisation dedicated to helping businesses succeed by becoming more sustainable, and she thinks not. “I think New Zealand is geared to be a leader in that space but I don’t think we’re grabbing the opportunity. My feeling is, we could be an exporter of knowledge around a whole lot of things, particularly around farming and that could go from relative mainstream to organic farming and can also include things
like renewable energy. There are a whole lot of opportunities we can leverage off and then export and share with the rest of the world. But we’re not doing it. “I think partly it’s because we don’t have a very strong vision for this nation around that as a possibility. Our government has said they want us to be a fast follower in this space, which means you don’t lead, which means you’ve missed the opportunity. And that call has put us behind the eight ball.” Which of course is not to say nobody is doing it. Brown says there are some great examples of businesses that are doing really well exporting the green knowledge they have established here at home. For businesses that haven’t yet moved on the opportunities, now could be a good time. “It’s going to go off,” she says, “but when it’s going to go off we don’t know. I think it’s a very clever strategy if you can get it right and if you
can get it scalable. And if you can get it so it’s attractive to different markets, I think you can do incredibly well.” Juliet Roper of Waikato University agrees with Brown that New Zealand is missing a big opportunity by coming up short in the field of sustainability. “I think the market is absolutely there,” she says, “because every country knows for example that they’ve got to reduce carbon emissions. China knows this and is doing what they can and if you can put money into research and development and you can come up with something innovative you can export, there will be a market for it, there’s no two ways about it. But everybody’s trying to do it. If we could do it, then yes, go for it, and we do do things. It’s hackneyed, the old can-do mentality. But it works – we can do it.” One example of a Waikato company that is doing it is CLIMsystems, a business that >
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has become a major global player in climate modelling software and services, to the point where they have been contracted to carry out climate modelling for one of the world’s biggest sporting events, the 2022 FIFA Football World Cup in Qatar – an event which will attract millions of visitors and at which temperatures could potentially reach 50 degrees. CLIMsystems had its beginnings at the University of Waikato. In the late 1980s, Richard Warwick, a leading researcher at the Climate Research Centre in the United Kingdom, visited the University’s International Global Change Institute and was offered a job. “He brought all his climate change knowledge there and that was it,” says CLIMsystems’ Peter Urich. “That was the seed. It was sown and germinated and a number of us were brought in and we built it up.” The company is now a tight group of 11 based in Hamilton, with around 20 associates worldwide and a high-level scientific advisory panel of seven of the world’s leading climate scientists. About 80 per cent of the company’s employees have PhDs, Urich says. The company sells software, development and consulting. What the scientists are really excited about though, Urich says, is the new modelling the company does with clients on a case-by-case basis, helping clients to solve problems around the issues of climate change risk and adaptation. “What we actually do is work with big data,” Urich says. “There’s some massive climate models out there done by amazing super computers all around the world, but that data is really inaccessible to people. People would look at it and go: ‘I’m very interested in climate change and I know their models, but that stuff’s just gobbledygook to me’, because it’s masses, terabytes of data for one thing, then they go: ‘This is just zeros and ones, what does it mean?’ What we do is take that big data and we massage it into tools that are really useful 24 NOUS SUMMER 2012
and we can get a synergy there and build up some quite innovative linkages across the data to develop new models and things. We really assemble some cool stuff and can answer some serious problems people are having.
“We’ve done like most other organisations do: we start out with the low hanging fruit, looking at waste and that kind of thing, trying to work on the whole issue of awareness.”
ivestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) is another Waikato company that has recently made a strong move toward sustainability, first creating an environmental policy, then building the momentum to create a full time in-house role, which has been filled by Steve Schoultz. The Newstead-headquartered company inseminates 75 per cent of the country’s cows, has five or six depots around the country and 520 permanent staff, so the move to sustainability is not simple: “It takes a long time to steer a big ship,” Schoultz says. Although LIC does export some of its bull semen, Schoultz says that is a very small part of its business. Right now, its sustainability efforts are about getting its own house in order.
“In terms of initiatives, we’ve done like most other organisations do: we start out with the low hanging fruit, looking at waste and that kind of thing, trying to work on the whole issue of awareness.” Some measures that have been implemented include a regular carbon footprint measurement, and a sustainability scorecard assessing resource use like fuel, electricity and air travel. It may be just a step in the right direction, but it’s an important step. Juliet Roper of the University of Waikato says that while individual companies, and some sectors, such as the wine industry, have actively sought to establish sustainability credentials, many others haven’t. Her research, she says, has left her somewhat cynical. Roper says she agrees with the Pure Advantage Group, founded by business leaders including Sir Stephen Tindall, Jeremy Moon and Rob Fyfe that our environment plays a critical role in the value of our exports and that we’re not doing enough to protect it. Some industries, she suggests, have actually opposed sustainability initiatives. “I went through all those submissions to ratify or not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, because they have a number of public consultation rounds, and all the industries that had a vested interest in being allowed to emit carbon without being taxed for it, they did not want us to ratify, they said it was going to be too expensive.” Roper wants to see more of an effort from government to implement policies that give equal weight to sustainability and economic growth. “We’re looking at speeches [the government is giving] across the board. The whole notion of sustainability has been either morphed or dropped,” she says. “Depending on which minister you look at, many of them come right out and say economic growth is our priority, the rest can follow. They’re not looking equally at social and environmental sustainability along with economic growth.” It’s not all doom and gloom though. Brown says that we can still catch up and take a leadership role. “There are always opportunities. It’s not like you get one opportunity and if you don’t do it, you miss out, but it depends if the nation would get behind it and start really seeing that as how our people are and how we encourage and foster new business growth for our country.” The opportunities will always be there for forward looking and forward thinking businesses to make the most of what is presented by the ever-growing global desire for sustainable solutions. SBN is working to pull networks together in meetings and showcases where businesses can talk about the issues they’re facing, along with the opportunities and trends. “What we’re wanting is to show people there are solutions for everyday activities here now in New Zealand,” she says. “We just need to support them.” n
Reality of change Every business has a different view of how they can contribute to their industry’s overall sustainability and in construction the key is for contractors to get involved earlier in the process, a movement that tends to take a back seat when financial times are tough. Liz Root explains.
e all like to think we’re special or different, and in working for a main contractor I, of course, think that for us corporate social responsibility, or sustainability, is a very different proposition. We do not have an off-the-shelf product, or range of products, that we can manufacture in a more efficient way, and we don’t necessarily fit in the typical “service industry” grouping. We manage construction projects, delivering a building or infrastructure to a client, and for this we may be engaged on a different contract from one project to the next. Each project is unique – while there are structural typologies, each building will have a different combination of components, on a different site, with different conditions.
“Returning to traditional tendering where a main contractor is engaged at the last minute and ‘lowest price wins’ may work for the short-term financials but opportunities to do things better can fall by the wayside.” We are traditionally engaged at the end of what has been a long journey for our clients, who may have been working with a design team for months or even years to get their project realised on paper. So what are our impacts and opportunities?
We can only build what’s drawn, so this must mean that we have little opportunity to affect the sustainability outcomes, right? Wrong! So how can we be more sustainable, what can we actually do? Current perception identifies waste as a main contractor’s principal impact area – and construction and demolition waste is certainly a significant contributor to waste in our landfill and cleanfill sites in New Zealand and an area where our sector can help reduce New Zealand’s negative footprint. But this thinking fails to recognise the potential contribution in terms of methodology and approach to construction – construction engineering for a better outcome. Potential outcomes such as reducing excavation, avoiding haulage, using lower impact materials or even reducing material requirements for example which all contribute to a more sustainable outcome. There are models, such as “early contractor involvement”, that enable a main contractor to feed into project design before the final lines are drawn. While this is often initiated by the desire from a client to manage timeframes and cost, it allows value to be built into the project and efficiencies to be identified. Integrated design, a recent movement in collaborative working, recognises that the sum equals more than the parts. This collaborative method for “whole building design” pulls all disciplines (architect, engineers and project manager) together to set joint goals and identify strategies for achieving the desired outcomes. This produces more cohesion and better solutions, where the building works as an entity rather than a series of parts. However with the tightening of belts taking place in the current market, financial models that reduce opportunities for a better outcome are rearing their head again with short-term thinking bubbling to the surface. Returning to
Liz Root is the sustainability manager with Mainzeal Property and Construction Ltd.
traditional tendering where a main contractor is engaged at the last minute and “lowest price wins” may work for the short-term financials but opportunities to do things better can fall by the wayside. Consultants return to “silo” working and clashes reappear on site, wasting time, materials and dollars. So what do we need to make our sector more sustainable? A change in thinking to focus on the long game, to recognise that requiring a collaborative way of working is beneficial in terms of achieving the best outcome. We can do our best with waste management and implementing environmental controls on site, and will continue to strive for excellence in this area, but without foresight from those funding projects, opportunities for a sustainable outcome will continue to fall through the net. n NOUS SUMMER 2012 25
Reality bites It’s not enough for a business to be successful, it also needs to be sustainable, but how does it really fit in with the daily grind of running a business? The smallest actions can make the biggest difference. WORDS BY
Ellie van Baaren
26 NOUS SUMMER 2012
hoice is a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be able to find exactly what you want, but, when faced with unlimited options, it’s determining what you want, and what’s best, that becomes the challenge. It’s the same with information. The internet has put untold reams of information at our fingertips, including the informed and not-so-informed opinions of any number of experts to muddy the waters. And sustainability in business is one of those topics that provokes a lot of opinions. It’s not the concept of sustainability that causes the controversy – experts, business owners and consumers alike agree it involves making a positive financial, social and environmental impact through doing business in a responsible manner – it’s the practical application of that concept. It’s not necessarily a divide between the different groups; everyone has a slightly different interpretation of what sustainability means to them, and by extension what a sustainable business looks like. The 2012 Sustainable Business Council/ Fairfax Business and Consumer Survey showed that 60 per cent of the 700 respondents said their organisation behaved sustainably. When they were asked to explain what specific actions their organisation had taken to lower
their impact, however, there was a very broad range of responses, some of them in opposition to each other. For example one respondent said they were being more eco-conscious by emailing rather than using the phone, while another said they were being more responsible by using the phone rather than email. Sustainable Business Network chief executive Rachel Brown says the discrepancy doesn’t mean that sustainability itself is a fuzzy concept. The most important distinction is that policies and actions a business makes in order to comply with legislation, for instance around waste, don’t count towards its green credentials. Increasing their competitive edge is put forward as one of the more potent motivators for businesses to incorporate sustainable processes into their business model. Phrases such as the “green dollar” and “environmentally conscious consumers” are liberally used in boardrooms, consultations and conferences of all kinds in an effort to make the concept less hippie and more business savvy. There is some truth to it. Studies have shown that the vast majority of consumers believe that acting environmentally responsibly is important, however they are far more keen for companies and corporates to make the changes first, rather than adapting their
own lifestyles in any major way. Especially if it costs them extra money. One particular American study shows that more than half the respondents factored in a company’s environmental and social activities when making their buying decisions. While they weren’t willing to make many sacrifices in their own lives to back this up, they were willing to reward companies that prove their commitment to the cause. This will no doubt only increase as the public becomes more educated and the next generations start wielding their new spending power. But, as with any ideological shift, doing it simply for the commercial gains it could bring is a risky move. The monetary benefits will not be immediate and may not be easy to quantify, which means without the extra ideological push, motivation will quickly taper off, especially if the business hits a financially difficult period. It’s also difficult to get staff buy-in if the only motivation you can give them is increasing your profit margins. Any kind of sustainability policy needs to come from the top, right at the top, and it’s important that it filters through all levels of the business. The first step is to look at your own motivations, your own passions, and create a set of values that underpin your business’ every
activity. Imbuing the entire company – its processes, relationships, HR and client projects – with these values will expose any number of actions that can improve its social, environmental and financial impact. It will also clarify the wider impacts of each of your decisions, making difficult choices a bit clearer.
“Consumers are far more keen for companies and corporates to make the changes first, rather than adapting their own lifestyles in any major way.” As long as management is seen to be espousing these values, staff will be more likely to take it to heart and independently refer to it when making decisions in their own day-to-day responsibilities rather than simply following a list of instructions. No action is too small. In fact a large number
of small, genuine and effective actions can combine to make a big difference. Some businesses can afford to get appropriate official certifications – including organic, carbon neutral, fair trade – and it may make a huge difference when it comes to their marketing plan, however, it’s not the only path. If time is one of the things holding you back, look around you. You probably already have a sustainability champion amongst your staff. Someone who is passionate about it, has already integrated it into their personal life and is just waiting for an opportunity to help lead that change. The key is that they know they have the full support from on high – from the research stage right through to implementation. Lastly, don’t get caught up with making it happen overnight. A slow, gradual change is more effective and enduring, not to mention less stressful. Start by looking at the resources you use and how you work; there will always be little savings here and there that will take very little pain to implement and that after a short time will become second nature. Approach it like you already approach bettering your business – create targets, review progress and add new actions on a regular basis. Before you know it, sustainable will have become your new normal. n NOUS SUMMER 2012 27
Give and take
It’s easy to dismiss not-for-profit and charitable organisations as constantly having their hands out for donations and that’s a perception that gets to Marese McGee, because, as she explains, the reality is completely different.
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ver the 20-odd years that I’ve been in New Zealand I’ve seen a growth in sophistication when it comes to community organisations. We are not charity cases – in fact, at the Community Living Trust, we seek out partnerships that are reciprocal and offer us a hand up, rather than a handout. I like to say that we are actually for profit; we just do something different with the money. It goes back into the organisation rather than being distributed amongst shareholders. In fact, we want to make a small profit so we can extend our services. Just like a private business, we have a strong plan that we need to deliver on every year, and because we use taxpayers’ money, we owe it everybody to be fully responsible and accountable for how we spend it. At the Community Living Trust, we work with a whole range of people, mostly with intellectual disabilities. They have the same needs, the same wants and the same desires as everyone else and we do whatever we can to help them achieve their dreams.
“I really believe that if you support the most vulnerable in our society and enable them to have a good life, then everybody steps up.” New Zealand is very different to other countries. We have moved away from the charity model, especially when it comes to people with disabilities. Many other countries almost medicalise disability – they see the disability before the person. In New Zealand it’s seen as society disabling people with their attitudes and actions. We look to give people opportunities within the community in ordinary jobs, rather than segregated workshops, and it tends to be with SMEs rather than larger companies with sophisticated HR departments and more stringent employment guidelines. Most start with part-time work and build it up from there. We currently have 400 full-time employees in the Waikato region, supporting over 700 people. Through our payroll and our operational transactions we pump a lot of activity into the local economy. The mutual partnerships we have built up with local suppliers and vendors over the years reciprocate through services, resources and volunteers, which in itself helps break
down barriers and ignorance. Everyone learns through interactions and the collective exploration of solutions for the people we work with, which moves us all forward towards an inclusive society. For example, we are working with a bank to look at making it easier for people who cannot sign their names to open and operate a bank account without jeopardising the safety of their money or the bank’s systems. We’re also touching base with innovative IT providers to discover ways of enabling people to live healthier lives in their own communities, and stay safe in their own homes, for as long as possible. And finally, as part of our strategic alliance with Wintec we’ve worked with students, tutors and management to design a house that would be suitable for someone with disabilities. It was the perfect opportunity for the students to put their learning to use in a practical, real-life situation. We judged the house designs to find the most suitable and sent four or five to the finals where we chose one after input from an architect. Now that house is being built at Wintec’s Rotokauri campus. The house has doorways at a certain width, everything is at a certain height and there is a flow of movement to it that will work for people in wheelchairs – it’s brilliantly designed. I was amazed at what has been included – if every house could be designed with that in mind we would have more houses suitable for anybody to live in, especially older people. It has been great working with the trades schools through this type of activity. Since the signing of the Strategic Alliance in September 2010, six projects have been completed and five projects are currently underway. These projects have received wide engagement from the Wintec Schools (including the School of Sport & Exercise Science, School of Engineering, Science & Primary Industries, School of IT, School of Built Environment and Trades, School of Media Arts, Centre of Health & Social Practice). The Alliance was driven by both organisations’ desire to take leadership responsibility to build an inclusive society for all, both near and far. The two organisations agreed to work together to benefit people with intellectual disabilities, students and staff of both organisations, as well as the communities of the Central North Island There are a lot of roles that people can play – we can’t all be in the All Blacks, but they need people to make the uniforms, bring on water and oranges at half time and so on. I really believe that if you support the most vulnerable in our society and enable them to have a good life, then everybody steps up. n
Marese McGee is the chief executive of the Community Living Trust, a Hamilton-based organisation that supports people with intellectual disabilities.
“Many other countries see the disability before the person. In New Zealand it’s seen as society disabling people with their attitudes and actions.”
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30â€ƒ NOUS SUMMER 2012
From the desk of… Café Agora
Making a commitment to give back to the community financially, and sticking to it through the business’ ups and downs, can be difficult. At Café Agora, Elisabeth Taylor says it’s a core part of the business plan. AS TOLD TO
or those who fancy some compassion with their coffee, Frankton’s Café Agora is on to a winning formula. Owned and operated by Agora Community Trust, the café supports the local and international community via various successful initiatives, including water and sanitation projects in Thailand, foodbank collections and donating 50c from each hot drink sold to a different local organisation each month.
“Hey, what shall we do with this?” Our motivation is to pass on goodwill where it’s needed. People initially were saying, “Well, you’ll never make money with the ideas that you’ve got”. And initially that was the case. But slowly that’s come together and we’re able to make a little bit, although we’re still paying back debt at this stage. The plan is to have something there so you actually come to the end of the day and say “hey, what shall we do with this?” rather than giving away money while knowing we’ve still got to somehow make it work. A key factor in improving the turnover has been focusing on the quality of food available and getting in some really good chefs – just stepping it all up a bit.
50c a cup 50c from every hot drink sold goes to a local organisation. People with causes come to us and we ask them what their core community thing is, and then we have trustees who decide if that’s something we think is worthy of support. This month it is Streetworks, an organisation that runs a day, several times a year, where they do some good in the community. They put an ad out that they need volunteers, and we put on a breakfast for them all here at Agora. Last time we had 200 people for breakfast and sat them all out in the church there. Then they were all excited to go and do their work, which was gardening, chopping wood, cleaning houses and windows, painting and whatever they could find. “Tri-It: The Big 3” This time Streetworks has a few things they’re doing. One of them is Food for the Hungry, where they’re making up meals and delivering them. They go out there on working trips locating these community members who really need help. My husband was out a couple of weekends ago and it’s amazing the people they get to meet. Some are too scared to walk out their door because life’s been too harsh on them and they just need a hand to do the gardening, things like that.
La Mai Coffee and Rahab House We buy our ethically-grown La Mai coffee from Thailand. The purpose of it is that if the village people grow crops of coffee, then they can earn an income and they don’t have to send their girls into prostitution. We’ve been involved with sending two teams to Thailand to put in fresh water and sewage systems for villagers up in the hills. And we also support Rahab, which is a house for girls who have been saved from being involved in prostitution and are taught new ways of earning an income, whether it be sewing or jewellery making or whatever, so they don’t have to go back to it. What next? We won’t be taking any big steps at this stage, as making money is a new thing and we have repairs to make. But there is a lot more to do – we’d love to get a bit more involved in Rahab, and there are more Thai villages that need fresh water. And there’ll be more than that; bigger things in the community that we’d like to get involved with in the future. For people going into this sort of thing, I think being patient is the main thing, and just taking it one step at a time. n > www.cafeagora.net.nz
Another thing they’re working on this time is Hope Rising horse farm and they’re helping fix it up. That’s for underprivileged children who are struggling, and these kids can go out to the farm, where they actually have a horse they can care for and learn to ride, and it gives them so much encouragement. Streetworks are also doing some work for Conductive Education Waikato Trust, a rehabilitation and education early childhood centre.
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SODA Pop Social Club
On October 4, business leaders, entrepreneurs and interesting people gathered at SODA Inc’s offices on Victoria Street for the monthly SODA Pop Social Club. Attendees were treated to a number of 150-second SODA Hotspot talks, with each speaker sharing their knowledge of a project and/or a way of thinking that has inspired them. The October event included international business adviser David Parrish talking about creativity in business and a talk from Microsoft’s Thiago Almeida. The SODA Pop Social Club happens on the first Thursday of every month, head to www.sodainc.com for more information.
1. Deborah Duffied; Anton Pires; Ro Edge. 2. Thiago Almeida, Microsoft. 3. Sharon & David.
World Press Photo Exhibition Around 100 people got an exclusive preview of the World Press Photo Exhibition at Wintec in September, the first of more than 3000 people who came to look at the collection of stunning international photos. The exhibition is the result of an annual competition that attracted more than 100,000 entries and it was the first time the exhibition has come to the Waikato. www.worldpressphoto.org
1. Prue Jefferis, Wintec; Allyson Robertson, University of Waikato; Lynnette Flowers, Netball Waikato. 2. Jurre Janssen & John Dow, World Press Photo Exhibition. 3. Jacqui Cribb, Phoenix Group; Ronny Phillips. 4. Deputy Mayor Gordon Chesterman; David Cook, Wintec. 32 NOUS SUMMER 2012
We Are Waikato Awards Seven individuals and companies were recognised in October for their inspiring contributions to the Waikato region’s built environment and economy at the Property Council’s We Are Waikato Awards. More than 150 people gathered at the University of Waikato’s Academy of Performing Arts in Hamilton for the awards ceremony. The winners included Simon Perry from the Perry Group; Greenstone Group for Te Awa at The Base; Phoenix Group; and Anna Wilkins and Mark Apeldoorn from Traffic Design Group. Head to www.propertynz.co.nz for a full list of winners. Photographs by Grant Stantiall.
1. Greenstone Group project team for Te Awa. 2. Connal Townsend, Property Council New Zealand. 3. Paul Sumner & Bobbie Davis, Harcourts; Richard Graham, Fonterra. 4. Natalie & Darrel Hadley, Jason & Genaya MacKlow, Phoenix Group. 5. Murray Robertson, Downer NZ; Jeff Myles & Robyn Denton, Hamilton City Council; Anna Wilkins & Mark Apeldoorn, Traffic Design Group. 6. Simon Perry, Perry Group; Te Radar. 7. Terry Buchan, Hawkins Construction; Colin Jones, Commercial & Industrial Consultants. 8. Darrel Hadley, Phoenix Group; Eric Rush; Roddie Sim, Roddie Sim Barrister. NOUS SUMMER 2012 33
Triple opportunity Bernie Crosby explains his interpretation of business responsibility – one that incorporates financial, social and environmental factors. Dawn Tuffery
AS TOLD TO
Bernie Crosby is one of the founders and directors of Prolife Foods. 34 NOUS SUMMER 2012
ome years ago the triple bottom line approach was adopted by one significant company that I know of. It is an approach that adopts a benchmarking of excellence on environmental, social and financial factors. The concept, I believe, was admirable, however, the triple bottom line approach has not continued. In an unstructured way these issues still need to be addressed. The first responsibility of business is to survive and to do this invariably means making a profit. Sustainability needs this profit to ensure longevity of survival, however, that can mean there is an immediate tension with the social, community and environmental demands. The first priority of profit-making means you must have an organisation with capability – a breadth and depth of skillsets – and therefore some feel that the social and community elements are met through employing people. I believe business has a greater responsibility beyond this aspect. I personally believe there is a responsibility to give back to the community when your revenue is received from the community. We are our brother’s keeper, and have a responsibility for those not as fortunate as ourselves. Personal values become personal behaviours; business culture is based on the business behaviours. The bottom line is that personal ethics and values support the company’s values. The culture of the company is the glue that binds people together. It is where attitude, commitment, passion and drive originate. It is a primary driver of the success of sustainability on the organisation. The values a company has are based on shareholder expectations and today there is a wide range of attitudes and models. In public companies, you can buy the shares today and sell them tomorrow, so there’s less need to get involved in the long-term issues of the company. In fact do any investors even care or know what the company values are? They want to make profits, because people buy shares for increased profits. Very often, in my mind, public companies are not all necessarily good community citizens – increasing shareholder value is their primary objective. They can be self-interested and driven by their shareholder demand for profit, which doesn’t mean the people who work there don’t have good values.
I believe that private companies invariably help the community more than public companies due to the shareholder structure and the personal values of the shareholders. There is often a higher interest in helping the community and private business often recognises that they get revenue from the community. Accordingly they then give back to that community. In our Waikato business community we have some outstanding companies whose generosity is exceptional and needs to be applauded. They should be acknowledged as heroes for the people, clubs and organisations they help. It is social and community responsibility at its very best.
“You need to build a business that meets tomorrow’s needs before tomorrow comes.” As well as public and private structures, there are companies or trusts such as electricity providers who collect money for providing a service and the profit is given back to the community. My view is that they should only charge the consumer at a level where they can meet their outgoings, making little profit and leaving the surpluses in the hands of their clients. It is good to re-distribute this money, however, I believe it should not be collected in the first place. Credit Unions are another type of structure. They are very unique; they have a true community spirit and do a tremendous amount of social good. They collect money from their members and they redistribute this by way of loans back to other members. It is an absolutely outstanding form of social responsibility based on sharing. Environmentally, as earlier stated, we are our brother’s keeper, and this means not only for today but also for future generations. We are caretakers for the environment, and I believe we have got a tremendous distance yet to travel in this responsibility. New Zealand has tremendous resources and this alleviates some of our environmental challenges: we have abundant fresh water;
we have a long land mass; and we have wind that blows across the country in both directions replenishing our land with fresh clean air and water. In some ways this desensitises us to pollution; we’re spoilt by our natural environment. But this doesn’t give us licence to be irresponsible. An important aspect of sustainability is not to incur the problem rather than trying to remedy it, and I don’t think we’re putting enough effort into prevention. A glaring example of countries having confidence in New Zealand’s clean green safe food image is the hard-to-satisfy demand from China for infant formula. Primarily I believe building a socially and environmentally sustainable business is driven by accepting your responsibilities, and this does not mean solely financial profitmaking. There is outstanding commercial advantage in using these values to communicate your unique attitude to your client base. I believe it can increase your sales and client retention. Clients are increasingly developing an attitude towards companies that do the right thing. Business is invariably driven by one of two things – aspiration or need. Leadership is underwritten on the values and behaviours of the shareholders, to a greater or lesser degree. I believe being environmentally, socially and fiscally responsible, with the outcomes being virtuous, builds a business that meets tomorrow’s needs before tomorrow comes. This builds sustainability. I believe social responsibility is increasing due to companies recognising the importance of this aspect to their bottom line. There are a lot of people in the community who want to work for good companies, and that “values alignment” is imperative to their job satisfaction. Business needs the intellectual, emotional and physical connectivity of its people. This means engagement by head, heart and hand. The key is to capture their heart and the rest will follow. That values alignment is increasingly the difference between companies that are good and companies that are great. The importance of people in your business growth and aspiration can never be underrecognised, and I believe their satisfaction and commitment is invariably based on the values and behaviours of the shareholders. That this will build a better tomorrow for us all. n
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