Profile of a Sustainable Business / KB Retires from Mohawk

During March Madness, analogies abound with winning teams in sports and business.  Although the NCAA tournament is a “one-and-done” elimination, teams have worked all year to get to the championship.  They also want to return next year with a strong winning tradition, like Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, or UCLA.  Everyone wants to be on a sustainable winning team.

Sustainable businesses are critical to the needs of society.  If businesses fail, the economic leg of Sustainability suffers, which subsequently affects society and the environment.  Leading a Sustainable organization requires that leaders be multidimensional and values-based with their focus.  Building on LRN’s CEO Dov Siedman’s concept, leaders must balance the needs of eight elements: customers, environment, employees, shareholders, communities, society, suppliers, and future generations.  From the executive suite to the frontline sales and floor operations, people dedicate long hours and themselves not only to make a living for their families, but to sustain the business for society.

So what does a Sustainable business look like? …An example of what I consider a “Sustainable” business is Mohawk Industries, where I have been fortunate to work for more than ten years.  Consider some of their results:

  • Stock price increased over 20% in 12 months and over 100% in 24 months.
  • Revenue increased 27% over 2012, to over $7 billion.
  • Earnings/share increased 73% over 2012.
  • Grown from a US based business to being global with over 30,000 employees on 5 continents.
  • Grown organically with a new $180 million Dal-Tile manufacturing plant in Dickson, Tennessee, adding 320 jobs.
  • Millions have been invested in new technologies and processes to improve competitiveness, as well as the internal and external environment.
  • Innovative sustainable products are being constantly rolled out.
  • For the 3rd consecutive year, Mohawk was recognized as the most sustainable flooring manufacturer in the Southeast Corporate Sustainability Rankings.
  • Sustainability efforts resulted in the number of “Zero Process Waste to Landfill” sites growing to 16, over 3 billion plastic soda bottles being recycled into carpet, and over 1.4 million used tires being re-purposed into attractive door mats.
  • Caring for people is validated by a 15% improved OSHA Incident Rate over the last 24 months and being awarded one of the “best of the best” Top 5 Trainers of 125 candidates in Training magazine.
  • Recognizes and responds immediately and successfully to offset headwinds such as increased raw materials prices.

Mohawk has been growing as a Sustainable business for years, balancing their contributions to the eight elements.  My insider experience predicts they will continue.

Having cited all of that, this week I retired from Mohawk Industries, planning to move closer to family.  Serving this Sustainable corporation has been a privilege, honor, and adventure for which I am deeply grateful.
However, having previously spent thirty years in the tire business, “re-tire” means to put new tires on the car and refuel for a new trip.  Translation: I plan to venture back into the consulting world, doing freelance consulting work, building on another adventure.  Stay tuned, as I pursue new ways to Pass It On. The FrontLine Focus blog will continue.

With heartfelt thanks to my Mohawk colleagues from the frontlines to the executive levels, may God’s richest blessings be with you as you continue to build a Sustainable company.

Quote from Dov Siedman, CEO of LRN, in his book How: “What makes an institution sustainable is not the scale and size it reaches but how it does its business – how it relates to its employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers, the environment, society, and future generations.”

Sustaining the Winning Tradition

Sustaining the Winning Tradition

Posted in Sustainability | 4 Comments

Being Truly Sustainable !

Larman’s manufacturing plant was proudly celebrating the achievement of Zero Landfill Process Waste.  Then, it dawned on me that his team of 250 people was now generating less waste each week than my wife and I did at home.  What’s wrong with this picture?!  Humbling!

It was gratifying to see one of our Mohawk Home teams achieve the “Zero” distinction, displaying their unique t-shirts touting, “We’re good for nothing!”  The plant culture had shifted to a new level of waste management, safety, housekeeping, and quality.  The spillover effect into other areas of the business was unmistakable.  Just as gratifying over one year later is that the culture shift had been institutionalized. … Sustainability stuck!  Fortunately, my employer, Mohawk Industries, has been serious about Sustainability for years, so getting to “Zero” was a logical next step.

So, what does being Truly Sustainable look like?  Being privileged to be part of leading 16 plants at Mohawk to Zero Process Waste Landfill, here are just a few of the Best Practices in which I have participated:

  • No process waste is sent to the landfill! … ZERO is the reality!
  • No trashcans on the floor (which helps the needed culture shift compelling people to a Sustainability consciousness).
  • “Trash is Money” is embedded into the culture.
  • The passion to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is central to the culture.
  • Recycling and segregation are applied to everything from raw materials to potato chip bags to paper, on the frontlines and in the offices.
  • All materials are segregated and pure, with 5S applied extensively.
  • Nothing is on the floor.
  • Break areas are organized and spotless.
  • Self-audits verify discipline to best practices.
  • Product designers constantly engage product and process sustainability.
  • When a new “unfriendly” material appears, Tina and her Waste Stream Team launch efforts to lead the elimination of the problem.
  • Purchasing practices include Sustainability expectations.
  • Costs improve because waste is reduced!  The big savings came from reducing waste rather than from reducing landfill costs.

The only waste generated from Larman’s entire factory are such things as apple cores, banana peels, and food containers, amounting to less than one 30-gallon garbage bag per week!  Larman’s team, being truly Sustainable, motivated me at home where I now have less than 30 gallons weekly.  Still, proportionately, I have work to do.

What’s in your trash?  Do you have less than 30 gallons each week?  Are you truly Sustainable, at the plant and at home?
… Pass It On!

Today’s quote: “It’s easy to say you’re green; It’s something else being truly Sustainable.”

"It's not easy being Green!"

“It’s not easy being Green!”



Posted in Sustainability | 2 Comments

Subscribe to receive new blogposts via e-mail


Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Linkedin