Trailblazing can be lonely work, but usually there's the pleasure that comes from watching others use the path you created. So far, however, Hayward Lumber hasn't seen many dealers follow its pioneering work in green products and ecologically sustainable management practices. The interactive lighting lab developed last year by Curtis Lumber in Ballston Spa, N.Y., (see page 82) is a rare example of green practices pursued by a pro dealer outside the Pacific Coast.
But Hayward doesn't appear discouraged by this lack of volunteers. In fact, rather than wait for others to get involved, it's busy blazing a route even deeper into this new territory.
“There still are not any dealers that are calling my phone who are curious about what we are doing,” says Hayward president, CEO, and chief sustainability officer Bill Hayward. “But I do get that interest out in the field and at trade shows. In the 10 years since I started on the sustainability path, [the prevailing attitude] has gone from ‘What is this?' to occasionally encountering two or three serious people who want to explore and discuss. The other thing I still get a lot in the industry is ‘You're pushing us all to have to do this,' and that's fine with me.”
Indeed, initiatives under way at Hayward's seven California locations—including a pledge to be totally solar powered by 2014, a hybrid vehicle purchasing policy, and an EnviroSmart green product branding program—will be pushing the industry envelope on sustainability into the foreseeable future. “I think what people need to understand is that sustainability is not just a collection of programs,” says Hayward marketing director Suzanne Scattini, who spearheaded the development and launch of EnviroSmart. “There's no start or end date. It is a philosophy that you have to approach and embrace every day—it is really a way of life.”
Rate of Return
According to Hayward, Enviro-Smart is a way for the company to continue fulfilling the traditional pro dealer service role of being a product specialist and adviser to its contractor customers, in this case for those searching for environmentally sensitive alternative building products. “Obviously [the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)] is a clear standard for certified lumber, but what if you are looking for a paint standard, a fastener standard, a floor covering standard?” Hayward asks. “We have the capacity to do a vigorous evaluation and look at what products have environmental value, and the EnviroSmart label is a clear way to communicate that successfully to our customer walking through the store.”
Currently, the EnviroSmart program applies to some 53 products by various manufacturers across seven product categories: sheet goods, siding, insulation, finishes, adhesives and caulk, building materials, and industrial supplies. FSC lumber leads the pack, and has gained wide enough acceptance in the Santa Barbara market that the yard there offers only FSC-certified lumber for dimension 2x8s, 2x10s, and 2x12s.
Results of the branding effort have been substantial. According to Scattini, sales of EnviroSmart products jumped 40% in 2005, the first full year of the program, to $1.4 million. And true to Scattini's way-of-life mantra, EnviroSmart continues to evolve. In July the company developed a consumer-targeted marketing brochure, and an electronic catalog of EnviroSmart products on CD-Rom is in development.
—Bill Hayward, president, CEO, and chief sustainability officer, Hayward Lumber
Company director of purchasing Steve Hardy has developed a vehicle purchasing policy that maintains the dealer will purchase only hybrid vehicles for manager-level company transportation. The company currently has four Ford Eclipses, a Honda, a Toyota, and an all-electric van. Additionally, the company's Paso Robles yard has migrated to solar power for 100% of the location's energy needs. Installation of the 17-kilowatt rooftop solar array was completed this summer and is estimated to recoup $3,245 per year in electricity costs for the pro dealer. A larger-scale solar array has powered the company's Santa Maria, Calif., truss facility since 2003, and currently all Hayward energy requirements are either solar- or wind-powered. (The company purchases wind credits on the open market to pay energy costs.)
By 2014, all company locations will have transitioned to solar power, according to Hayward. “It's about a $100,000 per year investment, but it has a seven-year internal rate of return in terms of after-tax net payback, so at the end of the day, we have a significantly lower cost of operations because we've got solar power.” That cost saving is the type of argument that Hayward hopes will begin to sway more and more businesses—pro dealer and otherwise—over to the sustainability model.
“What we sell is what we think we can make money on,” he says. “If all of this convinces people that you can make money by marketing sustainability and selling green building products, great, because that's what you can do.”