MDEQ Sustainable Manufacturing Seminar a Success!

On Tuesday, September 22, the MDEQ hosted an installment of their Sustainable Manufacturing Seminar Series at Laurel Manor in Livonia. The event was billed as “Michigan Made: Designing to Sustain the Economy, Environment and Society.” What’s Next participated as a vendor at the event, and by the end of the day, we had made a number of new friends in the business.

The event featured a number of very good speakers from around the state, including: Diane Bunse, of Herman Miller; Walker Modic, of Bell’s Brewery; David Rinard of Steelcase; Bruce Uhlman, of BASF; Bill Stough, of Sustainable Research Group; Jennifer Bruen of MSU Center for Regional Economic Development; Betsy Hernandez, of Steelcase and Autum Sands of BarFly ventures.

While the impact being made by the large, multinational corporations cannot be denied, it’s what’s being done at the margins, by the small to medium sized companies and start-up entrepreneurs, I find most intriguing. Unfettered by existing business models and strategies, these small mavericks are charting the course for the way business will be done in the future.

Bill Stough’s presentation on the project he did with Terry Link, of Starting Now, LLC, entitled, “Corporate, social opportunities with Triple Bottom Line”, touched upon what’s going-on in the triple bottom line (TBL) start-up world across the state. The work, which was funded by the Michigan State University Center for Regional Economic Innovation, was an investigation of what sorts of characteristics and practices differentiate Michigan based TBL enterprises.

Chief among the things Bill and Terry discovered is that Michigan TBL business leaders are passionate about creating environmental and social justice through their business practices. These leaders are not pursuing TBL to green wash or simply make a buck: they do it because it resonates with them — deep inside. Having the capacity to see the world a bit differently than those who simply enter business with a single bottom line mentality, is what sets these TBL business leaders apart.

What’s Next had a great day at the event! Our table was set-up with displays of our project work and our new “Meeting You There” model for TBL strategy development. This six step, iterative model is built upon insights gleaned from many years of work within the quality systems world, as well as our experiences working to advance TBL strategies within the collision repair industry. Small to medium sized manufacturers will find this model particularly helpful in taking sustainability for an abstraction, to a practicable set of actions.

Thanks to all of our friends at the MDEQ for a great day!