‘Green’ policies, healthy employees good for business, FCSI conference panelists advise

‘Green’ policies, healthy employees good for business, FCSI conference panelists advise

ATLANTA —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

Given growing interest from consumers, savvy operators are taking such environmentally friendly steps as embracing energy-efficient equipment and implementing sustainable business practices that take employee well-being, as well as that of the ecosystem, into account, participants said during the “Green Hot Trends” panel. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

“We are seeing consumers vote with their dollars,” said Dean Landeche, vice president of marketing for equipment specialist Enodis. “The veto vote will more and more often come into play. People will say, ‘I don’t want to go there because they are not environmentally friendly.’” —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

Rebecca Duff, project manager of ICF International, said energy and water costs are greatly impacting the cost of operations, and efforts to reduce consumption can have a substantial impact on profits. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

Panelist Richard Hynes, director of consultant services with the Hobart/Traulsen Corp., said the goals of sustainability are not always in sync with business concerns. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

“But given the choices we all have, it is now economical to go green,” he said. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

Consider high-efficiency products and total cost of ownership when making purchases, Duff counseled FCSI conferencegoers, and “promote [your] environmental commitment as an additional benefit [to consumers] of choosing your goods or services.” —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

She said there seems to be a misconception that high performance is sacrificed for high efficiency, and she encouraged operators to better understand how much energy and water are used in their kitchens daily. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

Tom Mears, FCSI’s 2007 Trendsetter Award recipient, was also a panelist. He is chief executive officer of The Holland Inc. of Vancouver, Wash., parent of the 39-unit Burgerville chain. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

Mears received the FCSI award for his dedication and promotion of alternative, sustainable business practices. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

For instance, Burgerville [3] pays extra for its electricity to subsidize the generation of energy through wind power, it has its fryer oil recycled into biodiesel fuel, and it is also rolling out a pilot program for composting and recycling. Mears said he was surprised by the award, but believes that The Holland should be known as a leading crusader for the environment and for “putting people first.” —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

The philosophy espoused by Mears is exemplified by his company’s health plan. When management learned through an employee survey that the No. 1 concern of workers was affordable health coverage, the company knew offering such a benefit to employees made sense, he said. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

A decision in January 2006 to pay 90 percent or more of the health insurance premiums for employees of its Burgerville restaurants returned benefits to the company as well as those workers. Within a year of spending $1.4 million to cover the premiums, The Holland Inc. recovered the outlay through cost savings from better employee retention and performance, officials said. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

“When it comes to each of our sustainable initiatives, it means [something to] our employees and our guests,” he said, adding that The Holland has maintained a commitment to fresh, local and sustainable offerings since the company was founded in 1922. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

Mears believes that all companies have a responsibility to adopt practices that are good for the environment and the community. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.

“A commitment to healthy and thriving communities ensures a sustainable supply chain and a strong regional economy, which in turn supports a thriving business,” he said. —The time is right for restaurant operators to try on a little green, according to panelists who spoke during the recent Foodservice Consultants Society International’s annual North American Conference here.