Paul Rak, the President and founder of VeriForm, knew that he could be doing things more efficiently at his plant in Cambridge, Ontario. But he had no idea how rewarding the results would be.
After all, you don’t normally associate high-precision sheet metal and plate manufacturing with sustainability. The company produces everything from railcars to parts for coast guard ships and custom mining trucks. It does this using energy-intensive heavy equipment in a large manufacturing facility.
Beginning in 2006, Paul invested $46,000 in a range of small-to-medium changes to the equipment and operation of his plant. The result? VeriForm cut its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 77% while growing its business. The company has managed to do this while doubling its building size.
And to seal VeriForm’s reputation as the greenest metal fabricator in North America, Paul buys carbon offsets for the remaining emissions, making VeriForm officially carbon neutral.
The thing that really shocked Paul was that these upgrades also resulted in annual operating and maintenance savings to the tune of $135,000 – with most of the plant upgrades paying themselves off in under 6 months. Many of these changes were rather common-sense, ranging from turning off the lights at night and reducing the temperature on the water heater to replacing inefficient machines with ones that use less energy and changing the plant's electricity-use patterns.
It has made VeriForm more competitive, earning the company savings of $1.42 million over 10 years and allowing Paul to grow his staff by 30%. These savings turned out to be a lifesaver when the U.S. rolled out tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum last year. With a number of key clients located in the U.S., VeriForm was faced with an economic shock on par with the 2008 recession.
The sustainability savings allowed the company to weather the storm intact.
Nobody knows a business better than the owner and its employees. When businesses are engaged in identifying their own pollution-cutting and cost-saving innovations, the results are going to be positive. VeriForm was able to achieve these results with the help of Green Economy Canada (previously Sustainability Co-lab), which serves as a clean innovation incubator for local business.
Companies are often wary of strengthening environmental measures and worry about potential impact on profitability and competitiveness. As VeriForm proves, going green can actually improve your company’s bottom line.