Community college helps company become ‘greener’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

RCCC News Service
CONCORD ó Shogren Inc. in Concord had already taken a number of steps to reduce waste, recycle some materials and be a better steward of the environment. However, when one of Shogren’s top customers requested a sustainability report showing how Shogren incorporated “green” practices, from product design through distribution, the company knew it needed outside expertise.
That’s when Mickey Smith, Shogren’s senior vice president of operations, contacted Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and spoke with DeAnn Basden, the director of corporate and professional development. After talking with Smith and Shogren President Mark Zerona, Basden recognized a growing challenge for many companies: pressure from their business partners to “go green.”
“Many large companies today expect their suppliers and other partners to adopt green, or environmentally friendly, processes and provide periodic reports on their sustainability success,” Basden explained. “With contract renewals hanging in the balance, companies often need help identifying workable green practices, developing a sustainability plan and training employees to carry out the new practices.
“In these situations, the community college, state agencies and outside consultants can help companies develop realistic processes and goals,” Basden said.
Basden quickly assembled a team of experts, including representatives from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the N.C. Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance, and a local consultant who is a retired recycling program manager of a major utility company.
This group met with the Shogren leadership team in early August to explore additional ways the company could build its green program.
“We had an open discussion and collaborated on a number of ideas to help us become a more sustainable company,” Zerona said. “Not only was it a good discussion on sustainability, but it appears we also can save some money in the process. We are very appreciative of the support we received from RCCC.”
The areas of discussion included profitable cardboard and aluminum recycling, water conservation and retention, solar energy, reducing paper use and environmentally friendly landscaping improvements. As one member of the group summed up the discussion, “It’s all about people, profit and planet ń building a sustainable organization.”
RCCC’s work with Shogren now is helping the college develop internal expertise to help other companies in Cabarrus and Rowan counties.
“This experience is helping RCCC and our corporate and professional development team establish a new area of programming for local businesses,” Basden said. “RCCC is now capable of helping businesses learn how they can go green.
“Implementing green practices are becoming the norm for companies, as well as an expectation from their business partners, communities and customers. The community college is here to help companies adapt to these changes and develop new processes that will benefit the environment and their bottom line.”
Shogren Inc. distributes children’s and ladies’ leg-wear products sourced from international and domestic companies. Shogren has taken proactive steps and is committed to becoming a sustainable company.
RCCC’s Corporate and Professional Development Office, part of the college’s Continuing Education Department, provides on-site quality and process improvement training for large manufacturing operations and small business environments. Offerings include Lean, Six Sigma Green Belt and Black Belt, ISO, project management and more. The customized training is client driven. Course content, schedule, methodology and location are based on the client’s needs and preferences. Call Basden for more information at 704-216-3530.