The Road from a Mosquito Control Company to a Sustainable Brandby Nayelli Gonzalez on June 7, 2012
Standing on the main stage of Wednesday’s Sustainable Brands morning session, J. Lyell Clarke III — President and CEO of Clarke, a company that provides mosquito control and aquatic products and services — captivated the room as he told the story of what moved him to take a leap of faith and transform a financially successful, decades-old, family-owned business into a sustainable brand.
Clarke, whose story had remnants of a Ray Anderson tale, explained that even though his company has consistently held more than 50 percent of the industry’s market share over the years, he sensed a “pent up desire for a greater purpose and company” from his employees — which was one reason he decided to shake things up at the company.
As the head of a company that develops products that keep mosquitoes at bay and water systems clean, Clarke saw a great opportunity to leverage his company’s products and services to do more to help make communities around the world “more livable, safe and comfortable.” On a more personal level, Clarke also noted that he wanted to “make a difference” and was inspired by reading sustainability books from the likes of Ray Anderson and Chris Laszlo. The drive for product innovation and interest in handing off a more sustainable company to the next generations of Clarkes also moved him.
While change didn’t happen overnight, Clarke is proud of how far the company has come on its sustainability journey in a few years. The company has set aggressive goals, such as reducing its waste stream by 50 percent by 2014, developed a line of organic products, and built a LEED-certified plant to manufacture its organic product line. In the process, the company has saved money, received awards, and is an employer of choice in its community.
According to Clarke, all it took was for him and his team to “open [their] hearts and let [their] passion come out, and open [their minds] and let [their] souls come out.”
Clarke (the man) is an example of the type of sustainability leader we need in our companies — and Clarke (the business) is an example of a company that is seeing the financial, social and environmental benefits of transforming into a sustainable brand.
Image Source: Clarke.com