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(March 2010) posted on Mon Mar 15, 2010

Five shops report that ‘going green’ continues to have both challenges and rewards.

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By J.P. Pieratt

“We are still at a break-even point,” Perez says. “There’s a cost to going green. We produce so much waste in our products that we incur cost to haul this stuff away and dispose of it properly. Overall, though, it’s definitely a benefit. And, it’s the right thing to do.”

And, Perez says, while there hasn’t been a flood of new clients as a result of its green initiatives, these certainly have not hurt business. “It has helped us in being considered [for jobs],” Perez says, “but, for us, it still hasn’t caught on as quickly as I thought, as far as clients requesting eco-friendly products. I was really expecting ‘green’ to sweep the nation, but it hasn’t as of yet.”

Similarly, Rad is seeing an uptick in requests for information on her company’s green products, but few are purchasing them. For instance, Rad has been trying to get her foot in the door at company in Los Angeles that has a large need for wide-format printing. “When we shared with them that we had the ability to print on a biodegradable material, they were interested in having us bid on the project,” Rad says. “We bid on their project and it was over their budget by about $4000—obviously because it costs a little bit more for the biodegradable product—but that’s still feasible enough for a big brand to make the right choice. But they went back to the regular vinyl. So, yes, companies are requesting it, but few are buying it.”

Neither Resource Grand nor Modernistic claim to have seen a huge jump in customers—or profits—simply because of their sustainability initiatives.
“I have yet to hear that someone has signed on to use us simply because of our initiatives or from switching our light bulbs,” Strenke says. “I haven’t heard of any companies or groups sourcing from someone just because of their sustainability programs.”

“We’re still in growth mode, so it’s hard for me to attach one new client because we bought a green substrate,” Graham says. “And, if you think about it, pretty much everybody has the same resources, so it’s hard to say we were the only one that brought a green initiative to customer A, and therefore we won the business.” Graham says he can’t put a dollar volume on any growth as a result of his shop’s sustainability efforts.