Ken Laffer, MAS, is no stranger to new endeavors. He started Westbury, New York-based distributor Motivators, Inc. (UPIC: MOTIV8RS) in 1979 after a successful career as an apparel manufacturer. Soon he became involved in PPAI, even serving on the board of directors. In fact, it was Laffer’s class that voted to change the name from Specialty Advertising Association (SAA) to PPAI.
In the mid-’90s, Laffer launched an online component to his business, and Motivators.com became a full-service, 24/7 shop for product purchases.
Four years ago, Laffer started on another journey: turning Motivators into a socially responsible corporation. The company pledges to plant a tree for every eco-friendly product order it receives through its partnership with American Forests. Plus, it donates money to help offset its own carbon emissions through Carbonfund.org.
PPB checked in with Laffer to find out where this green-thinking came from and where it’s headed.
PPB When and why did you decide that, as a business, you were going to make “green” concerns a priority?
Laffer Motivators first launched its Plant-A-Tree campaign in March 2008. Although initially it was meant to last for just one month, in January 2009 we learned about global warming. It became apparent that we needed to expand the program indefinitely.
PPB How did you implement green initiatives into the company? How do you recommend others do it?
Laffer The best way to implement green initiatives into the company is to show employees just how easy it is to go green. Motivators makes it especially simple. For example, little things such as providing separate bins for trash and recycling make a big difference. Recycling bottles, paper and unwanted merchandise are just a few of the ways we “think green.” Our company is moving forward with its goal to go paperless in 2013.
A few years ago, we discontinued our use of plastic and paper cups in the office by supplying our employees with reusable mugs. We make every attempt to conserve energy. We participate as a company in many national events that support the go-green effort.
Motivator’s promotional consultants are encouraged to push environmentally friendly products whenever possible. The idea is to give people—staff members and customers included—the option of being eco-friendly and thinking about sustainable use. In the end, that will help them make the right decision on their own.
PPB How has it helped your business?
Laffer Many customers express that they choose to do business with Motivators solely because of its dedication to the environment. When you share a bond like that with a customer, it creates a personal connection that’s very valuable.
PPB Are you eco-friendly in other aspects of your life?
Laffer I try to be as much as I can. I no longer receive the newspaper and other paper subscriptions; instead, I read the digital version on my iPad. My wife and I recycle at home, and we try to reuse things as much as possible, (which isn’t too hard since we have promotional water bottles and mugs in our house).