I’ve been in Bentonville, Arkansas for a Wal-Mart sustainability conference.
Sustainability has become a big word and Wal-Mart has embraced it. The idea follows closely our thoughts on “lean” – except it has an environmental twist. To operate our business in the most sustainable fashion, we should use as little material as possible, operate as efficiently as possible and minimize our impact on the environment by cutting down the use of fossil fuels and limiting materials headed to the landfill.
Wal-Mart acknowledges that doing what is good for the environment is not their sole motivation. The more waste that is eliminated, the fewer miles that are traveled and the “leaner” things become, the lower the costs to them. It helps them achieve the goal of “every day low prices.”
We don’t sell much to Wal-Mart directly but we serve many customers who do. Wal-Mart as well as other retail giants like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco and Menards will continue to put pressure on their vendors to lower costs by getting “leaner.” It is a trend that will continue.
That’s why “lean” will be a constant factor as we move ahead. The customers will demand it. They won’t pay us for the things we do that are less efficient or more wasteful than our competition.
I believe we are ahead of our peers on this. This effort on “lean” can’t end. Our search to improve must be consistent, constant. It’s the winning edge.