Business Stories

WNYSBR highlights member sustainability “stories”. The stories give a glimpse on the how a business began its journey to enact its sustainability plan and what are some of the business’ current accomplishments. This month we are posting an excerpt from Harmac Medical Products’ story, which was published by the Buffalo News and written b


At Bailey Green, an oasis emerges in neighborhood around Harmac Medical Products

harmac-medical-productsPleas Starks Jr. walks a block and half to his job every workday, passing vacant lots and a boarded-up building amid the homes still standing in his East Side neighborhood.

When Starks arrives at Harmac Medical Products, he works in a safe, clean factory on a stretch of Bailey Avenue the company has nicely landscaped – and where the owner pays attention to his employees.

Owners of the second-generation manufacturer, which has stayed put in the city and employs local residents, now have decided to invest in the neighborhood as well.

The company has become the catalyst for a partnership pledging to bring new houses and apartments, a community garden, soccer pitches, greenhouses and a cafe to a neglected seven-block area between Bailey and Leslie Street, reaching between Genesee and Scajaquada streets.

“Fundamentally, it’s the right thing to do,” said John Somers, Harmac’s owner.

One of every five of the company’s 380 employees lives in the company’s 14211 ZIP code.

“I think we have a responsibility to change the lives of the people in the community in which we live,” Somers said.

So Harmac, a maker of medical devices, has teamed with Habitat for Humanity Buffalo, the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning, Algonquin Sports for Kids and Urban Fruits & Veggies among others on a multi-faceted project called Bailey Green.

If it all comes together, Starks’ walk to work from his Wende Street home will remind him of an earlier time.

“It was a beautiful neighborhood back then,” Starks said. “There wasn’t a vacant lot on this whole street.”

Read the entire article

GM Tonawanda Engine-Sustainability Initiatives

GM powertrain tnTonawanda Engine remains one of Western New York’s historical industrial landmarks. In June 1937, natural resources like the Niagara River and long-term growth potential were selling points prompting GM to choose Tonawanda for its next motor and axle plant. GM selected a 156-acre parcel bordering the Niagara River, and constructed a 774,000 sq. ft. building capable of producing 900,000 motors and front and rear axles annually.

Fast forward 75-plus years. The site has grown to a 190 acre, 3.1 million sq. ft. engine manufacturing facility, supplying parts not only to GM plants in North America, but a global market including China. Since its start of production in 1938, it has produced over 70 million engines, not counting its World War II and Korean War efforts in building Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines. Today the plant builds over 2,500 engines per day, including the engines that power two of J.D. Power’s top-rated vehicles, the Cadillac ATS and the Chevrolet Corvette.

As a global manufacturer producing over 9.5 million vehicles in 24 countries, GM has engrained a deep-rooted interest in long-term sustainability for all of its manufacturing and administrative locations worldwide. In 2010, GM commonized its sustainability efforts and began deployment of the company’s 2020 sustainability commitments globally.

Since Tonawanda Engine formalized environmental efforts in 1999 by attaining and achieving ISO14001 certification, it has built on those beginnings and supplemented its local strategy to incorporate GM’s global sustainability commitments into a wide variety of site initiatives. Tonawanda incorporates its environmental goals into its annual and long term plans, from staff-level sitewide targets through employee-level work instructions.

The team also enhanced its involvement with a variety of local educational institutions and agencies to raise environmental awareness and engagement in the community.

During Tonawanda’s 15-plus year environmental journey, its environmental achievements are diverse and expansive, including;

• Being the 2nd GM plant worldwide to achieve landfill-free status
• Meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR® Challenge for Industry by reducing energy usage by over 30 percent
• Engaging the community through GM GREEN (Global Rivers Environmental Education Network), including partnering with local schools for water quality sampling and study trips on Lake Erie
• Rehabilitating GM’s foundry area as a wildlife habitat area with participation from local schools to help reforest with seedlings and nurture native species of vegetation, attracting migratory birds and other wildlife
• Hosting annual recycling drives and programs both inside the facility and with the local community. To date, these efforts have recycled over 650 tons of paper, 12,500 tons of metal, 23.4 tons of oil and 30 tons of household electronics and fluorescent lamps, and through its waste to energy initiative has saved enough to heat over 24,000 homes for a year.
• Installing electric vehicle charging stations in employee parking lots
• Partnering with utility suppliers and energy conservation agencies to develop and implement projects focused at reducing annual operating dependencies on gas, water and electricity
• Developing and implementing bio-retention areas that eliminated one site outfall to international waters and reduced flow of a second outfall by 50 percent

Keeping focused on the future, Tonawanda continues to look for economic opportunities to implement the use of renewable energy sources, while investigating how to further improve upon its recycling efforts, carbon footprint, and energy and water consumption.

McCullagh Coffee

mccallagh logo

In February of 2006 the McCullagh Coffee Board of Directors voted to achieve “best in class sustainability” in time for the 150th anniversary of the Company, a milestone that will be achieved in 2017. While significant progress has already been made, McCullagh recognizes that sustainability, like quality, is a journey, not an end. CEO Warren Emblidge Jr. was a driving force in an early attempt to create a WNY sustainability network, and McCullagh is excited that the group has not only been revived but has significantly expanded under the leadership of UB and Erie County.

McCullagh also retired it’s fuel gulping delivery trucks with 5 fuel efficient Sprinter vans. The new vans have resulted in fuel savings approaching $100 K, and the savings are further enhanced by scheduling and route mapping software.

On a product development level McCullagh pioneered the first line of sustainable coffees in certified compostable “frac pacs”, with the launch of Rainforest Alliance certified Ecoverde coffees in 2009. The Ecoverde line now boasts five additional premium grade single origin coffees that are certified Fair Trade and organic.

In the summer of this year, a new line of teas will be launched featuring 100% compostable tea bags and packaging and organic teas. Ecoverde Sales and Product Manager Jeffery Oliver states “consumers want to know that the products they buy minimize environmental impacts, and are healthy for their family. Something as simple as choosing a sustainable agricultural product in environmentally responsible packaging is an easy way to make a difference”.

As a member of the WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable McCullagh is delighted to have access to training resources which are part of an ongoing member capability building program. In addition, the networking opportunities will encourage the exchange of best practices and expertise with other companies. The Pledge, which was signed by President Warren Emblidge III, is the roadmap for McCullagh’s sustainability strategy looking out to the 2017 celebrations and beyond.