Using sustainability to compete with the big dogs

This week I talked with Don Mayer, founder and CEO, of Small Dog Electronics. Small Dog is one of the largest Apple resellers in the United States. Small Dog is also a company that is hugely committed to sustainability, which was the topic of our conversation.

As is often the case, the push for sustainability at a company large, medium, or small, must come from the top.  Mayer and his son, with whom he started the company, believe in the simple concept that the effect that they have on their environment, community, customers and employees is just as important as maintaining their profitability. Easy to say. They are really doing it.

Employees consistently volunteer, Small Dog has a charitable giving program, e-waste recycling events, and the brick and mortar stores all strive for net zero emissions. And employee retention is strong. As Mayer mentions, employees could work at other companies that might be in the position to pay them more but they choose not to because of Small Dog’s commitment to being a different kind of business. I hear this all the time on my show.

In Mayer’s words, “When you incorporate your business, you are creating a body in society. And that body, the company, has a greater footprint than any individual — we create jobs, people are dependent upon us for their livelihood, we have a waste stream, we import products, we export products so with all of that greater footprint comes a greater responsibility to your community — that is the basis of social responsibility. And it is how we measure our success.”

Mayer may make it seem enough to integrate sustainability at a small company of 70 people, though that’s far from the case. As with bigger companies with far more resources, it takes a combination of passion and persistence.

For them, it’s not just a matter of doing the right thing. It’s a matter of competing with the big dogs.