Clean Windows Give a Bright Outlook for any Business

One of the great mysteries of life, is how difficult it can be to find a reliable window cleaner to keep your windows sparkling. You would think that as windows will always require cleaning, it is one of those type of jobs that cannot be replaced by technology. However upon conducting a little research, we found countless stories of people crying out for a good reliable window cleaning company. For whatever reason, this relatively simple task seems to be nigh on impossible, and so we decided to try and assist with a simple guide on how to find a reliable window cleaner. For the purposes of this article, we decided to focus specifically on Dayton Ohio, but these tips should apply worldwide.

Nothing Beats A Recommendation

A window cleaner atop a large office building. Cleaning windows is difficult for large buildings, and its best to outsource to a professional company.

Recommendations, especially from people you know and trust are like gold dust. If a neighbour of a friend extolls the virtue of a window cleaner, then that is an excellent place to start. Someone who has personal experience of the service and provider, and is also a friend of yours, is unlikely to risk their friendship recommending a poor company.

Pricing Structure

Do some research amongst the various companies, even if you are not interested in them. Make sure you know what the price should be, so that you are in a stronger position when making your final position. The more information you have prior to employing a company the better your bargaining power.

Get Each Quote In Writing

 Never ever accept the trusty handshake, and verbal price. Without a written agreement, there is always the potential for broken promises and price hikes. But once the agreement is written down and you have a copy of it, that prevents either party from moving the goalposts.

Agreed Intervals And Times

 When negotiating a window cleaning contract, it is very important to not focus solely on price. You need to know how regularly the windows will be cleaned, if there is a set day and time, and also the procedure to follow, should you want to either cancel the contract, or cancel the cleaning for a short period of time. The time to negotiate all of these seemingly small but important details is before signing any contract as once you have signed on the dotted line, changing things becomes a lot more difficult.

We decided to test out our rules and try to research Window Cleaning In Dayton Ohio, and for our purposes the clear winner was Pride Master inc. They answered all of our questions, turned up to give us a quote on time, and were very easy to work with. We checked out their references, and documentation thoroughly, and their equipment and vans looks immaculate. You may not feel that employing a good window cleaning company is that important a decision, but we can tell you from personal experience that it is more than worth taking the time and effort to employ the right company.

20/20 by 2010

On Wednesday, June 13, our Global Warming task team (called the Carbon 42 task team) rolled out the 7th Gen climate change program 20/20 by 2010 to the employees of 7th Gen and to two of our manufacturing partners. We as a company (and we as humans occupying present earth) are aiming to reduce our overall carbon footprint by 20% while increasing our use of renewables by 20% all by the year 2010.

The rollout included a moment of theatrical indulgence (above) to inspire people to be more aware of their carbon impact both at home and in the everyday operations of 7th Gen. The theme of the play was to shift thinking away from offsetting carbon impacts to designing new reduction strategies to meet our goals of 20/20 by 2010.

To get people at this new level of awareness, the Carbon 42 task team developed one of the most sophisticated (and evolving) carbon calculators (for internal use only, now) that will not only tell people their carbon footprint, but will also store their data so that as time ticks on they can measure their activity. And even more…we are encouraging employees to design their lives to be carbon-less and 7th Gen will extend our present energy incentive program to help fund these projects. More to come…

C-42 Team

Driving to a Better Brand of Capitalism

I’d never really considered buying a Porsche, but check out the point of view ofWendelin Wiedeking, who is Porsche’s CEO not to mention a potato farmer and a shoemaker! Here’s an excerpt from a Financial Times interview published a few days ago:

“We should not always look at getting the maximum return but we must look at people and make sure they are taking part. When you see companies like Mannesmann that were broken up and sold again and then broken up and sold again then that causes me anguish,” he says in an interview at Porsche’s headquarters on the outskirts of Stuttgart.His evident fondness for his workers is reflected in other aspects of his business philosophy. “Our business model is only financed by customers. So we have to pay a lot of attention to our customers. When the customer is happy then the worker is happy too and so are the suppliers. Then there should be enough money left for the shareholder. But that is the order of importance,” he says.

All of this is part of Mr Wiedeking’s insistence that he is not a slave to the capital markets: “The question is: how can society allow capital to make all the rules? I have never understood shareholder value as it leaves so many things out. Shareholders give their money just once, whereas the employees work every day.”

An Apology

You have to love Consumer Reports. Their vigilance when it comes to looking out for consumers is as boundless as their enthusiasm for the job, and, as I learned late last week, no detail gets overlooked along the way.

I wish I could say the same for things here. But details occasionally do get overlooked on our end. Stuff happens. I’m philosophical about it. As a company that’s gone from struggling to explosive growth in the space of just a few years (a corporate Cinderella story if there ever was one), I know all too well how many days we spend just trying to hang on as this roller coaster picks up steam. We do the best we can, so I can’t complain. But Consumer Reports can. And last week they did and rightfully so.

At issue was the label for our Automatic Dishwasher Gel. One of the words that appears on the front is “biodegradable,” an implicit message that our formula breaks down in the environment. And all of it will except for one polymer-based cleaning agent that it uses. (There’s another cleaning agent in the formula that does biodegrade, and both are needed for the product to work.) In accordance with our belief in full ingredients disclosure, this important information appears on the back of every bottle. Still, without an asterisk or some kind of immediate notation on the front, “biodegradable” really shouldn’t be there. But it is. And Consumer Reports quite correctly wondered why. Here’s the story:

In the early days of our history, we relied on our manufacturing partners to create formulas which we then purchased the rights to. In the case of our dishwasher gel, our partner said the formula was biodegradable. So we said so, too.

In 2004, while replacing all the formulas created by our manufacturing partners with our own, we found out this wasn’t true. Our chemist told our marketing people (who design our labels), and they told our operations people (who have the labels printed), and new labels should have appeared at the factory, but they didn’t.

We were growing rapidly at the time, and as other issues emerged, the revised label on the dishwasher gel kept getting shoved aside by more immediate concerns until it got lost. Indeed, the staff who are now in charge of our labeling weren’t even here in 2004, and in fact had no idea there was an issue.

The truth is, we simply forgot about it. Believe me when I tell you that I know just how lame that sounds. “We forgot” is a pretty lousy explanation under the best of circumstances, which these aren’t because we don’t even have an annual label review process to catch these kinds of oversights. We’ve been shaking our heads about it all week but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s the truth, and as a transparent company that’s what we tell. So no excuses. No BS cover story in corporate doublespeak. We forgot. As my kids say… our bad.

I’ve said before that this kind of thing goes with our territory. Things happen when you’re blazing a new trail, and not all of them are good. For example, a total lack of regulation of the term “biodegradable” means standards are voluntary and the word doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. That’s why there was confusion in the first place and why we adopted the more rigorous definition of “biodegradable” used in Europe, which is what led us to blow the whistle on ourselves in 2004 when we reviewed all our then current ingredients as part of our reformulation initiative.

The road less taken is often a rough one, and we got tripped up as we made our way, this time mostly by ourselves. It wasn’t the first such occasion, and I’m fairly certain it won’t be the last. The good news is that now we’re a bigger, more solid company so our rediscovery of this issue is something we can deal with swiftly and surely.

Now we’re doing what we meant to do two years ago. We’re taking the word “biodegradable” off the front labels on our existing formula. It’ll be a few weeks before these new labels are printed and a bit more before they reach retailers, but the process has started. We’re also launching a new partnership with MBDC, the cradle-to-cradle environmental design firm founded by architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart. Together, with the guidance of our outside legal counsel, we’re conducting a complete review of all our products to make absolutely sure we’re doing everything in the healthiest and most sustainable way possible.

And that’s the part of this story where I think the rubber meets the road. We screwed up. But there isn’t a single person here who isn’t completely committed to doing whatever it takes to get it right. In the meantime, to all our friends and customers and on behalf of everyone here, I’d just like to say we’re sorry. You have our sincere apologies.

In the end, ours was an honest mistake, and since the ultimate safety of our product from both human health and environmental standpoints was never in question and our back label made full disclosure, no material harm was done. Nonetheless Consumer Reports is right: We were wrong. For pointing that out, keeping us honest, and holding us to the same standards to which we hold ourselves, they’ve got our thanks. Theirs was a wonderful reminder that we can’t and shouldn’t rest on our laurels. That we have to stay sharp even as we keep moving forward. That you have to do both or you’re really not doing anything at all. Staying true means staying vigilant. And that’s the kind of company we intend to be.

7th Generation’s 2006 Corporate Responsibility Report is Out

Our 2006 Corporate Responsibility Report was released yesterday at 9:30am. It is a web-based report ready for your perusing and feedback. If you have some time please read it and please send us feedback. We get better and better at being responsible when we hear your voice and thoughts on how we can upgrade who we are and how we do business. In advance, thank yoU!!! WR

At The Wal-Mart CEO Sustainability Summit

Imagine 400 CEOs representing Wal-Mart’s largest vendors all sitting in one room pondering the future of sustainability. Aside from representing trillions of dollars in market value, this group could change the course of history. As I observed from the third row of this gathering on Wednesday at Wal-Mart’s headquarters, I was both excited and scared. Excited that Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott had convened this gathering to throw more weight behind the need to generate innovative “green” products, yet scared that the challenge on the table was too narrowly focused.

After SC Johnson withdrew “Scotchguard” from the market because it was determined to contain toxic chemicals, Wal-Mart helped the manufacturer introduce a safer reformulated product and placed it on thousands of end caps, those special high-visibility displays at the ends of store aisles. When Unilever was concerned that consumers wouldn’t understand its triple concentrated All brand laundry detergent, Wal-Mart helped ensure that their customers couldn’t miss the new product by generously giving it more shelf space than it might have deserved. From compact fluorescent light bulbs to organic pet bedding, Wal-Mart is committed to supporting sustainable consumer products. This is a good, if not a great thing.

Today, Lee Scott announced that the company wanted real innovation in sustainable consumer products, not just incremental improvement. Suddenly, the R&D budgets of consumer products companies got a lot greener.

Scott also proclaimed at various points in his talk that, “Sustainability is one of the most interesting things we’ve done. Sustainability is here to stay. We lay no claim to being a green company. We’re just graduating from kindergarten in this journey.” All things I was happy to hear.

I was also thrilled to see that in addition to products proclaiming to be “sustainable,” their vendor fair highlighted an incredibly wide range of non-governmental organizations and consulting firms offering to help corporate America figure out what to do next. Many of these organizations wouldn’t have gotten their phone calls returned three years ago. From the World Wildlife Fund to McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, the Rocky Mountain Institute, Trans Fair, Blue-Green, World Resources Institute, Act Now, the EPA, and numerous others, it was quite amazing to see Wal-Mart highlight so much of our nation’s sustainability brain trust.

But I’m not so sure Scott is right when he proclaims, “We save people money so they can live better,” and that “the (Wall Street Journal) is wrong, our business model is healthy.” Or that their new tag line, “Save money, live better,” is credible.

What scares me about this fever pitch of going green is the lack of systemic understanding of the problems we face, and the risk that some of these well-intentioned solutions are likely to make things worse. While compact fluorescents are great, too many of them are powered by coal plants. If you already own 50 t-shirts, buying another made from organic cotton will not make the world a better place. Purchasing CDs in recycled paperboard boxes will still create more CO2 emissions than downloading your music from the web. Less wasteful packaging of processed foods will not help solve the huge nutrition problem our nation faces. While I’m glad that some of the toxic chemicals are out of Scotchguard, why were they there in the first place? Do we really need to apply synthetic treatments to the fabrics in our homes if they’re going to pollute our bodies?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for incremental progress, I just don’t want to see us confuse “less bad” with “good.” Or worse, “less bad” with “sustainability, which it too often is.” (Nine times out of ten, when I hear the word sustainability used, it is abused if not totally bastardized.)

So what’s my conclusion? It’s difficult to say. I’m a cheerleader for Wal-Mart’s leadership and progress. But as Lee Scott said, this was a graduation ceremony from kindergarten, and the toughest challenges lie ahead. I hope everyone realizes that the best solutions aren’t likely to produce short-term profits. And I hope everyone plans to attend first grade.

Vermont Carbon Diet Design session

Spent the last day in a half, working with a group of Vermont NGO’s and companies to think about how Vermont companies can play an active role with the NGO and government community to help educate people to change their behavior and reduce their CO2 footprint. David Gershon who wrote Low Carbon Diet: A 30 Day Program to Lose 5000 Pounds and Joe Laur who we work with in the SoL community, led the design session. It was an interesting day with a number of questions on how to engage Vermont in a way that builds synergy with all groups focused on the Global Warming question. We walked away with idea of roadtesting the idea of putting 7th Generation on a Low Carbon Diet. The process would look like this:

The first step is making a commitment to reduce your company’s carbon footprint, and enrolling your employees in a program to reduce theirs. The steps for this first, internal, phase of the program are as follows:

1. Identify your organization’s carbon footprint
2. Commit to a 20% organizational footprint reduction by 2010
3. Host a “Global Warming Café” workshop in-house to introduce the Low Carbon Diet and Cool Community Campaign to employees
4. At the end of each workshop, employees are invited to make a personal carbon-reduction pledge and to form “EcoTeams”— groups of approximately eight people/households who will serve as a peer support framework for completing the carbon-reduction program. (Like a Weight Watchers support group for one’s carbon diet, EcoTeams follow a series of four structured meetings guiding participants through the diet’s carefully crafted 22-step recipe for successful carbon reduction).
5. Utilize employee carbon reduction learning to assist with organization’s carbon reduction strategy.

We are thinking about roadtesting this process in the fall. More to come… WR

We love Toyota. But Should We?

I’m disappointed. I’d heard rumor of this before, but it was sad to read Thomas Friedman’s account of how Toyota is lobbying against tougher auto mileage standards in the Senate version of the draft energy bill. You heard me right: Toyota is sitting right beside GM, Ford and Chrysler arguing that it can’t achieve a corporate average fuel economy standard of 35 m.p.g. by 2020.

Friedman speculates on the reason.

“Why would Toyota, which has used the Prius to brand itself as the greenest car company, pull such a stunt? Is it because Toyota wants to slow down innovation in Detroit on more energy efficient vehicles, which Toyota already dominates, while also keeping mileage room to build giant pickup trucks, like the Toyota Tundra, at the gas-guzzler end of the U.S. market?”

The article goes on to note

“Representative Edward Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said to me that Toyota could meet a 35 m.p.g. standard in Japan and Europe today, “but here — even though they bombard Americans with ads about how energy efficient Toyota is — they are fighting the 35 m.p.g. standard for 2020.”

Let’s tell Toyota that if they don’t knock it off we’ll all be buying Hondas.

Life is short under the best of circumstances

Music drifts into our back yard from the benefit party almost one mile away and it’s only 5:00 pm. This is the land of benefits; almost every Democratic candidate for President comes to the Hampton’s in the summer to raise money. Last night we attended two parties: one we were invited, the other we were not.

At the first we met Lloyd C. Blankfein, recently elected Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs. We (my wife Sheila and I) commented on the wonderful research Goldman had done detailing how the performance of responsible companies exceeded those that were less responsible. Mr. Blankfein had not read the research, but noted that there were over 1,000 people at Goldman who write such reports. We also learned that he had two children at Harvard. Telling him what I did (he didn’t ask) he said he was unfamiliar with Seventh Generation since he never went shopping in a supermarket.

At the second party, with several hundred in attendance, I noticed Senator Corzine of New Jersey dancing up a storm – I was amazed given his recent accident. The house that housed the party was huge, I’m guessing it is worth over $40 million. This – the Hampton’s – is a place that attracts a huge number of people with lots of money. There are convertible Bentleys and more Mercedes that you could ever keep track of…

This morning my son came running out of the house. He told me that a young woman, only 20 years old, who had been his boss all summer at the store where he worked was killed last night in a car accident. She drove her car into a tree. He sobbed for a long time in my arms. He couldn’t understand how someone so young could die. I was glad to be home to help comfort him.

Life is short under the best of circumstances, and much, much shorter under the worst. My son went to work today on his day off to fill in for her. He didn’t know what else to do. Jeffrey