Why going green can pay off
LYNDON Watson used to think that saving the planet was strictly the domain of hippies and environmentalists.
Then Don Watson Tranport's business manager began studying for an Executive MBA where a lecturer also happened to be a former UN lead advisor on operating businesses in a carbon neutral future.
"I'd locked horns with him a few times, to be honest, but then he gave us a key takeaway - rather than thinking you've got to do something to save the trees, and all that kind of crap, only do something if it's financial and it's going to better the business,” Lyndon said.
"And so, from that perspective it was about how can we use carbon neutrality as a point of difference and to get a comparative advantage above other people and do it in a way that it's purely in a business sense.”
Today, that light bulb moment has evolved into Lyndon espousing the same message as a QTA-backed Daimler Truck and Bus Future Leader, a select group of trailblazers hand-picked to give the industry fresh perspectives on a variety of issues.
Lyndon discovered there are three ways to become a carbon neutral, 1) Buy carbon credits and don't change a thing, 2) Change the equipment you are using, or 3) Change the culture and behaviour of the people in your business.
"At the core of the project that I created was 'how do I transition the business to a carbon neutral future while being profitable?'
"All those aspects about new equipment or driver's trainers to improve the way drivers drive the vehicles, anything that was cash flow positive, or an internal rate of return was quite positive, you'd do it anywhere.
"It's not a matter of being carbon neutral because it's going to save you money anyway. That's the roadblock I got to: What is it about being carbon neutral that's going to make you better than the next person? Anyone's going to be able to do these measures to save them money.”
After investigating the cost savings of everything from low resistance tyres to aerodynamic Airtabs from the US, Lyndon's biggest breakthrough came via the philosophies of green pioneer the late carpet king Ray Anderson.
"What he found was that the certification itself, the acknowledgement that the business was carbon neutral, was what drove the savings and the behavioural change in the business.”
To that end, Lyndon has now employed a full-time driver trainer and bought a new K200 Kenworth King Cab, with fuel-saving capabilities.
The key for any business thinking of following his lead, Lyndon says, is to never forget that you're in it to make money, not just to save the planet.
"It's still very early days. "We've got a culture in our business that I've got to massage and change.
"But done well you can transition well and make money out of it,” he said. "One of the challenges will be to continually remind those people at the coal-face - the drivers, the fork lift drivers - to keep behaving in a proactive way and not just forget about it.”