Why Ross Video is betting on environmental sustainability

David Ross
Davis Ross says companies that take the environment serious will have an advantage in the coming years as other companies scramble to catch up.

After watching and reading about the effects of climate change, Ross Video CEO David Ross decided his company was in a position to make a difference. 

The company looked at its operations and found several ways to improve its environmental footprint, even though the investment will take many years to pay off. The company’s efforts have earned it an award as the Greenest Award of Excellence from the municipality of South Dundas.

Ross Video powers video production and entertainment with a wide range of video products, solutions and services, and their dedication to sustainability has changed the way they see the future of the company. Ross says long-term planning for a greener future is a priority for his employees, business partners and clients, and the company is ready to take on that responsibility.

This is an edited transcript of their conversation with OBJ.

How will environmental stewardship shape the future of the company?
David Ross: On one hand, one could argue that being green has very little to do with whether our products and services are functionally better than our competition. In fact, our competition may be able to produce their products more cheaply if they have no regard for the environment. On the other hand, customers and employees are both increasingly concerned about the future of the planet and being green is becoming more of a factor than ever before of who they want to buy from and who they are proud to work for. Long term, we believe that being green is a smart strategic choice that can further differentiate what we sell and who we are.

What was your motivation for making sustainability such a big priority?
I’m a resident of a planet that needs our help. It can be depressing to read about fires, floods, drought, extreme weather, plastic in the oceans and more. It’s very satisfying to realize that I’m actually in a position, in a small way, of being able to make a difference and stake out a leadership position. It’s okay to blend capitalism and social responsibility. I hope other business leaders feel the same and do what they can.

This investment has a very long payback. How are you thinking about it longer term?
Repeatedly making short-term decisions is usually a recipe for business failure. It’s important to make both short- and long-term decisions so that in the future your company isn’t overwhelmed by a lack of investment back when it was still possible. Imagine that green is five per cent of a customer’s decision today but increasing by five per cent per year. In a few years, you could find that you don’t have the revenue and profitability to make the changes to catch up with the market. Those that planned ahead and then kept raising the bar will be so far ahead that it may not be possible to catch up. It’s the same thing with attracting quality staff. If your people see with frustration that you’re not making efforts that you could be making, they could leave and work for a more progressive organization. Those will often be your best and most insightful people going to a competitor, and again that’s not a formula for success.

What other environmentally conscious efforts is Ross Video committed to?
Well, that’s a very long list! I’ll share a few highlights. The new factory expansion will be made with low carbon concrete and will be much better insulated than in the past. All of the lighting will be via efficient LEDs. We are eliminating natural gas heating and instead going to heat exchangers that run on electricity. The electricity in the building will come from a grid that is 94 per cent carbon neutral with the remainder coming from solar on the building. We aren’t able to sell extra power back to the grid, so instead we’re using batteries to store the solar power and use it at night. We’re also putting 16 level two electric car chargers in our parking lot, supporting our green employees and encouraging green choices. We’ve long ago eliminated lead solder and other toxic chemicals from our products and supply chain, while also eliminating plastics in our packaging in favor of renewable green solutions. Obviously we do the regular recycling, and waste reduction that you’d hope any business does as well. As time goes on, we hope to continue this commitment and I’m excited about things we might do next.