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The New Schneiderman – Socially Responsible Business (November 9, 2004)

November 9th, 2004

The New Schneiderman – Socially Responsible Business Champion Nominees, Entrepreneurs for Sustainability

November, 2004

Champion: Peter J. Accorti – Talan Products
(Nominated by: John Colm – Westside Industrial Retention & Expansion Network, WIRE-Net)

Pete Accorti has been a champion of corporate social responsibility, environmental sustainability practice, systems thinking, experimentation and learning in many spheres, including education, design, and business.

I know of his work primarily in the business sector due to my involvement with him as a former Board president and current board member of the Westside Industrial Retention & Expansion Network or WIRE-Net, a Cleveland based non-profit organization devoted to a manufacturing-based economic development strategy. In that capacity, Pete was a founding and active member of WIRE-Net’s Employment & Training Committee, and our Manufacturing Assistance Program, which leveraged existing social capital among progressive manufacturing firms on Cleveland’s west side. Pete was a founding member of the NE Ohio Manufacturing Awareness Council, and is co-chair of the NE Ohio Campaign for American Manufacturing, which advocates for policies to strengthen and enhance domestic-based manufacturing.

Pete was instrumental in forming WIRE-Net’s Manufacturing Assistance Program, which brought together formerly isolated members of NE Ohio’s manufacturing world into a community to learn from and with each other about important strategies to maintain and improve their competitiveness. MAP explored ways to reduce employee turnover, improve hiring practices of Generation X, pursue manufacturing excellence and other topics. The program continues today, and a pilot Learners Group has just finished its first year of work on manufacturing innovation.

Pete was also a champion of a unique effort that resulted in WIRE-Net sending its director of Manufacturing for a internship at the Rocky Mountain Institute. That director was Holly Harlan. As a result of that experience, Holly formed a groundbreaking Manufacturing Sustainability Learners Group with several local manufacturing business leaders from industries that included a metal stamper, plumbing products company, a major dairy and a paint company. Several of these began implementing Natural Capitalism principles explored by the Learners, and one just completed construction of a major green-built, LEED certified distribution center, constructed on a former urban brownfield.

Pete was also a founding member of Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, and a major force behind E4S’ recycling design competition. In his own company, Talan Products, Pete was a central force to build a community of employees and managers, and implemented Open Book Management to engage employees more directly in efforts to improve the financial performance of the organization. Talan has won many awards due in large part to Pete’s leadership. Talan has been a multi-year winner of the Enterprise 100, and the Inc Inner City 100.

Pete is a strong believer that US companies can improve their commitment to and results from a concerted focus on the triple bottom line of profit, employees and community. His work has truly been catalytic, and best of all, many of us believe we did it…not Pete. This is the true mark of a “servant leader”, when your followers believe they did it without you.


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