When I purchased my first business back in 1990, it was a company that had been mismanaged for many years. The financial statements had been altered for years to hide the ugly truth that the business was going down the tubes. Top management also had engaged in inappropriate behavior with the staff. The climate in this company was ripe for a reality show drama that could rival the Kardashians.
As I immersed myself in this culture of debauchery, I knew that the only way to climb out of this mess was to run the business with the highest level of integrity. Now that I reflect back upon the past 24 years, I submit that the only way to run a business is according to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do onto you.
In my mind, this means treat people with respect, support people so they can succeed, be diligent about cutting waste, and be willing to make tough decisions that are in the best interest of the entire organization. Keep things simple and pragmatic. And avoid the egotistical nonsense that kills many a company.
That’s why I’m so upset with one of my recent decisions. Folks, I have officially sold out. I have succumbed to the political machine. I am now one of the many who have bought into an economic fraud. My name is Brooks, and I am a scammer.
So what have I done to violate the basic tenets of good business practice? What action could be so odious that I would feel compelled to bare my soul to the blogosphere? What has caused me to sell out after all these good years? Here it goes folks. I am prepared to confess.
I have officially committed the company to become certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
OUCH. That hurt. I think it was easier for Lance Armstrong to admit he lied. I was hoping I would receive immediate support and words of encouragement.
A Michael Sams kind of vindication; letting me know that I was really over reacting to the circumstances. But no. Here I sit, a newly minted scam artist, befriended by the thousands of lemmings who have bought into the FSC program in the past. I will soon be a member of a group that uses social responsibility as a cloak to hide its economic greed.
I was forced to pursue an FSC certification since Re-View was selected to manufacture historic window replicas for a LEED gold university project. In order to secure a precious point towards a gold standing, the project team demanded that all wood be FSC and all people who touch said wood be chain of custody certified.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was founded in 1993 and says that its mission is to promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests. What this organization really does is spend its time manipulating the construction industry in an effort to feather its “non-profit” nest.
The pursuit of forestry certification hegemony and the associated fees is the true calling of the FSC. Social responsibility serves only as the accelerant to drive sales and the associated profits of certifications.
The FSC spends more effort trying to shoot down competitive forestry management programs than it does to promote responsible forestry. For many years now, the FSC has viciously attacked the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) in an effort to maintain a single standard.
They have publicly attacked consumer product manufacturers who used SFI labels in their packaging. FSC also pays dearly to sustain its standing as the only certification accepted by LEED. If FSC was truly interested in the promotion of responsible forestry management, one would think they would encourage other certification agencies that pursue the same goal. This pit bull attitude towards competition shows the true colors of FSC.
I have a hard time understanding how a “non-profit” organization would need to charge such exorbitant rates for its certification. In addition to the annual fee, one has to pay to have an auditor evaluate the written procedures demanded by the organization.
Once the auditor is gone, there is no mechanism to police compliance and there have been many cases of lapses in quality standards. In just the past year, FSC has increased its annual fee by 32.5%. Wow! How many non-profits increase their rates by such a grand margin? I could retire early if my company could increase prices at the FSC rate.
Soon my company will have an eight-page document that outlines our policies and procedures on how we handle wood according to the FSC guidelines. Why did I take this step? Because business is business as they say. Our company won’t have to alter any of our business practices since we already sourced our wood from responsible forests.
After we pay our auditor and the FSC fee, we will be able to proudly display the FSC logo on our products, website, and marketing materials. We will also be able to charge more for our FSC products even though nothing has changed. I’m not saying we will do it…but we could. I feel so good about myself. It has been a tough week. I think I’ll go crawl into a hole.
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