Every entrepreneur has a mission for his or her business. This mission is often what drives every single aspect of the entrepreneur's business including marketing initiatives, hiring employees and developing partnerships. Marstel-Day, LLC is no different and for Founder, President and CEO Rebecca R. Rubin, this holds true. Rubin established Marstel-Day in Old Town Alexandria in 2002. She felt that there were a lot of environmental firms that didn't really do work in what she called “natural resource conservation” and she wanted Marstel-Day to be “no kidding, hardcore and focused on saving the planet.” While Marstel-Day helps businesses and entrepreneurs, she says that often because they have such a strong environmental ethic they are confused with being a non-profit organization.
In the early days, Rubin and her company moved to different offices in Alexandria but around 2004 the company decided to move to a location with a lot more green space and next to a rail line to be able to visit clients. They made the decision to keep an office in Alexandria but move their corporate headquarters to Fredericksburg, Virginia. They decided to move both of their locations close to the rail line.
On the surface a move to be next to a railroad might seem minuscule, but for a company like Marstel Day that takes its queue from its CEO, being close to a rail line was vital to stay true to its environmental mission. The move would make it easier for employees to visit clients in Washington D.C and the office in Alexandria. Rather than being stuck on I-95 and the cost psychologically and also in time and to the environment, they decided it was the correct decision.
Staying True to The Mission
Being on a rail line was one of the ways that Rubin and her team look beyond the day-to-day activities and make decisions based on the impact that it has on the environment and also humanity.
Some of the projects that Marstel-Day is participating in to stay true to its mission include a partnership with CarbonFund.org where they calculate air and driving miles that are business related and calculate their facility footprint for greenhouse gas emissions. Once this number is totaled Marstel-Day presents a check based on this number to CarbonFund.org. The organization then takes the check and uses it for their mega projects. Marstel-Day also was the first service company in the nation to receive P391 Certification from NSF International. Even Earth Day is a “mandatory community event” for employees. When employees sign their offer letter, they must commit their Earth Day to a project such as planting trees or any other project to help the environment.
Influencing Fredericksburg, Virginia
Because their Corporate Headquarters is based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the company's employees are heavily involved with the local community including a Client Environment Resilience Plan with the University of Mary Washington and 60-70 community stakeholders to “create a more environmentally sustainable region.” Marstel-Day also created a Green Business Initiative Council to advise the Regional Chamber of Commerce on how to they can go green and influence other businesses to go green. Finally, Rubin and her team also speak at Rotary clubs and local events about the benefits of going green and why they made that decision.
Rubin explains that for them it wasn't about the bottom line and that the company didn't have a very large carbon footprint to begin with. Instead it was tied into their mission. For businesses that are considering “Going Green,” they should have a purpose and reason behind it to ensure that the initiatives will last. Rubin explains that “If the sole purpose is the bottom line, those initiatives won't survive. You're not doing it for the right reasons. If you think about it that way, it is a more inspired approach.”
Businesses are becoming more aware of the environment and Rubin attributes that to people getting panicky about things such as large swings in temperatures. Because the heart of business is about “controlling risks” business owners are now taking it upon themselves to become more educated.
Advice for Entrepreneurs, Business Owners & CEOs
- Use common sense when thinking of going green. Don't run out to get a certification. Are you approaching vendors to ensure they are using green products? Divide your business into parts and take one step at a time to analyze each part of your business.
- The idea that if you're not growing, you're in trouble, I don't subscribe to that. I think you have different roles at different times. If you lose employees, that doesn't mean you can't do quality work.
- Don't worry about what other people tell you are the rules (not from a legal compliance standpoint). One example is defining yourself by growth.
- The real question you have to ask every day is “Are you excellent at your craft?” If you do, you value your work.
- If you are going to be a business owner, think about what you are contributing to society. How will society be different? Are you contributing to the greater good? For profits businesses can contribute as much as non-profit businesses.
- It helps to be the lone wolf when you are CEO. It helps to make decisions that are sometimes tough decisions.
- If you are not prepared for the chain of responsibility as a CEO, don't do it.
- You have to be smart enough to listen. It is important to listen to stakeholders and advisors for feedback.
- One of the best reasons to start a business is if you want freedom. Not that you don't have to work, but the work you have to do is invented by your own brain. You can make yourself as free as you want to be. If you are the type of person that does well with that then that is probably a good reason to start your own business.
Rebecca Rubin and Marstel-Day are available to help consult and coach entrepreneurs and business owners on environmental and conservation issues.
Rebecca Rubin is a change agent. In 2013, she was named by the White House as a 2013 Champion of Change for Community Resilience. She is also a graduate of Harvard College (BA in history) and Columbia University (MA in International Security). Rubin's work has been part of introducing climate change adaption strategies into sustainability studies for the United States military services. She has also been a leading voice in the Fredericksburg regional multi-jurisdiction Climate and Environmental Resilience Plan. The plan is being developed by local businesses, the University of Mary Washington, and five municipal governments. One of her most exciting projects is the Vital Voices of the Environment.
Marstel-Day, LLC is a 120-person environmental consulting enterprise with offices in Alexandria and Fredericksburg, VA; Baltimore, MD; Oakland and Oceanside, CA; Dallas and San Antonio, TX; and Colorado Springs, CO. The company helps clients meet their environmental, energy, water, climate adaptation, and conservation planning needs. The company has numerous awards including being INC Magazine's 500/5000, Zweigwhite's HOTFirm list, Alliance for Workplace Excellence (AWE) Eco-Leadership Award , the Sierra Club's “Living Green” award, Virginia Business Magazine's “Top 25 People to Watch,” The Environmental Business Journal's Gold Medal award, the University of Virginia's Darden School ‘Tayloe Murphy Award for Resilience'. Marstel Day is a woman-owned, small, certified HUBZone business with multiple prime contract vehicles. Their website has more information including news and action plans.