With global attention now focused on the effort to "go green," many entrepreneurs are cashing in on the venture to make the world more sustainable.
Ray Burger, owner of Pineapple Hospitality, Inc., started his business in 2005 to provide energy-efficient hospitality products to hotels. He managed hotels for about 20 years before starting his own enterprise.
Pineapple Hospitality conducts business with management companies that work with large hotel chains such as Marriott and Hilton Hotels, as well as state park operations and smaller hotels. They also operate two popular Web sites, ecorooms.com and freshstay.com, which promote environmentally friendly and smoke-free hotels."There are seven significant criteria for hotels to be listed on ecorooms.com," said Burger.
Such criteria include the hotels' recycling programs; type of cleaning products used; towel re-use programs; and use of energy-efficient lighting, plumbing, amenities and paper products.
Burger said hotels became increasingly interested in environmentally friendly products in the early 1990s — especially if those products saved the hotels money. Pineapple Hospitality recently launched a new product: "green" key cards. "We sell key cards made of paper instead of plastic," said Burger. "They work just like plastic key cards, except they are more environmentally friendly."
They also sell amenity products, energy-efficient hotel lighting, and other service products such as electric buffet burners that eliminate the necessity for canned fuel. Burger said because his business is growing exponentially in his home base of St. Louis, he plans on adding a few salespeople around the country.
"We've positioned ourselves very well for continued growth with clients across the country," he said. "We're growing very quickly; there's more opportunity than we can capture. We're looking towards a very profitable future."
He said he has learned from real-world experience that in order to effectively manage
a business, entrepreneurs need to manage their priorities. Today, some of those priorities tend to focus on such environmentally friendly practices that make a company run more efficiently, he added. "There are only so many hours in a day," Burger said. "One of the things I knew going in, is that it takes a lot of time (to manage a business). So you need people who are focused on growing revenues to assist you."
Burger said he believes any business disregarding the addition of energy-efficient products and services will likely be left behind in the marketplace — especially when it comes to saving money. For example, compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs cost about 10 times more than an incandescent bulb, but only uses 25 to 30 percent of the energy and lasts 13 times longer.
"The great green rush is on," Burger emphasized. "We are inundated with requests for information, samples, etcetera. It seems lodging properties of all shapes and sizes now have a sense of urgency to go green."