“It’s not easy being green.”
The famous felted frog who first sung those lyrics back in 1970 was actually lamenting his skin color and how hard it is to stand out in a world full of so many ordinary things that are green.
Kermit likely never envisioned how, decades later, those words would so poignantly ring true in an era where being “green” has become synonymous with environmentalism, and nearly everyone, it seems, has found a way to slap a “green” label on their brand in hopes of winning over the lucrative eco-conscious consumer.
Amid a sea of would-be green contenders, one local-grown company has distinguished itself and enjoyed sustained success by basing every aspect of its business model on an unwavering commitment to being environmentally responsible.
Movegreen—the brainchild of local entrepreneur Erik Haney—has flourished as the only eco-friendly moving and storage company in the region, serving a broad range of residential and commercial customers.
Last spring, Haney moved the operation into new, larger digs at 1 N. Calle Cesar Chavez. Just six months later, the seven-year-old startup more than doubled its space to 17,300 square feet when it amended its lease in January to include 9,900 additional square feet of adjacent warehouse.
It just so happens to be the largest industrial lease transaction in Santa Barbara since 2011, according to Gene Deering of Radius Commercial Real Estate & Investments who represented Movegreen in the deal.
“Quality commercial space that can serve a variety of purposes is increasingly more important to businesses like Movegreen, and increasingly more difficult to come by in Santa Barbara,” said Deering.
That fact is not lost on Haney, who at the age of 20 founded Santa Barbara Student Movers while attending Santa Barbara City College before going on to break new ground by creating Movegreen in 2007.
“I know how competitive the real estate market is, so I feel very fortunate to have landed this space downtown so we can more efficiently serve our Santa Barbara customers,” said Haney.
“Movegreen continues to grow by 20-30% every year,” he said. “Not only is the extra space necessary to accommodate the expanding storage side of our business, keeping the operation in one centralized, streamlined footprint is vital to making good on our commitment to being green in every way possible.”
But having feet firmly planted in Santa Barbara doesn’t mean Haney plans to stay still. “I love adventure and I’m constantly looking to push myself,” said Haney. “I’m also very competitive, and for me that means staying open to change and growth.”
It’s that competitive spirit that has Haney poised to drive the company further down the road as he finalizes preparations to expand Movegreen’s territory into a new California market in 2014, though he declined to give specifics just yet.
Meanwhile, competition abounds locally in the ever-widening landscape of green commerce as more and more businesses and entrepreneurs look to follow in Movegreen’s tracks, hoping to carve their own successful niche. The Green Business Santa Barbara County website now lists 70 certified green businesses in the area.
“We’re proud to be the third local company to have been certified,” said Haney. “We like to think we’ve had a hand in influencing others to innovate and improve their operations.”
The select group of certified merchants and service providers—whose diverse membership includes a marching band supply company—have made it a best practice to go above and beyond required measures in observing environmental laws and regulations and adopting resource conservation and pollution prevention measures.
“I created this company to revolutionize the moving and storage business,” said Haney. “I believe we’ve shown that any business can be socially responsible and do their part for the environment.”
Haney has embedded that mantra in the company’s culture with perks like partially subsidizing the cost of a bike to commute to work to encourage employees to use alternative methods of transportation. On the job staff use iPads to perform in-home surveys and send estimates, cutting down on paper waste. Movegreen trucks run on biodiesel and comply with industry standards not yet required of businesses. Packing and storage supplies are sourced from sustainable materials and cardboard boxes are reused and recycled.
But the true “above and beyond” part of Movegreen’s pledge is most evident in the company’s off-road activities.
An outdoor enthusiast, Haney doesn’t separate that part of his life from his business. A love of activities such as snowboarding, golfing and camping has helped influence a respect for the fragility of the earth’s natural resources.
“I’m very proud of our partnership with the non-profit Trees for the Future program,” said Haney. “For every move we perform we donate funds to support the planting of 10 trees.”
“Being eco-conscious means much more to me than just recycling. I believe every business, every person has a responsibility to find ways to ensure our planet stays vibrant and healthy.”
Four years ago Movegreen teamed up with other local businesses to start the annual Futures Golf Tournament benefiting the local Teacher’s Fund. According to Haney, the event has raised over $155,000 to date, touching more than 270 classrooms and 8,000 children by helping local school districts provide much needed educational materials.
Additionally, Movegreen staff roll up their sleeves on a regular basis to take part in activities such as picking up trash in the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program, or transporting and handing out books in the United Way’s annual book drive. Recently they assisted the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore in relocating to its new facility.
“You don’t do it for the recognition,” said Haney. “It’s extremely rewarding to do everything you can to help others do their own good work.”
“We’re so grateful for our customers who have made their own conscious commitment to be environmentally responsible,” he said. “We’re thankful for the educators and the non-profits who inspire us, and the professionals and business partners like Radius who allow us to stay focused on our mission.”
It may not be easy being green. But Haney and Movegreen make it look enviable.