THE EXCEL PARTNERSHIP IS A LEADING PEER-TO-PEER LEARNING FORUM WHERE TOP BUSINESS EXECUTIVES from some of Canada’s largest companies come together to improve environment and social performance in their businesses. In 2002 they approached Teknion to become a member.
The group is deliberately small – there are only 18 members. Along with Teknion, other members include DuPont, BC Hydro, RBC, Enbridge, Holcim (Canada) Inc., Encana, CN and Suncor. It is also unique because instead of bringing organizations together within one industry, which is the standard, it brings together representatives from organizations across sectors -- a cross-sector collaboration based on shared challenges.
These two factors are critically important, Ted Ferguson, Vice President at the Delphi Group, explains, “You need that sense of intimacy to have an honest, open and productive interaction. And having a cross-industry representation provides many viewpoints and approaches to solving a challenge while removing any concerns about competition. The agenda for the forums is based on member feedback and requests throughout the year so members can go back after the conference and make better decisions,” which is especially important since this “small” collective of peers represents $162 billion in annual revenue, and more than 213,000 employees worldwide.
“We’ve become what we behold. First we shape our tools, and then our tools shape us.”
- Marshall Mcluhan
Chris Henderson, Managing Partner of the EXCEL Partnership, points to a pivotal moment in an EXCEL meeting. He recalls how Teknion’s Scott Deugo, Senior Vice President Sustainable Development, pointed out the interconnection between member organizations. He suggested that that the best way to understand how to minimize environmental impact is to look beyond the traditional supply chain to understand that companies can be tied together across sectors in a web of supply, production and sales.
This fresh perspective spurred a dialogue between Teknion and Holcim (Canada) Inc., one of the largest building materials and construction companies in Canada, and a member of Holcim Group, a Swiss-based multinational with operations in more than 70 countries worldwide. Luc Robitaille, Corporate Director Environment, details his collaboration with Teknion to explore ways in which they could tap into the supply web and purchase residual (waste) materials as an alternative form of energy. “For example, each tonne of wood waste from a Teknion plant could reduce our CO2 emissions by two tonnes if it is added into our fuel mix.” Robitaille sums up, “There is often a negative connotation associated with waste material, but instead, if we can see the potential, instead of the harm, then both the buyer and seller benefits and a greater sustainability dividend is achieved which is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Perspective Gained: When different industries collaborate on sustainability issues the net result can be innovative approaches to shared challenges and objectives.