You Can Copy Products, But You Can’t Copy What a Company Stands For
Posted by Luke on May 11, 2010
Eco-Products’ largest competitor, the largest company in our industry, just launched a line of products that look exactly like ours. I don’t think I could have ripped off our design more closely if I tried. It’s shocking, honestly. It’s weird they didn’t get a little more creative.
On one hand, I can’t help but ask our lawyer a few questions. On the other hand, I’m flattered that a $3.5 billion Fortune 500 company would copy a small, Boulder company so precisely… or at least try to.
You see, green is all we’ve ever done. Eco-Products has been around for 20 years as the first business-to-business distributor solely of environmental products. We have one of the largest solar systems in Colorado. We have nearly eliminated all waste from our office building. We offset the emissions from the transportation of our products. We give our employees $1,200 every year if they ride their bike, bus, carpool, or drive a hybrid to work. We constantly challenge ourselves to be more sustainable.
We don’t do these things because we have to. We do them because we think it’s the right thing to do. Regulators aren’t asking us to be more green. Sustainability is in our DNA. It’s who we are. It’s what we believe. It’s all we know. That can’t be copied.
Eco-Products is so much more than just our products. We are an industry change agent. We are a belief system for our customers. We are giving voice to more corporate responsibility. We are greening an industry that’s sole purpose is to create waste, to create landfills. We are trying to reduce waste. Sounds counter-intuitive, right?
99.9% of the competitor’s revenue I referred to above comes from products that have no place to be disposed of but in landfills. Their business is built on waste. Doing anything differently would jeopardize their core business. Sustainability isn’t part of their DNA. In fact, they were ranked in the bottom 20th percentile of the Fortune 500 for “green performance” according to Newsweek. They were ranked below all but 4 of the 31 oil and gas companies.
They have sat on the sidelines for years watching Eco-Products and others build a market for green products and now they want a piece of the action. They could have entered the game long ago. But they didn’t. It wasn’t in their values. Now they want a green story to tell Wall Street.
How will Eco-Products react? We’ll continue doing what we’re doing. We’ll continue being a change agent for the positive. We’ll raise the bar for sustainability. We’ll out innovate them. We’ll develop even better performing, more environmental products faster. And we’ll let our customers’ loyalty speak for itself. Our competitor can throw money at our distributors to get them to switch to their products. The restaurants, coffee shops, universities, and other customers who currently buy Eco-Products will continue demanding our brand. They want something more than just our products. They want something bigger to believe in. They want to be part of something positive. That’s why we do what we do.