Colorful awnings and flags waving in the breeze greeted our group when we arrived at METHOD’s new North American manufacturing headquarters in the historic Pullman Park neighborhood of Chicago’s south side. Thirty intrepid members of the Chicago Chapter converged on the site to get a private tour of the facility, and spent the next hour with our great tour guides.

Method is a $150m soap company, founded by Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry in San Francisco, now owned by the Sorenson family, founders of the Ecover brand. METHOD have been participants in the Conscious Capitalism movement for a while – some of us remember Eric Ryan, Founder and then CEO, from the annual conference in San Francisco in 2013 – and how we entertained us with his live enactment of the white jumpsuited “people against dirty” video. METHOD has also been leading the way in the B Corp movement. The values and discipline of being a B Corp were really evident as we toured the plant. Method’s motivation for building this new manufacturing facility was driven by their desire to improve their B Corp ratings and to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to sustainable business practices.

In seeking a site for their new state-of-the-art facility, Method specifically sought out a brown field site – one that was condemned due to contamination and was considered beyond repair. It’s worth noting that prior to starting construction, Method was tasked with cleaning up the 22-acre site, formerly occupied by Ryerson Steel. Their commitment to the clean up, as well as the construction the manufacturing facility, was done without receipt of any tax breaks.

They then proceeded to turn that site into a LEED platinum certified plant that has an urban rooftop farm (operated by Gotham Greens) that cools the building without air conditioning and uses less energy than the standard building footprint.

 

Method is one of only two companies in the United States to carry the LEED platinum certification designation.

We learned that Method’s environmental commitment didn’t end with the construction of the building. Method does all of its manufacturing, bottling, labeling, packaging, and distribution onsite. For example, the company also looked to its supply chain to reduce its environmental impact. These partnerships include Amcor Rigid Plastics and JB Hunt. Amcor Rigid Plastics operates an onsite bottle facility to manufacture all of Method’s corn-based plastic, post-consumer recyclable bottles. And, JB Hunt operates four dedicated bio diesel trucks to fulfill Method’s low-emission transportation strategy for delivering its products to market.

Method’s vision for this manufacturing facility extends far beyond its ecological benefits. Contributing to the economic and social well being of the community is also critical to the company. Currently, Method’s manufacturing facility employs 66 full-time employees, 30% of which live within the zip code of the plant. Method emphasizes the importance of hiring employees based on personality and values versus specific manufacturing or technical experience. Their philosophy is to utilize employee cross-training to help their people learn their roles.

 

Our tour guide is one of these new local hires – and her joy in working in such a special place was obvious.

On the wall in the stairwell was a mural that the employees created ,“Together we can: 
Make a difference
Change the world!
Believe in each other
Keep it weird
Pullman Redux – but better.”


That said it all.

After the tour we gathered together to connect and enjoy lunch. It was great to see new faces, and rewarding to hear “this is my tribe!” Thanks to all of you who came out. What did we miss? What was your favorite moment?

A big thank you, Andrea Spudich, for your contributions to this post and photos. Andrea is a long-time advocate for sustainability-oriented leadership development. 

Join us on our next field trip! Become a member now.

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