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Sustainability Starts With People

SOPREMA Sustainability Starts with People
November 10, 2020 at 10:00 A.M.

By Karen L. Edwards, RCS Editor. 

SOPREMA is passionate about sustainability, infusing the concept into its company culture. 

In a recent Roofing Road Trips webinar, Tim Kersey, SOPREMA VP and general manager, and Matt Davis, marketing manager, visited with Heidi about their company’s commitment to sustainability. Tim shared that sustainability needs to be a focus since according to the data he has, “the construction industry is the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.” 

Sustainability in people 

To address sustainability, SOPREMA developed three pillars of sustainability, the first of which is their people. “We start with the health and wellness of our employees,” explained Tim. “I like to use the term life balance because work is a big part of our lives, and it’s critical that the health of the organization, both mentally and physically, is in a good state.” 

By helping their employees lead balanced, healthy lives, the company has seen many returns. Perhaps the most noticeable is the improvement in safety. “In Ohio alone, our factory here is now well over 2,200 days without a lost time accident,” explained Tim. 

The second pillar is ownership at the collaborator level. “At SOPREMA, we refer to our employees as collaborators and that comes directly from our owner,” said Tim. “Collaboration is key. We can have all sorts of mandates, and we can push and train and do all the things that we do and without the ownership of our employee collaborators, it's difficult to change a culture. Then we must follow up as leaders because if we don't keep it alive, it's too easy for it to go away.” 

Training is a key pillar in SOPREMA’s sustainability initiatives. “Training is key and has to be ongoing. We actually have a key performance indicator in our company that is specific to training so every collaborator in our company is tasked to receive a specified number of hours of training every year and part of it is sustainability.” 

Sustainability in products 

“The simplest way for me to describe sustainability from a product standpoint is products that are durable,” explained Tim. “Speaking specifically to low-slope roofing, modified bitumen is a product category that by percentage of market varies across the globe; in Europe it's a high percentage, in Canada it's a dominating percentage of the market, and then U.S., it's not as much anymore. But when you look at the history, we've got decades of performance with modified bitumen. We're not relying just on lab information or calculations to project into the future, we've actually got the in-place performance to back up the durability statement.” 

Tim shared that SOPREMA as a company has a global mandate that shares what the owner’s vision of sustainability is and details what it looks like today as well as what it might look like well into the future. SOPREMA has implemented some internal initiatives in the company to empower the next generation of managers and collaborators to take ownership of sustainability and figure out how to make lives better moving forward. 

Empowering the next generation through Gen M 

Generation Mammoth, or Gen M for short, was formed so the next generation and next level of supervision and management in SOPREMA can bring ideas and initiatives to senior staff to keep things fresh and alive. 

Matt Davis is a member of Gen M and said that sustainability is something the committee wanted to focus on. “We are still in the early stages, but we wanted to look for easy things that could have an immediate impact like reducing the number of plastic water bottles that we're using and having only reusable cups, reducing our reliance on paper, trying to move jobs away from physical printing and record keeping onto all of our digital tools like Teams and OneDrive,” said Matt. “We will also be tackling some really large topics like how we recycle roofing materials after tear off, if there's certain things we can do with single plies and modifieds. We want to look at how we are packaging our products to see if there's a way to start using renewable resources or biodegradable components.” 

Matt explained that SOPREMA globally is working to make its plants more sustainable. “At many plants, we have solar arrays; we have wind farms, and we're actually creating our own electricity and trying to reduce our carbon footprint,” he explained. 

These efforts are also important for attracting the future workforce. “This Gen M committee is designed to look at things we can do to attract the younger generation, not even just to SOPREMA or our company, but to the industry in general,” said Matt. SOPREMA puts its money behind the effort awarding thousands of dollars every year in scholarship funds to support to students who are studying roofing and construction. 

Learn more about SOPREMA and their sustainability initiatives by watching the webinar on demand. 



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