BBQGuys® 2022 Environmental Initiatives
Despite a long year full of industry upheaval and market shortages, Baton Rouge-based BBQGuys has seen unparalleled growth and success — all without losing sight of our commitment to environmental values. But when it comes to putting a thumb on the pulse of our operations and green initiatives, there’s no better participant for that conversation than Byron West, Chief Operations Officer.
We sat down to discuss his changes to our waste impact, what he envisions for 2022 and beyond, and how our logistics partners help our feet with the pedals.
“The idea is to be better stewards of the environment, and better stewards of our people,” Byron notes matter-of-factly. "In my role right now, what I’m looking at is the environmental piece… and how we meet that responsibility.”
When Byron first assumed operations oversight in late 2020, BBQGuys fulfilled all orders from one distribution center here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Partnering with GXO, we moved swiftly to establish remote distribution centers to provide faster, reliable delivery to our nationwide customers — first in San Bernardino, California, and more recently Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania in September 2021. “We’re at over four times the value of inventory than we were less than a year ago,” Byron notes. “When I joined in November, we held $8 million in inventory. Today, that’s $30 million. And that’s a lot of bubble wrap and styrofoam ending up in landfills, but part of my job is knowing — and shrinking — that impact.”
After we can’t help but ask how that investment in inventory has fared for our customers, he proudly adds: “Instead of 4, 6, or even 8-week shipping times, right now we have it and ship it within 24 hours, 76% of the time. And 95% of the time, it’s out on a truck in under 3 days, with less byproduct with every parcel possible.”
Disposable Supplies Changes
“For our food services, we’ve replaced all our styrofoam with compostable, sugarcane cups and compartmented clamshells from Eco-Products®. We’ve also moved to curbside recyclable for our company kitchen. These choices doubled those monthly expenses, but we made that investment so we can curb adding styrofoam and plastic to our landfills.”
“In the Baton Rouge warehouses, and in small parcels especially, we’ve phased out using air-filled plastic and bubble wrap for void fill. Instead, we’re seeing great results with machines that shred curbside-recycled paper. Despite the higher quality paper we’re using, we’re already seeing large productivity gains that might actually save us money.
"For the outside of the box, we’re using paper tape in comparison to plastic tape, and we’re testing machines that make the equivalent of bubble wrap out of paper. We’re also minimizing plastic straps and shrink wrap through over-boxing — beyond the branding benefits, this helps us crate trucks easier and eliminate non-recycled materials in the shipping process.”
Paper Consumption Changes
“Historically, our warehouses have by necessity printed orders in duplicate or triplicate. We’re not interested in continuing that. Fortunately, an upcoming backend systems partnership we’re aggressively pursuing with NetSuite will replace all those receipts with RF guns and a barcode system in our warehouses. That’ll reduce a significant amount of paper and toner we burn through. I looked into it, and we’re spending tens of thousands of dollars a year on paper alone; partnering with NetSuite for our fulfillment operations will help stop that environmental impact in its tracks.”