Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Werner Braun, CRI President, Measures Success

Werner Braun, CRI President

“If You Can Measure It, You Can Improve It”

Measuring Success with Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) President Werner Braun

When Werner Braun’s parents moved their young family to the United States from Stuttgart, Germany in 1949, they came with nothing but three large suitcases and their dreams for a better life.

Werner grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, where his father worked as head pastry chef for the Indianapolis-based L.S. Ayres Department Stores, whose famous downtown tearoom has been meticulously recreated in a permanent exhibit of the Indiana State Museum.

A talented student athlete, Werner attended St. Edward University in Austin, Texas, on an athletic and academic scholarship that covered all of his expenses, including tuition, books, room and board, and laundry service. “The laundry was the best part,” he says.

In 1998, Werner retired from The Dow Chemical Company after a 31-year career in analytical chemistry, where he specialized in pharmacokinetics – the study of how the human body handles various drugs – a field that later led to toxicology. Although he started at Dow working as a staff chemist, a job he describes as “full of redundancy”, he moved up quickly into group and then issues management. “I love challenges that require creative solutions – at Dow I created a unique niche for myself, and that helped me stand out.”

After retirement, Werner worked as an independent consultant, but when an opportunity arose later that year to be Senior Director of International Affairs with the Chlorine Chemistry Council (C3) in Washington, DC, he took it. “You have to understand, I retired with a one and a three year-old at home,” he says.

Werner Braun rockclimbingShortly after joining C3, Werner got a call from a contact in Dalton, Georgia asking him if he would be interested in a leadership position at CRI. Industry leaders remembered Werner for his help with issues management during the now-discredited “killer carpet” furor that erupted in 1989-90 while Werner was still at Dow. The deal was made, and Werner moved to Dalton and the Presidency of CRI.

Werner restructured the CRI from a traditional trade association into a more traditional business model, with products and brands, such as CRI’s signature programs Seal of Approval and Green Label Plus. “CRI’s product is information, and we use surveys and research to develop science-based information for the industry, the public, and any audience relevant to the carpet industry.” Werner instituted Issue Management Teams to improve the information flow from one CRI interest area to another. “There used to be three information silos at CRI – Technical, Marketing, and Government, and each one was a world unto itself – one area didn’t know what the other areas were doing,” he said. Now, CRI IMTs include members from broad cross-sections of the industry.

Werner’s varied interests include tennis, photography, rock climbing, golf, and European sports cars. He is a student of history and an avid chef with a weakness for Cajun food. He attends his children’s sporting events faithfully and is a stalwart supporter of their projects and community fundraising activities, offering to match dollar-for-dollar whatever any CRI employee donates to the cause of the day. Known for his colorful phrases and vast vocabulary, Werner is the only person I have ever heard use the phrase de minimis in a sentence. (I looked it up – it means really, really small.)

Coming up on his ten-year anniversary with CRI, Werner says he is grateful for the friends he’s made in what he considers to be a great American industry. “On many levels - economic, social, and environmental - [The carpet industry] works hard at doing the right thing. It’s fun to be a part of an industry like this.”

Thanks, Werner, you make it fun for the rest of us, too.

Note: here is a link to Werner Heinz Braun's CV listing his many accomplishments.


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

CRI and CARE Attend GreenBuild 2009

GreenBuild 2009
The United States Green Building Council’s eighth annual GreenBuild Environmental Show was recently held in Phoenix, Arizona and once again convention-goers streamed into the vast tradeshow floor from all across the country. More than 1,800 exhibitors were on hand to display their wares including the CRI which joined hands with the Carpet America Recovery Effort to hawk our messages to as many of the 24,000-plus attendees of the show we could reach.

Former Vice-President Al Gore and singer Sheryl Crowe were both a part of the mix for the large show and it is obvious that the so-called “green movement” is alive and well. The value of green building construction is projected to increase to $60 billion by 2010 and by the end of this year, 82% of corporate America is expected to be greening at least 16% of their real estate portfolios; of these corporations, 18% will be greening more than 60% of their real estate portfolios. What does this translate to? The green building products market is projected to be worth $30-$40 billion annually by 2010.

The best news in all of this is the fact the carpet industry is, and continues to be, one of, if not the, greenest of its kind. Almost all of our member companies were on hand for the show delivering their individual green messages to the crowd, and CRI/CARE was there to emphasize what we do for the industry collectively.

For this particular blog post, I thought it might be nice to let you hear from those who attended the show and gather their thoughts on it. From my own personal perspective, I’m not really sure how much actual business is done at this show, but I do know it goes a long way in helping companies brand their products with the ever-expanding crowd and as the future continues to move towards this axiom, be assured the carpet industry will continue to have a major impact on it.

Jeff Carrier, CRI Sustainability Manager
The crowd at Greenbuild really served to remind that environmental and sustainability issues have weathered the economic storm and continue to present an opportunity for builders and commerce. It was really impressive to see the number of smaller businesses that have joined the movement. As these smaller businesses expand, the availability of green oriented products and services will increase in availability to all corners of the nation. Simultaneously, the costs that have long plagued the green products sector will continue to fall. This will remove a major, outdated stigma attached to green building and products.

Jeremy Stroop, Operations Manager for CARE:
For CARE, the greatest advantage of attending Greenbuild is the ability it affords us to connect with a global audience of manufacturers, recyclers, architects, designers and specifiers. CARE continues to seek out additional outlets for post-consumer carpet and Greenbuild provided the perfect platform for CARE to reach the most appropriate manufacturing base – the Green builders and manufacturers most receptive to using an alternative sustainable feedstock from recovered post-consumer carpet.

Besides the networking opportunities, Georgina Sikorski, Frank Hurd and I got to talk to a significant number of architects, designers and specifiers on how to incorporate carpet reclamation into their projects. As always, we encouraged everyone to procure and use building materials that contain post-consumer carpet materials and to specify carpets that contain post-consumer carpet content or are certified to the NSF 140 Sustainability Standard at the Platinum level. At the Platinum level, the NSF 140 Standard requires carpet reclamation according to CARE’s guidelines.

Many of the folks I talked to at Greenbuild were interested in proper carpet cleaning and maintenance as a way to protect and expand the life of their floor covering investment and safeguard the environment by preventing carpet from being replace prematurely and ending up in a landfill ahead of its time. Consequently, we talked a lot about CRI’s Seal of Approval (SOA) and how preserving customers’ investments in their carpet through proper care represents a winning situation for everyone – customers, CARE, and the environment.

Frank Hurd, CRI VP and CARE Board Chair:
From what I saw at Greenbuild, I can say that Sustainability is alive and going great guns. And it’s interesting to note that in this economy, Greenbuild is the only conference/tradeshow I know of that continues to grow. This year saw the largest number of attendees in the history of the show.

Clearly, the USGBC and its programs are driving companies of all types to be more sustainable in their products and services, and I am proud to say that once again, the carpet industry demonstrated its environmental leadership through CARE and the availability of innovative products carrying the ANSI/NSF 140 certification for sustainability. Several carpet mills donated carbon credits to make Greenbuild carbon-neutral, and some donated and then recycled the carpet for the trade show floor. As we all know, carpet just feels better and is much easier on the backs and feet of folks who spend all day on their feet at a tradeshow.

Another significant event was LA Fibers launch of its Reliance Stainmaster EcoSoft 100% post-consumer Nylon 6,6 carpet cushion. Hopefully this will lead to even more post-consumer carpet being recycled.

I’d say Greenbuild was a great show overall.

Georgina Sikorski, Executive Director, Carpet America Recovery Effort
As always, Greenbuild is a great opportunity to reconnect with those in the industry who are on the journey to sustainability.

I think the most memorable part for me was the successful launch of EcoSoft™, the 100% recycled content carpet cushion which came about as a partnership between Reliance Carpet Cushion and Stainmaster®. With the power of the Stainmaster® brand behind this product, the post-consumer carpet cushion delivers on the promise of performance and environmental sustainability. It is a win-win solution to the issue of keeping carpet from the landfill and CARE is proud to be a part of this solution.

What are your thoughts on GreenBuild?


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

CRI Annual Membership Meeting 11/19/09

CRI Annual Membership Meeting Agenda

CRI Annual Membership Meeting Set for November 19, 2009. Kennesaw State University Professor of Economics Slated as Guest Speaker

This Thursday, November 19, is a big day for CRI. From 10 until 11:30 am, the Carpet and Rug Institute holds its Annual Membership Meeting at the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center. CRI members and all interested parties are invited to attend.

CRI President Werner Braun will address the State of CRI, and CRI Board Chairman Ralph Boe will speak on 2009 accomplishments.

CRI Board Chairman, Ralph BoeGuest Speaker is Dr. Donald Sabbarese, a professor at Kennesaw State University and Director of KSU’s Econometric Center. Dr. Sabbarese, who specializes in the area of macroeconomics and financial institutions will be speaking on the current economy and outlining various scenarios for recovery.

The title of his talk is, The Recession Ended In The 3rd Quarter of 2009. The Economic Recovery That Follows Will Be Either V, U or W Shaped. So What Will This Recovery Look Like? He says he will briefly discuss where the economy is today and the critical economic forces that will determine the path of recovery.

Dr. Sabbarese directs the Georgia Purchasing Managers Survey, the Southeast Regional Purchasing Managers Survey, and other research involving the local and regional economy, such as 2007 Performance and Practices of Georgia’s Manufacturing Firms, industry surveys and economic impact studies. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of ISM-Atlanta and has served as Director of the Graduate School of Banking for Community Bankers.

CRI Annual Membership MeetingA representative of Milliken & Company will present the 2009 Joseph J. Smrekar Memorial Award. The award was established for CRI by Milliken & Co., as a memorial to Smrekar, who served on numerous CRI boards before his death in 1998. The award recognizes individuals who have shown “unusual and exemplary service to the carpet and rug industry.”

CRI President Werner Braun hopes to see a large turnout for Thursday’s meeting. “CRI’s Annual Meeting gives our membership and the community a chance to see the accomplishments and ongoing efforts CRI undertakes on their behalf. I hope everyone will join us at the Trade Center on Thursday.”

Thanks, Werner. I’ll be there.


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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Carpet and Rug Institute Blog: 6 Month Analysis

The Carpet and Rug Institute BlogThe First Six Months: Carpet and Rug Institute Blog is Subject of Consultant’s Case study

It’s hard for me to believe it’s already been six months since I wrote my first post for the CRI blog. I had never written for a blog before, but some elements were familiar to me – what kind of writing style to use; how to choose the topics, etc. – I had my background as a reporter to help me with that. But other aspects, like how to make a story “relevant” in terms of what keywords to include in the title and first paragraph, and in general how to maximize the SEO – Search Engine Optimization – of the stories I wrote…that part took some getting used to. Luckily, I had the help of Christine Whittemore, whose consultancy, Simple Marketing Now, specializes in helping companies and organizations spread their messages using social media.

Things we set out to accomplish with the Carpet and Rug Institute Blog were first, to provide CRI with a self-publishing platform that would bring carpet-related issues to the attention of a wider audience, specifically, internet users. We also wanted to use links on the CRI blog to create greater exposure for the wealth of information that exists on the CRI website. Finally, we wanted to increase CRI’s visibility on Google rankings, particularly when it came to correcting some of the negative information that exists in abundance on the internet.

Earlier this week, Christine Whittemore published a case study on her Simple Marketing Blog that examines the CRI Blog’s performance during its first six months. The analysis shows that during this time, the blog’s 59 stories have generated a total of 5,637 visits and 8,873 page views, which indicates that a little more than half of the people who visit the blog open up another page from a link inside the blog. Average time spent per visit is 2.13 minutes.

Perhaps most interesting is the fact that 65% of the total traffic to the Carpet and Rug Institute Blog comes from search engines. According to the Simple Marketing Now analysis:

This is significant because it means that a new audience, beyond industry insiders and those already familiar with the Carpet and Rug Institute, is becoming aware of the CRI and its information about carpet. The CRI Blog is successfully increasing the visibility of valuable CRI research-based resources.

Here’s a list of the most popular stories so far:

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jet Stream Grill CRI SOA Success Story On YouTube

Bethany Richmond, CRI, Jet Stream Grill SOA Success StoryAnother Carpet and Rug Institute Seal of Approval (SOA) Success Story – in video of the Jet Stream Grill - has just been posted on YouTube!

A six-minute video that shows how even the dirtiest carpet can be brought back to life is the latest addition to the Carpet and Rug Institute’s YouTube channel, carpetchannel1.

Regular readers will remember my earlier posts about the Jet Stream Grill. (See Jet Stream Grill SOA Success Story Part I and Part II) I first saw the restaurant one night when I was joining some friends for dinner. The lighting was very dim and at first I thought the flowing path I saw in the carpet was a custom design made to look like a map of the Jet Stream winds. Later, I realized what I was looking at was some of the dirtiest carpet I had ever seen.

I had spoken to CRI vice-president Frank Hurd about the possibility of making a video for YouTube about the effectiveness of CRI’s Seal of Approval testing and certification program for carpet cleaning solutions, systems, and equipment, and it struck me that the Jet Stream Grill might be the perfect subject for that. I also thought we could use the video to spotlight the importance of using a certified Seal of Approval Service Provider and how easy it is to find an SOA-certified cleaning professional on the CRI web site.

With the go-ahead from CRI Market Issues Director James Beach and permission from the Jet Stream Grill’s owner, Chattanooga TV weatherman Neal Pascal, I asked talented filmmaker and editor George Craig to help me.

We arrived at the restaurant at about 3 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. When I got there, the hostess told me Neal planned to keep the restaurant open while we cleaned, but once we explained what the process involved, he quickly changed his mind. We moved in and immediately started moving tables and chairs out of the way.

Tony Gladson and Edward Hooker from Spectra Product Care lent their cleaning expertise, and carpet-cleaning consultant Bill Doan also offered invaluable help in that area. The hardest part was the light – as I noticed the first time I went there, the restaurant was dark. I had asked George to bring an extra light kit, but even with the additional illumination, it was still a trick to get the shots lit well enough to show the real difference the cleaning process made. We were moving as fast as we could - literally racing to finish before the sun went down. To save time, I helped vacuum and run the agitator. Still, in the final shots you can see that it’s completely dark outside. By the time we left the restaurant around 9:30 I was completely exhausted. Carpet cleaning is hard work.

View for yourself what's involved and the amazing difference that using SOA approved cleaning products, equipment and service providers make in this Jet Stream Grill SOA Success Story.

[Subscribers, please click on this link to view the Jet Stream Grill video.]
I hope you like the video. And if anyone has a good Seal of Approval Success story, I would love to know about it – we’ll put it on YouTube!

~ BethanyTechnorati Tags:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

CRI Participates in Review of California Green Chemistry Proposal

Frank HurdCarpet and Rug Institute Participates in Review of California Green Chemistry Proposal. Frank Hurd, CRI Director of Government Issues, Says New Law Will Affect Carpet Industry.

New legislation in California that would establish sweeping new regulations for every manufacturer of a product offered for consumer use in California took CRI Government Affairs Director Frank Hurd and Technical Issues Director Ken McIntosh to Sacramento for a Green Chemistry workshop sponsored by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

The workshop, held October 21st, 2009, was to review the draft proposal for implementation of AB 1879 – the so-called Green Chemistry bill that seeks to regulate and eventually ban all chemicals of concern from products offered for sale in California.

Frank Hurd agreed to help me clarify some of the main points of the bill for CRI Blog readers.

BR: How is California Green Chemistry bill different from California’s regulations on chemicals in the past?

FH: The Green Chemistry legislation marks a move away from chemical-by-chemical legislation to deal with a broader list of “chemicals of concern”. Ken McIntosh and I reviewed a draft of the bill that identifies 16 primary chemicals of concern, but the legislation also would include any chemical identified on a list of 29 national and international references. Very few chemicals produced would not be affected.

California Green SolutionsBR: What would the bill require of manufacturers?

FH: The draft regulation requires any manufacturer of a consumer product that contains one or more of the listed chemicals of concern to:

• Identify the respective hazard for the chemical(s) of concern and the possible routes of exposure

• Provide notice that this product is subject to the alternatives analysis required – which means the manufacturer must look for a “safer” chemical replacement.

• Conduct an alternative analysis as prescribed by the draft regulation and provide the CA DTCS with a date as to when the alternative analysis will be completed.

• If the manufacturer determines there is not a “safer” alternative, the manufacturer would be required to conduct an alternative analysis every two years.

• Even if an alternative chemical is identified and used, it will be subject to the same criteria if listed on the chemicals of concern lists.

• It should be noted that all chemicals of concern will eventually be put on a timetable to be banned (2-20 Years) regardless if a safe alternative can be found.

BR: And California’s Green Chemistry bill would cover everything manufactured in California?
FH: No – it would apply to everything offered for sale in California – wherever it’s manufactured. The only exemption is for consumer products that are available in California for the sole purpose of redistribution, sale or lease outside of California

BR: When would it go into effect?
FH: California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control is planning to put the final draft guidelines out by the first quarter of 2010 with an implementation date of 2011.

BR: Will the Green Chemistry bill impact the carpet industry? How much?
FH: The regulations that will come in response to AB 1879 will significantly add to the cost of doing business in California. As it is currently outlined, there is no way a manufacturer will be able to comply without incurring significant expense. Manufacturing jobs in California will most likely be lost due to this legislation. While the carpet industry will not be affected as much some other industries, there is no doubt it will affect us. CRI will continue to monitor and work with manufacturers to try and make sure the regulations that come out of this process are based on reason, sound science and are the least intrusive they can be.

Thank you, Frank.


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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

CARE Stories From Carpet and Rug Institute Blog

Carpet America Recovery EffortTo all my friends at Carpet America Recovery Effort, better known as CARE,

Since one in every six blog posts James and I have written for the Carpet and Rug Institute Blog this year has mentioned CARE or had CARE as its main topic, perhaps we should change the name of the blog! In any case, the following links will take you to blog posts of most interest to the carpet recycling community.

+ CARE Webinar: AB 2398 California Carpet Recycling Bill - added 12/14/10
+ GeoHay Recycled Carpet Helps Preserve Darter Fish - added 11/16/10

+ CARE's Jeremy Stroop: 40 Under 40 in Georgia Trend Magazine - added 10/12/10

+ SMARTer Textiles & Carpet Industry Sustainability - added 9/14/10

+ Recycled Carpet Preserves National Parks - Added 9/9/10

+ Carpet Industry does 'CARE' and Recycle: Werner Braun - Added 8/12/10

+ Carpet Recycling in Crain's New York Business: Sean Ragiel, Carpet Cycle - Added 8/3/10

+ Recycle, Recover, Reuse Carpet: Werner Braun - Added 7/22/10

+ Recycled Carpet Protects Florida Coast From Oil - Added 6/22/10

+ New Board Members at CARE - added 5/27/10

+ CARE News: Carpet Recycling Leaders & A Good Year! - added 5/25/10

+ Earth Day, Carpet Recycling, and California - added 4/22/10

+ ReSource Members Join CARE Aligned Dealer Program - added 3/9/10

+ CARE's Jeremy Stroop in Carpet Pie Fight - added 1/28/10

+ Starnet Members & CARE Aligned Dealer Program - added 1/12/10

+ CRI and CARE Attend GreenBuild 2009 - added 11/19/09

+ Jennifer Mendez talks about extended producer responsibility legislation

+ CARE’s Jeremy Stroop walks the walk, and talks the talk
+ A profile of Carpet Recycling UK’s Kate Chappell

+ Frank Hurd addresses Carpet Recycle UK and meets Prince Charles

+ Bethany Richmond refers LA designer to LA Fibers for recycling help

+ A profile of Kruse Recycling’s Kasey Kruse

+ The 2008 CARE conference re-cap in pictures

+ A profile of CARE’s Georgina Sikorski

+ Detailed account of business transacted at CARE annual conference

+ CARE 2008 award winners

We will add to this list as we publish additional stories.

Every time I go to a CARE meeting, I get so many more ideas – if you have an idea for something you’d like to see written about on the CRI (and CARE) blog, please let me know! That’s what I am here for.

Sustainably yours,


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