We started with a simple objective: to create green jobs for refugees and others in our community who needed safe, meaningful, and rewarding employment.
Creating Green Jobs
In 2001, we began by consulting the experts. The Charlottesville, VA office of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) helped us understand the workplace needs of IRC's refugee clients. We started a small manufacturing company, accessible by public transportation, with flexible hours, training for non-English speakers, decent benefits, and living wages.
To create green manufacturing jobs, we needed to make green products. We became an FSC®-certified chain-of-custody provider before we shipped our first product in 2002. (FSC-C019049). Sustainable forestry certification enabled us to formalize our commitment to the environment and be confident about the sources of our raw materials. Working with FSC's third-party certifier, SCS Global Services (SCS), we received our FSC chain-of-custody certification in January 2002, months before we shipped our first product.
We still partner with IRC, FSC, and SCS today, and are deeply grateful to them for their support.
Designing Products with our Planet in Mind
Our original plan was to make FSC-certified corporate gifts, small items that could be hand crafted by recently-arrived non-English speakers. Within months of opening, a prospective customer asked us to make plaques. We gave it a shot. The customer liked them, so we made more. Today, we design and build plaques and awards for customers in 48 states and Canada. We enable our customers to honor our planet as they honor others, and we love our work.
Without the burden of legacy products or practices, we have been free to define our work and our outputs according to our own sense of what is best for customers and the environment. In addition to FSC-certified wood, we have added other planet-friendly materials to our portfolio. We've also established solid supply-chain partnerships to help us design and create beautiful products.
Reaffirming Our Stakeholder Commitments
In 2011, we had the opportunity to reaffirm our values and our commitments to our stakeholders. On July 1, Benefit Corporation legislation became effective in our home state of Virginia. To support the legislation, we amended our Articles of Incorporation that same day, becoming one of Virginia's first Benefit Corporations.
Virginia law requires that an independent third party certifier review each Benefit Corporation to determine the firm's commitment to making an impact. At Rivanna, we chose the nonprofit organization B Lab as our certifier. B Lab scrutinizes companies applying for Certified B Corp status against their rigorous definition of what makes a responsible business. Companies must demonstrate a concern for the impact of their decisions on their employees, suppliers, community, consumers, and environment. Rivanna completed the B Lab Impact Assessment in July 2011 and was approved for certification that same month after formal review by B Lab. In 2013 and 2015 and 2017, we were recertified. We are deeply grateful to B Lab and to our B Corp Community, not only for generously sharing best practices, but for inspiring and guiding us to be a better company. When we started this great adventure over a decade ago, most everyone thought we were, at best, misguided tree huggers. Life was a little lonely. Today, we are part of a growing community of like-minded businesses and social entrepreneurs who see business as a force for good and who work, every day, to do a better job for their stakeholders. There has never been a better time to be in business.
Promoting and Celebrating a Greener Future
We believe products that express gratitude, reward performance, and celebrate excellence should harm neither the planet nor the people who create, purchase, or receive them. Over the past eighteen years, we've done our best to introduce fresh thinking and elegant award designs while upholding our commitment to our planet and community. As we look ahead, we plan to create more elegant, innovative products and strive to deliver the best service imaginable. With the help of our extraordinary and inspiring customers, suppliers, fellow B Corps, friends and fans, we will do our utmost to create more green jobs and find better ways to give back.
Founder & CEO