Since 2012, Zach Coss has been successfully planning and managing Spread Group’s operations in Greensburg, Pennsylvania as Director of Operations. In that time, his team has grown to 110 employees and has been able to optimize its processes to the point where items are produced in under six minutes instead of twelve, and their quality is steadily improving.
The decisive factor for his application to the Spread Group nine years ago was the Spreadshirt website, which had sparked his interest in the products, the organization and its processes – a decision that the industrial engineer and business economist has not had cause to regret. Zack and his team are now tackling the important issue of sustainability at the Greensburg site with their trademark efficiency.
Spread Group: How do you define sustainability for yourself?
Zach Coss: Sustainability to me is using just what I need, and doing what I can to reuse things and reduce consumption, being mindful to leave my space better than I found it for the next person.
Spread Group: What motivates you to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
Zach Coss: The existence of the Great Pacific Garbage patch makes me sad about the condition we’re leaving the world in for future generations. So I try to personally buy local, carry my own reusable bag rather than plastic, I recycle as much as I can, and try to reduce my energy consumption and landfill waste at home. I try to avoid single use plastics, and buy used items when I can. Additionally, I get my home energy through local solar and wind generators, and I have really insulated my home and upgraded things to conserve energy. I would love to live in an area where I could walk or bike to more things. Unfortunately where I live that’s not feasible.
Spread Group: What sustainable projects have you and your team already implemented?
Zach Coss: The team here is very mindful of energy use and recycling. We try to recycle all of our ink containers, our cardboard, soda cans etc. Our lighting in the production hall has all been switched over to LED.
We have motion sensors that turn of lights in rooms when they aren’t being used. We regularly donate our T-shirts from returns or, if they have a personal imprint or company logos, we process them directly into insulation wool in order to recycle them. Lastly, we collect our used waste ink and have it collected for sustainable disposal rather than just dumping it down the drains.
Spread Group: What specific sustainability goals have you set for your team?
Zach Coss: We’re currently looking at moving our operation to a new building. I’ve already been discussing sustainability options with the potential new property managers. The team is really interested in more motion sensing switches, LED lighting, and more recycling initiatives. I’m hoping to find a builder that is LEED certified in the US, and we will definitely plan for a well-insulated building to conserve energy use. I would like to set up a small garden to keep some natural elements around the facility, utilizing rainwater. Everyone here is excited about our company’s drive to use more sustainable product packaging, so we’ve been eagerly testing options in production. My ultimate goal would be to follow the path of Subaru and Porsche and have a zero-waste facility.
Spread Group: What do you recommend to all readers who would like to further explore the topic of “sustainability”?
Zach Coss: Be more mindful of your activities. What you purchase, what you waste, how your actions will affect other living things. This is something I’m sure we could all do more of. We have a beautiful planet with everything we need – but we really waste so many resources needlessly.
As a resource, I’d also recommend the magazine and website for Scientific American, which has a lot of good writeups on sustainability, from products to whole corporation’s efforts on sustainability.
Spread Group: Thanks so much for the interview, Zach.