Sustainability Beyond Profit: Cascade Engineering

Profit. There is no denying that profit is what fuels a business’ success. Profit is the bottom line. But it does not work alone. That was the “aha” moment for Cascade Engineering of Grand Rapids. Why should a company have only one focus when there is so much more involved in running a successful business beyond profit? So, nearly ten years ago, Cascade Engineering implemented a “Triple Bottom Line” strategy – people, planet, profit.

Sustainability has become their passion. And they do it well. It is more than a paragraph in a business plan. You can see it in everything they do. They launched The Pink Cart project, an innovative collaboration between Cascade and the American Cancer Society to build awareness and raise money for breast cancer research. “The Pink Cart is poised to transform America’s curbside palette, providing an innovative way to get involved in raising awareness about a disease that continues to take an enormous toll on women’s health,” Joanne Perkins, General Manager of Cascade Cart Solutions business unit, said in a statement about the program. Cascade also launched a global safe water program that expanded the distribution of their innovative HydroAir BioSand water filter to developing countries that need clean water.

Cascade’s triple bottom line strategy was a vital part of their success in handling the economic crisis. They continued to get new business and produce new products because of cost savings in other areas of business, such as waste disposal. Sustainability has become a necessary strategy for a business to thrive.

“Sustainability practices can drive investment in the right new products, adjusting the supply chain to a greener business model or working to reduce wasted resources at all levels of a business.” Gary Anglebrandt of Crain’s Detroit reported on a panel about sustainability they co-hosted with U of M Dearborn. “Views on the business impact of sustainability have changed. The four panelists said businesses that do not have sustainability as some part of their overall strategy put themselves at risk. Not only are there plentiful business opportunities, but many customers are demanding it.”

Not only are they changing the way their company views success, they want to share their success with any other company that wants to change as well. So they created an entire branch of their business, Quest Sustainable Solutions, dedicated to consulting other companies in the development of the Triple Bottom Line and promoting sustainable practices.

Cascade has unquestionably taken their passion for sustainability to a new level. It is a theme that is resonated throughout their company culture as well as their business ventures. It is this dedication to a cause beyond profit that has helped them carve a name for themselves in the engineering industry.


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