Finding a Better Way
President and owner, Phil Holman, explains Fourstar’s sustainability culture
Phil Holman's "Reason to Believe" in making Fourstar a sustainable brand
Explore Fourstar’s Sustainability Philosophy and Initiatives
Fourstar’s sustainability strategy is specifically focused on expanding our positive impact on the environment by collaborating with our employees, stakeholders, customers, and suppliers. We believe this is the only way we can scale our efforts to have a bigger impact on our lives, the local community, and world at large. The information here is what guides us while navigating our supply chain as a responsible electronic manufacturing services (EMS) partner and as good stewards of the planet. Read along or jump to the section that interests you most:
Fourstar for Sustainability
Founded in 1986 as a cable assembly shop, Fourstar has since grown in volume and added more capabilities to our product mix. Today, we are more than just a cable shop. It is our vision—and our commitment—to help you find a better way by providing services and solutions to tackle a wide range of manufacturing needs, all the while being acutely aware of our environmental footprint.
At Fourstar, we don’t differentiate between sustainability and social responsibility. Instead, we have adopted a "people-driven" business model focusing on how we impact the planet, starting with our own internal resources and workforce. Apart from undertaking environmentally-friendly initiatives such as the installation of a 110KW solar array, the implementation of multiple reusable packaging programs, and offering a sustainable 401(k) program Fourstar is also deeply committed to improving the overall health of our employees.
The secret to our success is having a healthy workforce. From having a weight management program that helps employees deal more effectively with stress and educating them about food and environmental toxins to avoid we are working together to create wellness on all levels for our employees. We believe in taking a holistic approach to integrating sustainability into the DNA of our company, not because it creates additional profitability and efficiency for Fourstar and our customers, but because more than anything else, it’s the right thing to do.
Establish Sustainability Baselines - Intangible KPIs
The Release of Our First Annual Corporate Sustainability Report
To further our commitment to a sustainable business model that serves our workforce, customers, community, and planet we have published our first annual corporate Sustainability Report.
Now woven innately into our business model, we continue to implement and report on programs aimed at:
Capturing key environmental performance indicator metrics essential to reporting and reducing our overall carbon footprint
Enhancing employee wellbeing
Heightening social awareness/responsibility—giving back to the community, both locally and globally
Positively impacting all stakeholders through:
The development of sustainability-focused partnerships and collaborations
Influencing sustainable design, sourcing, and manufacture
8 Benchmark Goals
Our first annual corporate Sustainability Report creates the benchmarks from which sustainability-focused programs, documentation, corresponding metrics and reporting initiate. There are 8 goals Fourstar is actively pursuing over the next few years:
Comprehensive measurement systems
Decreased dependence on fossil fuels
Decrease/optimize use of natural resources
Intensify efforts to expand customer RoHS compliance
Responsible consumption and production
Health and wellness
401(k) retirement and sustainable and impact investing
Good neighbor—responsible stewards initiatives
1. Comprehensive Measurement Systems
To create the baseline for metrics so we can calculate goals and measure benchmarks, we need to create measurement systems for many of the goals we put forth in this report. Some of the reporting structures are in place, others are in their infancy. An overarching goal is to have robust and reliable reporting and documentation systems in place to capture accurate measurements for all our sustainability initiatives as part of our standard financial statement.
2. Decreased Dependence on Fossil Fuels
We will decrease our reliance on fossil fuels over time and move towards getting 100% of our heat and power through a sustainable source. Fourstar’s goal is to decrease our carbon footprint, which starts with voluntarily filing an annual report with the Carbon Disclosure Project, with a goal of moving towards carbon neutral over time. We are beginning now to create the structure and to define the goals that we intend to achieve within three to five years. We know that this may include purchasing carbon credits, which will need to be justified as part of our overall financial plan.
3. Decrease/Optimize Use of Natural Resources
We continue to decrease our use of natural resources, which includes water usage and the amount of solid wastes we generate as a percentage of the products we build. We work with our suppliers and customers to reduce our packaging through the use of reusable packaging and/or packaging with a high post-consumer content.
4. Intensify Efforts to Increase Customer RoHS Compliance
RoHS compliance is a major regulatory requirement in our industry, mandated for shipping products into Europe. We aim to help our customers become RoHS compliant and reduce the amount of hazardous substances that go into the products we build. We want to assist all of our customers to move towards RoHS compliance even if they have no intention of shipping outside the United States. We know that the cost of being compliant has become less expensive than being non-compliant, and the positive impact on our environment is worth the effort. Our goal is to have the majority of our customers RoHS compliant. Ultimately, as we acquire new customers, we will be looking to ensure that they have a similar value system and are concerned about the impact their company has on the environment. Interestingly, when we first moved customers to compliancy, it was more expensive to become compliant. That has changed, now offering a cost-effective avenue for customers to open up to European markets.
5. Responsible Consumption and Production
We have selected SDG 12 as an overall goal for our company: responsible consumption and production. This will shape our future as we address industry-specific challenges to achieve this goal, and we will be quantifying our progress against this goal. As part of our new product introduction (NPI), design for manufacturability (DFM), and design for sustainability (DFS) consulting, we guide customers to consider the “total cost of a product” over its life-cycle. We consider how to build it, examining utility efficiencies and end-of-life costs related to disposal or reuse, rather than just unit pricing considerations.
6. Health and Wellness
We are focused on improving the overall health of our employees through pro-active health initiatives targeted to the health risks we have identified in our workforce. This is accomplished by an annual assessment, and then the roll out of targeted programs, such as weight reduction, increased physical activities, stress management, and a unique program that educates employees on toxins to avoid in food, personal, and household products. We know that a healthy workforce is more productive, and a workforce that is supported with an educational approach to improving overall health is more engaged and will be less likely to change jobs, which lowers our turnover. Millennials are also very focused on these values, so we become a more attractive employer for recruiting the best prospects by supporting these values.
7. 401(k) Retirement and Sustainable and Impact Investing
We believe that giving our employees the opportunity to make good 401(k) investment choices, as well as educating them on all aspects of their 401(k) plan, including sustainable and impact investing, enables them to make informed and empowered choices about their investments. Offering sustainable and impact investment choices is in alignment with our company values and supports our overall focus as a sustainable company. Each year we evaluate our 401(k) investment portfolio using the MVP/HIP Investor Sustainable 401(k) Know What You Own Education & Ratings Program. (HIP is an acronym for Human Impact + Profit.) The HIP Ratings process enables us to make changes to our plan to improve the access to high-performing funds that are also creating positive impact in the world. This unique education program helps participants better understand how investments and investment portfolio construction can impact their investment returns and risk—and also how their investment choices are impacting them personally through the companies they are investing in. The bestselling book, HIP Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World, written by R. Paul Herman, demonstrates and clearly conveys how intangible value and risk drivers—when measured and managed—can increase investment performance, mitigate portfolio risk, and create positive impact in the world.
8. Good Neighbors—Responsible Stewards Initiatives
Being good community members is important to us as a company. We actively encourage our employees to be good citizens and neighbors, as well. By offering multiple opportunities for our employees to give back to the community through fundraising and volunteering, our employees make an impact on the local community in helping provide money, food, and shelter. Fourstar often matches donations when sponsoring fundraisers and actively recognizes the charitable efforts of the workforce. Local organizations we support are the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Worcester, the AMVETS of Hudson, and the American Cancer Society of Massachusetts. We are supporting SDG 1: No Poverty, and SDG 2: Zero Hunger, as part of this effort. As we educate our employees, stakeholders, suppliers, and customers on sustainability initiatives, we will identify more opportunities that we can address collaboratively. We will continue to look for broader ways to impact the world around us, to make sure that we leave this planet to our children in better shape than when we started.
Just One Component of a Broader Philosophy
Fourstar’s corporate Sustainability Report is just one component of a much broader company-wide philosophy that we practice. Some of Fourstar’s other programs include employee-participation in community outreach, upgrading to higher efficiency equipment, and providing electric car charging stations.
Fourstar was awarded a first-of-its kind sustainability grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to help fund the MVP Sustainable Supply Chain Program, which focuses on sustainability, supply chain transparency, and reporting to the carbon disclosure project and other customer-requested disclosures.
As a recent recipient of the Green Manufacturing Award by the Worcester Business Journal, Fourstar was recognized for its commitment to sustainability initiatives.
Although we can’t control what others do—in personal, business, or political circles—to protect the future of the planet for our children, we are making a diligent effort to further these vital initiatives and do everything within our reach to positively impact our stakeholders, the community and the planet. We do have control over the measures we take as a company to mitigate the consequences that over-consumption of natural resources has on our planet. We are proud to be a responsible steward to our community, locally and globally. We take our responsibility as a trusted supply chain partner very seriously and hope to be role models for other businesses that want to adopt similar sustainability-focused endeavors.
People are generally aware of large multi-national corporations pursuing sustainability initiatives, but we are unique in our manufacturing sector. Aside from the benefit to the environment, we recognize that integrating sustainability practices across our reach is also good business because it has proven to increase performance, efficiency in costs, processes and resources, and ultimately result in better customer outcomes.
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