Implementing Corporate Sustainability Fleetwide with Enterprise Holdings’ Lee Broughton

July 25, 2011

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good, and we’re so honored today to have with us Lee Broughton. Lee is the Head of Corporate Responsibility at Enterprise Holdings. Welcome to Green is Good, Lee. LEE BROUGHTON: Thank you very much, John. Great to be here. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You know, Lee, you have a very, very important position where you are, and we’re so honored to have you because you’re very busy. You’re the Director of Corporate Identity and Sustainability at Enterprise Holdings, and that is a massive job. We’re going to tell our listeners a little bit more about what you’re doing there, but before we do that, what we love to do when we have green leaders like you on our show, we want you to share your journey and your bio with our listeners, rather than us, because it’s so amazing how you got to where you are today. We’d rather you share the journey to your position now. LEE BROUGHTON: Sure. Thanks for the opportunity. I’m sure that a lot of your listeners are used to hearing very varied career paths of getting into sustainability because it’s a relatively new concept to a lot of the way business is interpreting it now. So, I think the paths of getting to it have also been well traveled. For me, I actually am a theology major. I have quite a different path altogether, and then came into business through a consultancy that was a management consultancy in London. I kind of got used to positioning companies and understanding people’s communication plans and setting some strategy for businesses. One of those companies happened to be a new company called Enterprise Rent-A-Car in the U.K. about 1998. I worked on that account for about three years, and then moved onto a law firm, and I did marketing for the law firm for a little while, but kept in touch with Enterprise in the hope that one day they may need some people internally in Europe. That day eventually arrived. I’ve kind of been in the company now for eight years, first of all setting marketing communication strategies for us in Europe, and then more recently in this role, which is a brand new role for the company. It’s about two-and-a-half years old now, where we’ve now started formulating our sustainability strategy for the worldwide corporation. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Perfect. Your office of sustainability is now about three years old, you’re saying. LEE BROUGHTON: That’s exactly right. JOHN SHEGERIAN: OK. For our listeners out there, Mike and I have our laptops open. I have my iPad open. I want to send our listeners now to your beautiful website that you sent me to a couple weeks back. It’s www.drivingfutures.com. Please, if you have your iPad or laptop open, or just write that down for later on when you’re in front of one of your electronic devices. This is one of the best sustainability websites we’ve ever seen for any global brand in the world. Lee, talk a little bit about all the amazing things you’re doing. For instance, first of all, let’s start at square one. This is a rental car company. Of course, Enterprise Holdings represents some amazing brands, Alamo, National, and of course, the flagship Enterprise brand. What is a rental car company doing and investing in sustainability? Why and how? LEE BROUGHTON: I think that’s a really important question, and it’s one that we get asked quite a bit because we are really committing ourselves to this idea. Frankly, John, it’s really about our future. We really believe that if we are going to have a successful business for another 55 years, and we’ve been in business now for 55 years, we’re only going to be able to do that if we concentrate on understanding what is economically successful, what is successful to the communities that provide the mobility and the need to be mobile, and frankly understanding our environmental impact. It’s very much about the future health of our organization. We believe that it’s about being a responsible leader, too. We’re number one in the rental car industry, pretty much every way you would look at it. With leadership comes responsibility, and we feel that that’s kind of another kind of reason that we wanted it beyond simply about the health of our organization, to kind of reinvest and understand what sustainability means for us. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Let’s step back. This corporate sustainability office has been under your careful stewardship now. You’ve been at the wheel, no pun intended, for approximately three years at this. Talk a little bit about your initiatives. You have some unique and wonderful initiatives that all relate back to the triple bottom line, the old adage, the triple bottom line. What, under your stewardship, does triple bottom line mean at Enterprise Holdings, Lee? LEE BROUGHTON: I think, very succinctly, we believe that a sustainable community is going to mean a sustainable business. So, the things that we’re doing to engineer those sorts of things are the way in which we framed what projects take priority. As an example, in 2007, as we began to think about celebrating and commemorating 50 years in business, we wanted to do something that thanked our customers for keeping us in business for such a long time, and thank our employee base for the loyalty and the fact that they’ve kept us successful too. That is where we began thinking about this idea of conservation. Conservation, for us, is a number of different things, but it was kicked off with a pledge to plant 50 million trees over 50 years in national parks with a public-private partnership between the Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service. That kind of gives you the idea of how big we think, but also how it links to the fact that nature is important for a sustainable community, and a sustainable community is important to Enterprise to ensure its sustainability. So, the whole thing is kind of connected, although it may feel a little bit like, what’s a rental car company doing planting trees? Well, for us, reforestation is a big issue to communities. California suffers from many, many natural fires and disasters, where it wreaks havoc on the forests. Forests are intrinsic to the supply chain providing our drinking water. Things like that, that’s kind of the way that we’re beginning to think. There are other initiatives as well, which on Driving Futures you can get into and see that perhaps are a bit more obvious to our business, like the way we build our branches or energy efficiency or things like that. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wonderful. Again, for our listeners out there, you have to check out Lee’s amazing site that they’ve built for Enterprise Holdings. It’s www.drivingfutures.com. It’s so well done, and it’s very inspirational and it’s very clear on all these great initiatives. Talk a little bit about the customers, your clients, those who then get into your cars. How are you engaging them? Because that’s always tricky for all brands, and you’re no different because you have a great touch on customers, and it’s a very personal touch. What is the engagement that you’ve outlined, and what’s your vision, and how is it working, Lee? LEE BROUGHTON: That’s a really important question, and I think, as you said, a lot of businesses are at this stage now where they’re thinking about wanting to engage their customer in some of this conversation. For us, we’ve centralized it around these three themes — legacy, foresight and innovation. It’s being able to create a simple enough idea that can be easily communicated to a customer base that can understand some of these larger things that are going on, so that when they’re making a purchase, obviously you don’t make a purchase, necessarily, with thinking around driving futures or perhaps legacy, foresight, innovation. But what we’re trying to do is help a customer feel like they are being a part of something that is bigger than just a transaction that they have purchased for that particular day’s rental. We’re using the normal channels, whether it’s advertising, whether it’s the website, social media, to get this message out. We’re really at the beginning of it. Frankly, we’ve kind of been in our various hiding places, making sure that it’s an integrated concept within the business, it’s not just a public relations exercise. The business is really benefitting from this approach, so that now that we feel we’re being able to get all of those things in line, that we can actually now come out to our customer base and say, “What do you guys think about what we’re doing? Do you believe it? Do you want more of it?” We’re starting to have those conversations, and frankly, it’s very interesting. There is a lot of interest, and I think that you can see that when you see all the buzz around the electric vehicles, for example. That’s a huge piece of what we’re doing to drive the future, is investing alternative technology and ensure we’re a significant piece in the value chain of bringing electric vehicles to market, bringing electric hybrids. Another example would be the shuttle buses that your listeners are on when they’re going from the terminal to the rental office. Those shuttle buses are, for us, powered by biodiesel. We have an institute of renewable fuels that’s looking at research into biofuel technology in the future, and we think that algae, for example, could be quite an important opportunity for us in terms of the way we’re fueling our cars with biofuel. JOHN SHEGERIAN: There’s so much to talk about. Let’s go back. Let’s just step one step back because you have so many wonderful initiatives here. Talk a little bit about your alternative vehicles. How is the integration of hybrids and the EVs going into your fleet? Is it 1% of your fleet? Is it 0.5%? Is it 10%? How is that roll-out going, and what is your client base saying about it? LEE BROUGHTON: We made, a year ago, an announcement that we were going to buy 500 Nissan Leafs, which are the first full electric vehicle on the market right now. That was the biggest commitment to date. We’ve been taking delivery of those the last six months, and they are being delivered around markets that mirror where Nissan itself is rolling out those vehicles. So, it’s not kind of a ubiquitous opportunity all over the country; it’s only in seven markets today. In those markets, our locations are taking delivery and our customers are going crazy about it. It’s a great thing to see. It’s obviously a big deal. It’s clearly a line in the sand of where transportation is transitioning into 21st century ideas. There’s a lot of interest. Companies are wanting to ensure that their employees can get to drive them. We’re seeing demand for extended test drives before customers think about purchasing them. They are more expensive than their same sized equivalent fossil fuel engine vehicles, so you might want to test drive it for a week or two first to see whether you actually want to invest. We’re seeing a lot of interest on that level. So, there’s a number of really, really great things that we feel that we a part of, driving that future. MIKE BRADY: Lee, is there a particular part of the country where the interest in the Nissan Leaf is a little higher than average? LEE BROUGHTON: Generally, I think, from what we have heard, we’re seeing interest and inquiry all across the country. The marketing program that Nissan itself has worked around is really around the two coasts for the most part, East and West, but it’s predominantly on the West. A couple of other places, like Phoenix and part of Texas and then a bit further up into Seattle and Oregon. There is lots of conversation about New York and down the East Coast as well, but predominantly those markets. Their hometown is Nashville, and so that’s going to be there as well. But, actually, the interest is everywhere, Mike, and that’s the thing that’s kind of getting everyone very excited. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Do you see the momentum of the EVs and other transportation alternatives? What do you feel about that? Do you feel that that momentum is going to be continuing to grow in velocity over the next 10 years, Lee? What’s your visibility on that? What’s your thoughts on that? LEE BROUGHTON: I think that it will. I think that you’ve got a number of things playing into it. I think there’s a great desire to see stability off our energy from foreign countries. I think that you’ve got a desire through CAFE ratings, the corporate average fuel economy thing that the EPA has come up with for Obama, that’s going to kick into play in a couple of years time where it will drive the mpgs up of vehicles that are being made. I think you’ve got everyone being much more cognizant and conscious of the environmental impact that the vehicles are having. I think in the next 5-10 years, what you’ll see is there will definitely be an increase in alternative vehicles on the market. I don’t think we’re anywhere in the sand now where you can see the fossil fuel engine being less of a majority. That’s not going to happen, but the stance that we’ve taken, the largest purchaser of vehicles in the world, is that we’re fuel agnostic. We want to provide what our customers want to drive, and therefore, we feel it’s very important to invest in these new technologies to ensure that they hit the economy scale to make them appealing, then our customers have the choice of whether they would like to drive them or not. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Right. Lee, you and your team have done a marvelous job with your website. For those who are just joining us, we’ve got Lee Broughton on from Enterprise Holdings. He’s the Director of Corporate Identity and Sustainability. Go to his website, www.drivingfutures.com. Lee, we’re on the website now, and again, it’s so inspirational in that you’ve got beautiful videos on it. On the page where it says Our Cultural Compass, that’s such a nice way of framing this whole thing, our cultural compass. On the left-hand side, for our listeners out there that don’t have your laptop or iPad open, it says Legacy, Foresight, and Innovation. You’ve got 68,000+ employees at Enterprise Holdings. Talk a little bit about legacy, foresight, and innovation not with regards to your clients right now, with regards to your cultural compass and your DNA, and how it affects your employees and how you’re driving sustainability inside of the company and creating goals that are measurable inside of your company. LEE BROUGHTON: That’s a great question. Thanks. What we’ve done is we’ve crafted a story that is very accessible for our employee base, too, because it’s obviously critical that everyone is working towards the same direction. Our cultural compass represents how we do our business in the community. Under legacy, legacy is kind of the who we are as an organization, the fact that we’re owned by a family that has kept us private since the inception of the organization in the late 1950s. It is about the fact that we are financially stable, that we really vested around ensuring that our people are the best in our industry, and that’s kind of the who we are. The foresight is this idea of how we do our business. It’s the fact that our cultural compass represents things like diversity and inclusion, workplace quality, business ethics, public affairs, the environment and conservation. That’s our approach once we’re in the branch of our employees and how they interact with their customer base in the community around there. Innovation is this idea of where we’re going as an organization, the things that we believe are going to be important to us as a company to keep us relevant and ahead of the game over the next 50 years. The way that we are able to tell our employees about that, it’s simply help them remember legacy, foresight, and innovation. With those things, they become hopefully really vested in this journey themselves, and feel that they understand what they’re influencing every day in the location, as they’re helping the customer around the car, or whatever it happens to be. In terms of goals that the organization has set, the 70,000 employees plus, what we’ve done is we’ve made 2015 as the kind of first thing that we’re all trying to get to in the company. In 2015, there’s lots of things that we want to see happen. The shuttle buses that I mentioned are powered on biodiesel today. We want to ensure that all of them are 20% B-20 biodiesel. At the moment, the majority are only B-5, so we believe that that’s very important. We want to see our energy in our locations, the natural resources that we use to power our locations themselves, reduced in usage by 20% over the next five years. We have also made a commitment to ensuring that our locations are retrofitted, or the new ones are built from the ground up, using our internal rating system, the Enterprise Sustainable Construction Protocol. We’re investing more than $150 million in that over the next four years now. Over the summer, we will be producing our very first sustainability report that will give our stakeholders an understanding of where we are one year on, on that 2015 journey. So, that is just a flavor of some of them. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Amazing. Unbelievable. From green building to alternative fuels. I want to talk about, in the last three or four minutes here, two very unique programs. I was so inspired when I met you personally. I had the honor to meet you a couple weeks back in Washington, DC, and I was so inspired by your passion and your vision of what you’re doing at Enterprise Holdings. I did more homework on all this stuff, and I’ve been on your website three or four times. Talk a little bit, for our listeners, two fascinating programs you’re working on, your WeCar car sharing program and I also want to talk about your universal lubricants program. Can you share a little bit with our listeners about those two wonderful new programs? LEE BROUGHTON: Yeah, great. WeCar is our automated car rental. Most people understand it as car sharing. That is a brand that we launched as part of our Enterprise Rent-A-Car retail brand. What we do is work with corporations, universities, municipalities, and we provide them with the ability to use automation in their rentals. Say a university campus has a group of students on it that don’t have their own personal vehicles, necessarily, but they need to run errands or do whatever they need to do. Then they can use WeCar. Similarly, a corporation that wants to reduce its fleet of pooled vehicles and replaces them with a couple of WeCars, and they are able to use the automated rental for that, either by the hour or however they want to use it. That’s something that is three years old for us now, but we’re staring to really see some great momentum there, and we’re very excited about it. The other thing you mentioned, universal lubricant, is another really cool story. Unbeknown to many, you’d think that with a fleet of vehicles, one of the areas that we saw as a great opportunity was the recycling of oil and oil filters. In terms of our service space that sit behind the rental facilities, we have a lot of vehicles that go through lubes and warranty work and all the rest of it. We saw a great opportunity to not only save some money, but do some tremendous stuff for the environment, where we ensure all of our oil filters are recycled. In selling them to companies that recycle them, we are then able to purchase back the refined oil, and so it’s kind of almost a closed loop scenario there. When we buy a brand new vehicle, the oil that we use to service that vehicle is actually recycled oil from our previous fleet. We’ve got two great partners, Universal Lubricants and Safety Clean, and together they are able to really help us service our fleet in that area. It’s saving massive amounts of emissions and is a really neat program. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That is just wonderful. We’re down to the last minute-and-a-half or so, Lee. You’ve got so much wisdom to share. I want to leave this open for you to share. There are so many young people that listen. This show doesn’t only broadcast in the United States, but after it gets uploaded on the iTunes network, we have listeners literally around the world that write to Mike and I all the time from Shanghai and from Seoul and from the U.K. and from France. I want you to share some of your wisdom because there are a lot of young people that listen to our show that say, “I want to be the next Lee Broughton.” Share your journey and any other thoughts you have on where you’ve been and where we’re going. LEE BROUGHTON: Thank you for that opportunity. I think that corporate sustainability is integral to value creation today in business. I think you’ll hear lots of conflicting thoughts around what that actually means, but ultimately, concentrating on just pure bottom line profitability is a 20th century mindset. If you look at who the successful companies are today, like Apple and Google and BYD in China, Walmart, Brazil with Hector Nunez and others, the things that are making them so successful is they have got a 21st century mindset, where they think about human enhancement, natural enhancement, social capital complementing the financial growth of the company, that sort of things. I believe that we’re going to see that in even greater levels of success going forward. In terms of people that are inspired by those ideas and wanting to get into places in their companies that are helping influence that and helping understand what that means, I actually don’t think that there is a traditional route to take anymore. I think, perhaps, in the past you may have had specialisms in marketing or specialisms in strategy or in finance. Sustainability is still being defined, and that actually gives you tremendous competitive edge if you have a discipline that is outside of the traditional norm, and then you take that specialism and try and understand it in terms of this new idea of value creation, particularly when you think about the triple bottom line. I really encourage anyone that’s kind of really wanting to pursue that as a career, because that’s certainly how I took it. I came from a traditional marketing and management consulting type of background, and I found my way into it. Often, it appears that you may come from very different backgrounds as well, so I really encourage anybody to get into it because it’s still being defined right now. JOHN SHEGERIAN: We’re so lucky, and the environment and the world is lucky, that you chose this as your next path, that you chose sustainability and you’re one of those definers of what’s happening in the sustainability world. Lee Broughton, we’re so thankful that you came on today. For our listeners out there, go to his great website, Enterprise Holding’s great website, www.drivingfutures.com. Lee Broughton, you are an inspirational sustainability leader, and truly living proof that green is good.