Greening an Iconic Brand with Patrón Tequila’s John Paul DeJoria

November 1, 2013

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From the Green Is Good Archives

Originally aired on November 1, 2013

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John Shegerian: Welcome back to Green is Good, and we’re so honored to have on with us today again, back for his second visit, John Paul DeJoria. Welcome to Green is Good, John Paul.

John Paul DeJoria: John, thank you so much and you are right, John. Green is definitely good.

John: Well, you are one of the people, really one of the few people, who really kicked off and launched and continue to drive the green revolution and we talked about Patrón last time you were on. You just won a big award. Talk a little bit about the award you just won.

John Paul DeJoria: Sure. There’s an organization. It’s called Green Business Site and the Green Business Award was an award that’s given out to individuals or companies that promote green and they did that because of John Paul Selects, which is a website that, in order to get on it, you have to be sustainable. You cannot use slave labor and you have to give back in one way or another and the site promotes also all the various things that you can do — this is very interesting — all the things you could do to be green and make more money being green and why green is extremely profitable so we’re very, very pleased through our John Paul Selects to be able to receive that award and it was the award of the year for helping out entrepreneurs that are green be sustainable and have a voice, have a place to present their products, have somebody that sells their product or represents it, whether it’s over the internet or whether it’s through actual stores or chain groups, help them promote their businesses. It’s kind of a revolutionary thing so we’re so proud to receive that. I might want to mention to you, John, too and to your listeners that we found that being green is great but there are times that you could even be greater. Can I give you an example?

John: Yeah, absolutely.

John Paul DeJoria: John, about four years ago, we went through this, let’s call it an economic challenge. I said even though we’re pretty green there over at John Paul Mitchell systems or Paul Mitchell warehouses, let’s go in there to our big offices and our big warehouses and can we get any greener? Especially with power since we’re all going through a little bit of an energy, shall we say, rise in prices and let’s try and reduce the use. Anyways, long story short, they went in there and we’re pretty green to start with. Within three months, they found ways to lower our energy bill by another 25%. That’s enormous. Now because of doing things like this, not only could we reduce our energy bill and, of course, reduce whatever carbon is used on the planet here to make it more carbon neutral, but it allows us as a company never to cut back on any of our fringe benefits. During these last four years, a lot of people cut back on fringe benefits for their staff. We didn’t cut back on anything, including profit sharing, but going green and things of this nature really help out. They definitely help out and people should know that it doesn’t really cost more to go green. If you really look at it, in most cases, you can end up saving money.

John: That’s so interesting. You know, most people think it costs more to go green but you’re making the point that actually, it brings more value back to the company so the investment actually has a huge ROI.

John Paul DeJoria: Oh, John, that’s correct. Little things that came up, I was amazed. In our rooms, whether it’s bathrooms or certain rooms, there’s an automatic switch that detects you when you’re in there. When you leave, the lights automatically go off. Well, that was part of the tremendous savings that we went through. A whole bunch of little things added up to be one big thing.

John: You know, John Paul, everyone knows you for Paul Mitchell and again, I’m going to throw it out there,, but also, a lot of people don’t know and the last time you were on the show, we talked about it. You also own Patrón and that was a very sustainable company from the beginning and as you pointed out earlier about John Paul Selects and the Green Business Bureau award that you won. I want people to go to that site too. It’s Let’s go and just talk about these three platforms. Sustainable practices at your company. So let’s just, for instance, talk about Patrón for a second and what makes that a green company.

John Paul DeJoria: You bet. We started out green in 1989. The gentleman that co-founded the company with me and I made sure that our bottles of Patrón were made out of recycled glass. It helps clean up the streets of Guadalajara and other parts of Mexico. At the same time, it’s just good to recycle, as we all know. Well, it was such a great idea, as the company grew and grew, and today it’s the number one ultra premium tequila in the world, we said why change our values? Let’s stay the same way so at Patrón, every bottle of Patrón is made with recycled glass and we do about 25-plus million bottles a year. In addition to that, we’ve put in programs and practices. At our facility down in Mexico where we make the Patrón, we put in units, and it cost us several million dollars to clean distill it. When you’re done making it, people sometimes just dump it straight into the ground and it pollutes the water tables so we put equipment in and spent a lot of money doing it to clean the water so good- distillage, I should say, that comes out when you’re making tequila- so well that we can reuse some of the water in our gardens down there and then what is completely left, we use as fertilizer — it’s that clean — as fertilizer to grow the new agave plants. It really works out so going green not only helped the land out. It made us feel good. Now, do we have to do this, John? Absolutely not. It’s not required but we did it because it was the thing to do and hopefully, be an example to all the other tequila companies. You’d do the same. You don’t have to do it but hey, it helps the land, it helps out the people, and you know, it’s good.

John: Got it, and on JP Selects, as you pointed out earlier, you’re carrying all sustainable products on it. I’m on the site right now and it’s all products that you selected that are the world’s choice in sustainability.

John Paul DeJoria: Correct. On John Paul Selects, it has to be something in our product that is sustainable and our feeling there was that if we started out with a website that if you get on it, especially for all the things we do for you on that, to get on that website, if something in your product must be sustainable, and you give back, whether financially, you or your company with your time to make the world a better place to live, other companies will see well, wow, if they’re doing it successfully, maybe we should do the same thing. Maybe we should be a little bit sustainable. We’ve had some pretty good size companies wanting to go on our site, very good size companies, and we turned them down because they weren’t sustainable or they weren’t really giving back so it’s a combination of things to make the world a better place to live in. A lot of us in the ’60s that thought we would change things had no money and no influence and sometimes, people would say, ‘They’ll never get anywhere,’ but today, we are now getting into positions of influence and we have a little bit of money so we can change the planet for future generations and we’ve been doing it.

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John: Again, in 1989, when you launched Patrón, and did it in recycled bottles, it was way before the green revolution and the sustainability revolution really took off so you’ve been doing it for all the right reasons from the heart from the beginning, which leads me now to something we didn’t talk about last time you were on our show, which you just launched recently, your own philanthropic organization, Grow Appalachia, so talk a little bit about why you’ve launched it and what it’s actually doing.

John Paul DeJoria: You bet. That’s through my Peace, Love, and Happiness Family Foundation and what it is is this: We realized that throughout Appalachian Mountain Area- that’s eastern Kentucky through Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, oh my god, North Carolina, South Carolina, a little bit of Georgia, that whole area going up there, that in those Appalachian Mountains are about 150,000 families that are unemployed on food stamps and substance from our government. They did not want to be there but for example, you take one of these big coal companies, like Messi Coal, that takes a mountaintop off. They do it in these big machines. Well, those big machines, Bobby Kennedy told me, replace 175 jobs so here’s these great people, our people on America. We help everybody throughout the world and at least in our foundation but let’s just settle for those in America so I took Appalachia and what we did was this: We partnered up with Berea College. A fellow named David Cook, who now works with me full time during this project, teamed up with us. I spent all the money. We paid for it ourselves, not just for staff, but for the equipment. For example, there’s a farm of 20 to 30 people. We’ll buy a used tractor but the equipment that’s necessary, the seeds or irrigation, whatever it takes, and the education to grow on your own. Number one was this: The first goal was grow your own vegetables. Feed you and your family and anyone around you that’s destitute and can for the winter. This way, you have food year round. Second was this: Once you’ve done that, grow more the next year. Sell the overage to farmers’ markets and local grocery stores as organically grown local produce and start creating an income and then teach at least two to three families near you how to do what we taught you how to do. I’ll buy their seeds or whatever they need to do that with or maybe share your tools with them and this way, one family could affect two to three more so we got 40 or 50,000 families. They immediately have 150,000 families. Well, we’ve been underway with this now for almost going on three years. Already 10,000 people are eating off their own gardens. An amazing thing happens too, John, is when you eat your own vegetable, you eat them and when your body has that kind of nutrition, it doesn’t say feed me, feed me, feed me, and then you shove whatever you can in your mouth just because you’re hungry because your mouth doesn’t say to you or your stomach doesn’t say I need some broccoli or I need some carrots. It doesn’t tell you. It just says I’m lacking something. Once vegetables are in there, especially the one you grow, or fruits are in there, your body no longer craves this. Automatically their weight goes down. Their energy goes up. It’s just an amazing thing what food does.

John: How big can that grow? That’s a fascinating and fast scaling, 10,000 families, so where do you think that’s going to grow?

John Paul DeJoria: We will definitely in the next five years get most of Appalachia but I’ve already started little programs in other places. Other than, of course, overseas, I started one in Austin, Texas helping start one over there and we’re looking at wherever it’s needed. Why not help families help themselves? This is not charity, John. It’s helping good Americans giving them a chance to help themselves. In fact, some of the new Paul Mitchell ads that are coming are going to talk about we Americans have this opportunity to help other Americans help themselves and again, we do it in Africa through Paul Mitchell, Patrón, and other companies. We do it in Mexico. We do it in Asia. We thought we’d do it here in our country. Our motto is, “Success unshared is failure”.

John: Well, that’s what I was just going to get to. We have three and a half minutes left and I wanted to get to that to put an exclamation point on this segment with you because what does that mean to you and how have you implemented that in your life? Because to me, you’re one of my inspirations, John Paul, and explain success unshared is failure.

John Paul DeJoria: You bet. I come, as you know from my background, from absolutely nothing. Started Paul Mitchell hair care 33 years ago with $700 and lived in my car so I’ve been down there where I’ve had little to nothing and then I’ve been there where I have something. Well, if you have something in life and you’re blessed to have some good things, be it The Good Lord blessing you or call it The Force, whatever you want to call it. I’ll call it The Good Lord for now. You’re blessed. All of a sudden, these things come your way. Yes, you have to work hard for them. They’re not handed it to you but you have this abundance. Well, once you have enough to take care of yourself and your family, I think it’s everybody’s responsibility to do something while we’re alive and living in these bodies on this planet to make the planet a better place to live while you are here for existing generations and future generations. It’s kind of like paying rent for being on the planet earth and paying rent a little bit for all the good stuff that comes your way and if you’re very successful and you’re taking care of your family and you’re not sharing with others, that’s not success. It’s failure. Now, do we do everything? No, we can’t. We get hundred of requests to do things and we can’t do it all but we sure do a lot to try and do the greatest amount for the greatest number of people. It may mean we turn down a lot of individual requests for things but we go more for the groups where we’re already involved, which is little children, battered kids, battered women, neglected people, orphans, feeding a nation in certain areas that just need that. That’s who we go for.

John: Folks who have typically been marginalized in society, you really help them pick themselves up.

John Paul DeJoria: And, we do it on a large scale, not on an individual basis, but the large scale helps many out. For example, we just came back from Kentucky and visited this one home for abused women and children and the biggest thing they loved was the garden we had going for them there. They got to work in the garden every day and whatever they sold out of the garden, they all got to share it among themselves so here these abused people have a little bit of an income too. It makes them feel better.

John: You know, we’re down to the last minute. Can you share back with the young entrepreneurs across the world that listen to this show and want inspiration? Obviously, your success is an inspiration but share back with them some one or two key points about just getting in there and making a business happen for themselves.

John Paul DeJoria: Sure. This is a great idea. I’ll do it really quickly. First of all, when you give the way we give, it makes you feel good. That’s the best thing. It makes you feel good, Two things for new successful entrepreneurs: Number one is this: Be prepared for a lot of rejection. You’re going to get it. Be prepared for a lot of rejection and don’t let it overtake you because you’re prepared for it. Example: You knock on 10 doors. They slam them in your face. On door number 11, be just as enthusiastic as you were on door number one or on door number 300. It’s a matter of keeping that spirit going and if you’re ready for rejection or something went wrong, you know you’re going to overcome it. Don’t give up. Obstacles are going to pop up in your way but there’s a way around them. Remember that. Also, successful people do all the things unsuccessful people don’t want to do, whether it’s working late, whether it’s never giving up when doors are slammed in your face or people say no. It’s just go, go, go. America still works, John.

John: You know, the world needs more John Paul DeJorias. Go to his website to learn more about what he’s doing,,, and John Paul DeJoria, you are an unparalleled sustainability superstar and truly living proof that green is good.