Through participatory interviews, Waterloo hub researchers continue to engage with local SMEs to try and understand shifting transformational change within those SMEs and how they can be of benefit to communities and wider business eco-systems. To this end, one of the latest enterprises we have engaged with is VeriForm.
VeriForm is a small metal fabricating company, established in 1997 by Paul Rak in Cambridge, ON. They manufacture custom parts primarily for the mining, forestry, and machine building sectors, according to ISO 9000:2015 Quality Management System standards. VeriForm is also Canada’s fourth company to become ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems certified and importantly, their vision is to be an industry leader by being the greenest metal fabricating company in the region, and the organization operates according to its three overarching core values of: Community, Sustainability, and Education.
As President and Owner of VeriForm, Paul Rak drives their sustainability activities and their story began back in 2006, with the birth of his daughter and the release of An Inconvenient Truth. Both events had a significant impact on Paul and influenced his desire to take immediate action against climate change. By initially streamlining operational processes, VeriForm had reduced its natural gas consumption, which in turn reduced overall greenhouse gas emissions. With more efficient processes, VeriForm made significant cost savings, which allowed them to invest in more energy efficient equipment and implement 37 different energy saving projects throughout the following years. They even sought additional structure and stability around their sustainability practices by joining external groups such as Sustainable Waterloo Region (a not-for-profit organization that helps Waterloo Region enterprises achieve carbon, water, and waste reductions) and in March of 2009, Paul founded a subsidiary of VeriForm, VeriGreen, which offered products and services based on the energy efficiency and carbon reduction projects that VeriForm had implemented. To date, VeriForm has undertaken over 100 energy efficiency projects and upgrades which is a fantastic milestone that showcases the true sustainability potential of SMEs!
Continuing to innovative and implement sustainable practises has allowed VeriForm to double their profits annually, expand the building and the business (even while reducing GHG emissions), and be resilient in the face of recessions. Safety in the plant has increased as machines are cleaner and running more efficiently. Paul also finds that staff are happier and healthier and that turnover has been reduced dramatically, as sustainability practices combined with employee wellbeing practices have increased staff morale. In all, Veriform are a fantastic example of SMEs opting for more sustainable business models and it was a pleasure working with them!