Fireclay Tile is excited to announce a new position at our Aromas factory to help our company. While we are a leader in utilizing recycled materials in our products, we feel we have room to grow in our overall manufacturing operation in becoming a recognized leader in sustainable manufacturing. Jason Paskus, who previously ran our Crush Recycled Glass factory, has taken on this new roll. We interviewed Jason to learn a bit more about him and his goals in this new role:
Tell us a bit about you and your interest in sustainability and sustainable manufacturing?
My passion for sustainability began in the early 21 century, while I was working as a carpenter for a small family owned construction company. We where known to be a very skilled group of guys that catered to the higher end of the building industry, residential and commercial. Unfortunetly, high end construction normally means larger projects, more square footage, more materials and in turn more waste. I worked on these job sites and watched the 20 yard dumpsters roll in and out almost daily filled with whatever we could jam in them.
During those years, the construction industry was booming and we were not the only outfit that was producing a ridiculous amount of construction and demolition waste. I started "dumpster diving" in our dumpsters for any kind of useable material. Whether it was wood or metal scrap, left over wires or pretty much anything that either had a bit of value to it or could be re-used. The idea behind this not being to start a personal collect of "garbage", but if I could gather enough of one type of material, I could either sell it in bulk or build up enough of a type of material so that it made sense to re-use them.
So I started selling the metals to scrap yards to be re-melted in to new metal. I used wood framing members, called "cut offs" for blocking for cabinet installation and other odds and ends around the job site, and the list goes on and on. My boss at the time, started to look at what was going on and realized that if the entire crew paid attention to the waste generated and what was done with it, we could save a quite a bit of money in materials. We also saw that we could devert lots of landfill waste if we sorted out all of our waste materials and utilized some of the new recycling programs that the area dump had recently implemented, such as wood/concrete recycling, sheetrock recycling and so on. So I built some basic boxes out of scrap wood that all the different materials could be sorted into. Then, created the pick up and drop off schedule and put the system too work at the job site.
Not only where we able to use every last drop of materials ordered for a specific job, but we were able to carry over materials to other jobs and save money there as well. The material that did go to the landfill, was recycled back into raw form by the municipality. The team had a great sense of accomplishment and the word spread fast. I was asked to create similar systems for other job sites around the area. After helping set up about 3 other systems, the initiative kind of just took its own shape and before I knew it, most contractors in town started recycling their waste in the same manner. A friend of mine around the same time started a word-of-mouth, cash only, used materials shop out of his barn. Selling everything from used doors and windows, too the kitchen sink. All scoured from the local demolition/construction projects.
As my construction career continued, I paid much more attention to not only waste in general but the types of materials that myself and my co-workers were working with on different job sites. I began to work exclusively with construction companies that took a more sustainable approach to building. In 2006 a twist of fate took me out of the construction industry and put me back into school where I dove head first into a ciriculum filled with all things sustainable. From solar energy design classes to entire building envelope analysis and everything in-between. I focused my studies on sustainable building materials as well as waste management, which in my opinion go hand in hand.
Tell us about this new position and what your role is?
Here at Fireclay, I have had the great opportunity of taking part in the development of our beautiful "Crush" line of tile which speaks to my passion directly. Not only is the product made from waste, but the company who makes it (Fireclay) has a great reputation for being a sustainable factory that produces beautiful products from other peoples waste. So originally joining the team was a "no brainer" for me.
As my I entrenched myself in the position. It became very clear to me that sustainable manufacturing went much further than just making a product out of recycled materials. It speaks to an entire culture of sustainability and efficiency that must be carried by every employee like a badge of honor during their work day. I am going to help Fireclay reach some lofty goals as far as efficiency and sustainability are concerned. As well as creating the first written safety program for Fireclay Tile. Even though Fireclay has a stellar safety record over the many years of operation, it is essential that all companies have a set of safety standards and protocol that will help carry that record far into the future.
What are three key areas in which you hope to focus in this new role?
Key areas that I intended to focus on are in the relm of safety, energy usage, waste generation and management as well as material and manufacturing efficiency.
These tasks have been taken on by some of the larger manufacturing companies in the world but not so much by mid-level companies. These mid-level companies sometimes make the mistake of thinking that sustainability means more dollars spent with more work and regulations. Fireclay Tile and I are firm believers that sustainability will not only result in higher profits, but also a more efficient factory that enables each employee to work not necessarily harder, but better. Again, with an end result of not only more profit but also a higher level of satisfaction in the work place that can be shared by everyone at the company. Knowing that we are doing our part to contribute to a healthy planet that is full of beautiful recycled tile.
If you had one HUGE goal that you would like to see accomplished during your first year, what would it be?
I would love to be able to announce in one years time that all of the waste that Fireclay generates, is being recycled back into our production system for all of our products. Also, eliminating stocking trips to The Boneyard!!!
What do you think other companies could learn from what we are doing today at Fireclay Tile?
I think that when Fireclay Tile is successful in achieving these goals, it will provide an example to other U.S. manufacturers that sustainability can be reached by any company of any size. At the same time, showing companies that complex systems of manufacturing can also be manipulated into sustainable ones. Based on the idea that it starts with raw materials and carries through-out the entire manufacturing process and manufacturing team. Also showing that sustainability is more than just a "green" sticker on a label, or an idea that a salesperson sells to a client. But rather, a culture that radiates from the company so bright that clients can not help but be inspired.
Any predictions for this year's NFL season? Will the Redskins go undefeated?
Unfortunately for Eric...(Redskins fan), his team will not go undefeated but will find themselves in a familiar place by seasons end....looking up from the bottom at the Super Bowl champion New York Giants!!! I do however have high hopes for the 49ers this year...I think Harbaugh will do good things with the team this year.
Any other thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?
This mission of sustainability that Fireclay is undertaking is only going to be achievable if we have full support and engagement from the entire company. It starts and ends with the efforts of every single person. Thats the great thing about it!! We are in charge of our own future! And the future of a great company that we all love! I hope that you all share the same excitement that I have in looking forward too not only the challenge that is ahead of us, but the results that will follow.
Thanks for all your help and dedication ahead of time!