State of the B case study: Eagle Protect
Eagle Protect (NZ and US) imports and distributes ethically sourced disposable gloves and clothing for the food, industrial and medical sectors. Eagle has a triple focus of reducing their customers' environmental impact, improving their food safety practices, and ensuring their brand reputation through a fully transparent supply chain.
Why did your business become a Certified B Corporation?
Our Founder and CEO, Steve Ardagh,Founder and CEO, shares “We became a B Corp in 2012 as it was the right thing to do. We were NZ’s first, and we are still the world’s only B Corp supplier of food safety disposable protective products. Our values of looking after our community, our people, and in our case, our factories, align well with the B Corp mantra of not only being the best in the world, but being the best for the world.”
Becoming a B Corp also shows our customers just how serious we are about conducting business differently. B Corp certification means we are continually looking for ways to reduce the impact of our products. It forces us to be alert and to challenge our industry, and means we can offer added protection to our customers, including their reputation.
What changes did you make during the certification process?
The initial certification process was tough, which was a good thing! We had to assess areas of our business and make improvements. Each recertification has brought further progress. A benefit company status is not yet available in New Zealand, however, during an investment round we took the opportunity to amend our governing documents which helps to lock in the purpose of the business. As part of our commitment to accountability and transparency, we have published an annual Sustainability Report since 2015.
What are the positive impact your business has on environment, workers, and/or community?
We often joke that we are the dirtiest B Corp because we have the greatest opportunity to make an impact! For example, we’ve helped one US Food Retailer save 1.2 million pounds of waste by swapping to Eagle gloves and improving their glove processes. Eagle is committed to responsible sourcing. We personally visit our factories, which must pass our own Supplier Code of Conduct, assessing labor, environmental and quality of production.
Eagle is proud to call Christchurch (NZ) and South Lake Tahoe (US) home, with both offices located in co-working spaces. We strive to support our people to live well, and offer work hours that encourage good life balance. We give back to our local communities through product donations and volunteering. Thanks to our B Corp certification, we developed a paid Internship Programme. This is a great way to give back to the community while preparing students for the workforce.
It forces us to be alert and to challenge our industry, and means we can offer added protection to our customers, including their reputation.
Do you have impact improvements planned?
Our planned improvements are focused on the areas of our business where we can make the greatest impact: food safety, sustainability, and supply chain transparency. We have aligned our impact goals with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 3, 8 and 12, and we continue to work towards these.
What benefits have you experienced from being a Certified B Corporation?
From having to explain what a B Corp was to almost everyone we met back in 2012, to recently witnessing NZ’s first mainstream television advertisement featuring fellow NZ B Corp Sawmill Brewery, we’ve seen the conversations at both consumer and business levels starting to change.
Becoming part of the B Corp community has been really beneficial for building relationships with like-minded people and businesses. Being a B Corp in the US allowed us to move into a ready made network of companies sharing the same values. As our business grows we’ve brought in external investors that share our values and having a third party certification gives reassurance to those coming onboard that we are doing what we say.
Kath Row, Sustainability Coordinator, Eagle Protect
This case study is featured in B Lab's State of the B Report 2019.