Jared Fisher Takes Green Route With Retail and Touring Businesses
Bicycle Retailer (March 2007)
p. 43, Article by Matt Wiebe
LAS VEGAS, NV — Jared Fisher’s tours on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in the early 1990s were so popular that they bankrolled his growing tour company, Escape Adventures.
But the National Forest Service began closing the Kaibab National Forest on a regular basis, threatening Fisher’s tour business. Fisher faced a host of difficult business decisions, but today his touring company and retail business, Moab Cyclery, are entirely carbon neutral.
“When the forest closes I have to call all of my clients, let them know what is happening and what their options are to arrange other tours,” said Fisher, who founded Escape Adventures in 1991 with his wife Heather.“It may only be closed for a week or longer, but it’s a hit to the company and those looking forward to the tour. I could wait for others to make hard decisions or I could make those decisions myself,” he added.
In talking with Kaibab officials Fisher learned that prior to 1983 the forest had rarely been closed due to drought, but global warming changed that.
“I took a hard look at my business. Here I was with a fleet of E350 15-passenger vans getting on average eight miles per gallon. Each gallon of gas dumps one pound of carbon into the air,” Fisher said.
Each tour van used 85 gallons of gas and dumped 85 pounds of carbon. Fisher investigated many options to reduce his company’s carbon footprint, including switching to electric-powered vans.
Today his tour company uses vans fueled by vegetable oil scavenged from local restaurants. Nestled in every equipment trailer pulled by a van is a 100-gallon tank of oil. Once a van leaves its Las Vegas warehouse, it doesn’t need to be refueled. “Some days the vans smell like P.F. Chang’s, on other days like Panda Express. It does work up an appetite,” Fisher said.
His company also recycles most waste generated on tours, buys locally produced organic food, and uses Lakin recycled tires on vans. Fisher continues to look for more ways to conserve at both his tour and retail business.
The past few years the company has invested close to a quarter million dollars to offset its environmental footprint—$101,000 went to solar cells to power its retail bicycle shops and bike tour warehouses. The new diesel vans and trucks cost $121,000, and an additional $10,500 was spent converting them to run on waste vegetable oil.The company plants trees around its properties to offset the carbon produced when employees have to fly, and buys carbon credits to offset other carbon- producing activities.
Moab Cyclery customers walk by three recycle bins, and informational signage about solar power, renewable energy and the store’s commitment to sustainable business practices before entering the retail showroom.
“It’s something our employees value. They feel they are part of making a statement about how the business is part of the solution,” Fisher said.
The company’s 25 employees and five seasonal guides are educated on its environmental efforts and can educate customers on the technology they use.On the surface, the bike industry has so much to offer consumers looking to minimize their impact on the environment. But look a little closer and the picture changes.
Fisher noted that environmental waste in the bike industry is high. Pull a bike out of a box and a bike-sized pile of trash comes with it—cardboard, plastic and foam. Many parts and accessories have packaging that dwarfs the product.
While some suppliers are making an effort to reduce their environmental footprint, Fisher thinks more can be done to control energy use.Fisher no longer buys certain products because the packaging is excessive. He hopes other retailers take similar action.
“At this point, I don’t even think about the cost of these changes. They are decisions I don’t feel are optional. I know some of the tax credits are substantial and I know quite a few of our customers are excited to be part of what we are doing,” he said.