Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is more than a buzzword in the RV industry, it’s good people doing good things in their community. Guaranty RV Super Center’s Senior Sales Administrator Jolene Thomson and Marketing Director Marshall White participated in a Q&A with us about how their CSR efforts have benefitted not only the planet but also their community and business. Check it out!

WHAT MOTIVATED GUARANTY’S CSR EFFORTS?
Our CSR program began as an in-house, grassroots effort about 10 years ago, with the blessing and direction from leadership. One of our first projects was building out our then new RV travel center in a sustainable way, which included outfitting the center with dozens of solar panels.

Adopting a CSR program came naturally for us as a brand because the idea of social responsibility is near and dear to our owner Shannon Nill. In the 1970s, Shannon was involved in high school green energy and solar leadership initiative. Green energy and conservation have been a focus to the entire Guaranty team, and we embody this by keeping direct mail small, reducing paper use and generally try to operate in a sustainable manner overall.

GUARANTY IS ACERTIFIED ECOBIZ – WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
EcoBiz certifies eco-friendly auto repair and body shops, landscapers and car washes in Oregon. Certified businesses meet high standards to reduce toxics, prevent pollutions and protect the environment. To become certified, each location is visited and evaluated by program staff and certified by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the local water authority.

What this meant for us was rethinking our capital improvement process, rebuilding our facility to meet the EcoBiz specifications and rethinking how we handle waste materials such as oil and wastewater. Addressing the storm drain runoff necessitated reimagining the RV park and service facility to make the plumbing adequate to prevent oil and contaminants from running into storm drains.

HOW HAVE CSR EFFORTS BENEFITTED GUARANTY’S BUSINESS?
Our consumers are increasingly outdoor-minded and care about the environment. As a business in the Pacific Northwest, we have seen environmental conservation concerns rise to the forefront of consumer considerations when deciding to patronize a business. Guaranty has always viewed being good stewards of the planet as a moral imperative - and our consumers agree. We credit much of our continued growth and good years to our efforts to hear and respond to our customers’ needs in this space.

Additionally, we see other returns: our power consumption bill is significantly less; our LED lighting showcases the products better; and we can use the EcoBiz designation in marketing, webpages, blog posts and other social media. 

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS INTERESTED IN IMPLEMNETING CSR IN THEIR BUSINESS?
We would stress not thinking that CSR must be a huge overhaul to your business. Small advances like replacing insulation or installing LED lighting all pay back over time and do not need to be cost-prohibitive.

Additionally, it is important to start with buy-in from the very top. For us, leadership showed enthusiasm from the beginning, which trickled down to the staff. Because everyone was on board, staff were willing to put in the extra effort, even when that meant reconsidering how they do things. The process included gamification elements, like department contests for raising donations, to boost enthusiasm. Now, it’s so embedded in the culture and touches nearly every decision.

WHAT ARE SOME CSR PROJECTS OF GUARANTY?
One fun point of interest is that our travel center building has its own power inverter and 68 skylights, which utilize natural lighting and reduce energy consumption.

And for us, CSR is much more than just conservation efforts. For example, in the last 13 years we have collected and donated over 30,000 socks and handknit hats to a local family shelter which provides accommodations for homeless families and does outreach on behalf of low-income people.

WHAT ARE SOME OF GUARANTY’S FUTURE PLANS?
In August, we completed an LED retrofit project to replace over 1,000 lightbulbs throughout our dealership. Beyond that, the family is considering a few next steps - but you’ll have to stay tuned to see what those are!

Are there CSR initiatives underway at your company? Would you like those efforts to be featured in an upcoming RV Industry Association spotlight in this series? Contact Ashley Brinkman at [email protected] or Samantha Rocci at [email protected] to start a discussion!