In this episode of the BSuite Podcast, Anne Richardson interviews Jeff Golfman, an ecopreneur, philanthropist, and author who has dedicated his entire career to pursuing a purpose-driven path. Jeff is the founder and CEO of Certified B-Corp The Raw Office, a Canadain-based office supply company. Anne and Jeff discuss the importance of leading purpose-driven businesses. Jeff shares takeaways from a career devoted to making a positive impact.
The Raw Office Story
With prior experience as a supplier in the office supply industry, Jeff saw an opportunity to do business differently. It was this opportunity that drove Jeff to start The Raw Office. His goal was to create an alternative to business supply and compete with places like Staples, Office Depot, and Amazon. Bothered by the outdated pay-to-play supplier-first model, he set out to create a more ethical customer-first approach. According to Jeff, “The RawOffice helps you save money, time, and is 100% carbon neutral. Simply a better way to buy.”
In true entrepreneur fashion, Jeff decided to defy the norm by giving the customer what they wanted and scaling back supplier control. He believes, “procurement purchasing decisions are the entry point to changing the world.” Knowing that people vote with their wallets, Jeff started The RawOffice as an entry point to drive change in an otherwise outdated industry.
The Raw Office utilizes a drop-shipping technology platform to supply and fulfill orders. They have access to products from 45 different warehouses across Canada. Their technology dispatches orders to the closest warehouse with stock. This gives The RawOffice the flexibility of supplying thousands of products without having to own warehouses. The success of this model showed during the COVID pandemic when most suppliers that use regular sales channels ran out of inventory and were forced to shut down. The Rawoffice was able to utilize its technology to stay open and place PPE and medical supplies in warehouses across North America to fulfill orders.
Their technology was able to supply people in a time of need. Jeff said, “ that’s the purpose of a supplier, to make sure that everybody still has stock.” The Raw Office team has continued to supply essential items during the pandemic. They extended their efforts outside of North America and delivered 100 oxygen concentrator machines into India, to help with the outbreak and the challenges they are facing today.
Benefit Corporation Journey
Jeff is no stranger to Benefit Corporations. His involvement started 11 years ago when he was running a different supplier company. Jeff felt that B Corp was a great idea.
“Immediately when we first heard about B Corp, it made sense. And it felt right. And it felt like a community of people all moving in the same direction.”
Becoming a BCorp was a natural fit for Jeff and his company. He was already doing many of the requirements and he was able to get certified at 80.1 points. Jeff shared advice on the scoring and what we can expect as we submit our assessment. He recommended scoring at least 90 points so that we have a buffer when we get knocked down in the interview process.
Every two years a B Corp has to apply for recertification. Jeff has gone through the recertification process five times. Recertification requires each business to take another look at how they can improve their scores in each category. Jeff scored an amazing 106 in his last recertification and has a much higher goal for this year’s recertification. The RawOffice was awarded the B Corps Best Changemaker Award in 2018, meaning they ranked in the top 10% in the world.
Becoming a B Corp for Jeff was a simple decision that already aligned with the DNA of The RawOffice. From the very start, they had decided to be 100% carbon neutral and checked off many of the environmental and worker category requirements.
Jeff is the volunteer president for Green Kids, a non-profit environmental education program founded in 1991. With the goal of creating lasting change, Jeff wants to educate children in hopes they will become environmental stewards. With the knowledge that kids have a strong influence on adult decision-making, he decided to get to the kids first.
Green Kids utilizes theater to teach kids through an exciting entertaining show. After 30 years of successful performances, Green Kids adapted to the pandemic and created Green Kids in a Box to continue the curriculum without visiting the schools.
The new “box” program has allowed Green Kids to reduce their carbon footprint and increase the number of students they can interact with.
Over the decades, millions of kids have interacted with the Green Kids program leaving a lasting positive change.