little over a year ago I introduced a fabric company that is revolutionizing
the hospitality fabric industry. Valley
Forge Fabrics, once
a small mom-and-pop business, now sells more decorative upholstery fabrics to
the hospitality industry than any other company in the world. I recently got a
chance to catch up with Valley Forge’s leadership when I held an executive
briefing webinar on the secrets of Valley Forge’s success, and you can review
the presentation by clicking here. What I learned was fascinating: over the
past year the company has seen its green initiatives evolve into a breakthrough
new product with the potential to deliver a disruptive competitive advantage.
Read on to see how Valley Forge is harnessing the true potential of ethonomics.
Not only is
Valley Forge the leader in its market, but it is also focused on making sure
its products and processes are green. This focus on sustainability is more than
just lip service – it is a directive from upper management and a mission of the
has made an effort to recycle everything it can. It is the first to produce a
fabric made entirely of post consumer waste (e.g., used paper and cotton).
It encourages other ways to recycle by staff to bring in wine corks on Mondays,
offering a place for employees to bring in their old pairs of Croc shoes,
reducing its carbon footprint and cutting back on the amount of trash it
produces. These might seem like small steps, but Valley Forge has also taken
some huge leaps.
instance, Valley Forge has developed a program to reuse hospitality bedding.
Most of the time when a hotel is done with its sheets (usually because they are
starting to slightly fray after so many washes), it just throws them away.
That’s hundreds of millions of pounds of sheets heading into landfills. So
Valley Forge has set up a program in which it picks up old bedding (after it
has been washed one last time) and then delivers those sheets to homeless
shelters or rehabilitation centers within 200 miles of that particular hotel.
recycling, Valley Forge has spent the last two years developing a new line of
sheets made with a renewable resource. First it looked at cotton, but after a
lot of research, it realized that cotton makes up 2 percent of the
world’s crops and uses 25 percent of the world’s pesticides. So right away
Valley Forge’s management knew that wasn’t the environmental solution it was
focused on bamboo. But again, they were disappointed to learn that it takes
between 11 and 13 chemical processes to convert bamboo into a fiber that can be
used to make a yard of fabric. All of those chemicals changed the product so
drastically that it really wasn’t an environmentally sound investment.
company settled on working with eucalyptus. You see, eucalyptus pulp can be
created into a fiber by combining it with only one organic solvent. The product
is called Tencel, and it seemed like the answer to Valley Forge’s prayers.
wasn’t that simple. Hospitality bedding has to go through heavy, industrial
washing, and the Tencel wasn’t strong enough. So after more than a year of
working with Lenzing, an Austrian company that makes Tencel, the two companies
developed Tencel Plus. This “plus” version of Tencel was strong enough to cope
with industrial washers and soft enough to satisfy the most luxurious hotels.
Valley Forge was the partner that helped develop the Tencel Plus, it worked out
a world-wide exclusive deal with Lenzing.
Valley Forge has created sheets made with Tencel Plus that not only feel great
but also take advantage of the natural benefits of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is
almost like a bug repellent, and therefore it reduces dust mites in the
bed. It also wicks away moisture and heat from the body, and so it cools
individuals down while they sleep.
the idea of wrapping themselves in eucalyptus as they sleep. The fact
that it reduces dust mites and provides a cooler sleep are extra benefits. But
eucalyptus is also a very smooth fiber, so Valley Forge’s 200-thread-count
sheets actually feel like 350-thread-count cotton, and their 300 thread count
feels like a 500 or 600 thread count.
on a mission to be more green, Valley Forge not only developed a new product
that is better than anything else out there, but it also has the exclusive rights
to use that product. That is the definition of ethonomics.
the questions below to see how you can follow your dream to create something
that your competitors cannot compete with.
1. What do I really want
2. How can it benefit
3. Who can I partner with
to develop this new product or service?
4. Is there a way to set up exclusivity to benefit my bottom line?