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"Portraits by Linfeng Li, www.linfengliphotography.com"

 

For Feiy’s new Impact Series our writer in residence Nika Dulevich is talking to entrepreneurs who pursue a path greater than just profit and strive to contribute to the greater good with their products and services. The first business owner she talked to is Robin Dell, the founder and managing director at Imondi, a Shanghai-based reclaimed wood flooring company.

 

This is the second part of a two-part interview, where Robin talks about succeeding as an impact-driven company, creating sustainable change and his personal contribution to the environmental and social well-being. You can read the first part of the interview here.

 

Feiy新的影响系列,我的常作家Nika Dulevich正在与追求超越利、努力透过产品和服献的企访谈。她访谈的第一位老板是Robin Dell,他是上海回收木材地板公司-Imondi立者和行董事。

 

两部分访谈的第二部分。 Robin分享他成功成一个影响力公司、展可持性改和他个人对环境以及社会福祉的献。你可以在提供的接看到第一部分的访谈

 

 

Do you think of the impact-driven business world as more of a game of competition or a place of cooperation?

 

Realistically speaking, in our sector at least, there is always competition between suppliers. However, I don’t think competition is a bad thing, it encourages suppliers to enhance their services to match clients' requirements. As we’ve seen in the last few years, many clients and governmental bodies are increasingly concerned about sustainability and in a competitive market, it results in suppliers adapting to that. There are still some awful companies in our industry that contribute significantly to global deforestation and many that actively “greenwash”, pretending they care about sustainability, but it’s nice to see many companies that have changed their practices.

 

您认为影响驱动的企业界更像是一场竞争游戏还是合作地位?

 

现实地说,至少在我们的行业,供应商间总是会有竞争。但我认为竞争不是不好的事,它鼓励供应商增进服务来达到客户的要求。如同我们在过去几年看到的,很多客人和政府机构越来越关注持续性,在竞争市场中,更促使供应商去适应这种情况。而在我们的行业中,仍有许多差劲的公司应该对全球森林砍伐负责,也有很多积极的漂绿-假装他们在乎持续性。然而,很高兴看到很多公司改变了他们的做法。

 

 

What has been your biggest lesson learned throughout the years working with reclaimed wood in China and around the world?

 

I’m not sure if this relates to reclaimed wood, but on a personal level, as an entrepreneur, you’re going to have a lot of ups and downs and dealing with those psychologically is incredibly important. When we first started, when there was an up, we were popping champagne corks and when there was a down we were going home feeling really s***** for days on end. I think one of the most important lesson I’ve learned is to let the ups and downs happen and just carry on because at the end of the day life goes on and it’s very much your choice whether to be happy or unhappy. So why choose to be unhappy? I know it’s easy to say, but it’s important to say it nevertheless.

 

多年来您在中国和世界做回收木材的最大启示是什么?

 

我不确定这是否与回收木材相关,但在个人层面,身为一位创业家,你会有很多起伏,而在处理这些心理是极度重要的。在我们刚开始时,当高兴,我们开香槟;当低落,我们好几天回家时感到非常糟糕。我想我学习到最重要的一课是如何任由让那些起伏发生然后持续向前,因为最终还是持续在生活,要快乐或不快乐是你的选择。那为什么选择不快乐?我知道要说很简单,但尽管如此,还是很重要。

 

 

In hindsight, what was the smartest decision you made with the company?

 

Our decision to focus on reclaimed wood has probably been the smartest decision we made. When we opened our first factory in Dalian in 2006 we were arrogant enough to think we could build a long-term business by being one of the first factories in China to make flooring with “European-style” finishes. However, within a few years, several other much larger factories started copying these colors and, being larger than us, could manufacture them cheaper, even if without the same level of service. And so we reinvented ourselves by launching innovative patterns and dimensions. But again, within a few years found ourselves being copied. However, since we started working with reclaimed wood, eight years ago, we are more or less alone in the field. There are many reasons for this – it's very difficult to source the wood in long-term sustainable quantities, it’s difficult to process the wood and it’s difficult to find the clients that appreciate it. But I hope it will inspire impact-driven entrepreneurs who read this to consider focusing on one industry and learning about it with the aim to, hopefully, find a niche with decent barriers to entry.

 

 

事后看来,您对公司做出的最明智的决定是什么?

 

我们着重在回收木材可能是我们做出最明智的决定了。在2006年,当我们在大连建立我们第一个工厂时,我们骄傲地认为,藉由成为中国最早使用欧式的地版公司之一,能建立长久的生意。然而,不到几年,其他许多更大的厂家开始仿制这些颜色。也因为比我们规模还要大,可以更便宜的制造,甚至没有相同的服务水平。因此,我们也推出新研发的图样和尺寸。但,再一次地,短短数年我们发现我们被仿冒。

然而,在8年前当我们开始做回收木材时,我们在这个行业多少是独自一个。有很多原因,例如,很难长期持续采购木材数量、木材处理很难,而且很难找到有客户会喜欢。但我希望这会激发影响力型的企业家,让他们考虑关注在一个行业并了解它,目的是希望找到一个具有良好壁垒的利基市场后进入。

 

 

If you had the chance, taking all factors into consideration and understanding how the industry has changed over the years, would you choose to start Imondi right now?

 

Yes, I love what I do. If I had a bit more energy and time, I would open the “House of Reclaimed” chain of retail shops all over Europe and America, that I've always dreamt about. I think the market is crying out for it, but I've got so much on my plate right now. But I do love what I do and I would definitely do it again if I were to start now.

 

若将所有因素列入考量以及明白这个产业的改变,您今天还会创立Imondi吗?

 

如果我有更多的精力和时间,我会在欧洲和美洲开回收之家的连锁零售店梦想。我认为市场迫切需要,不过我现在有太多东西。但我确实爱我所做的事,如果要现在开始,我肯定会再做一次。

 

 

 

Do you think it’s more important to have a sustainable product or a sustainable company culture that invests in its people and processes?

 

I can only answer from Imondi’s perspective. We started off with the sustainable product and then we realized that it's great to be sustainable as a company, so we started introducing this idea into our company culture. Different companies have different journeys. A lot of impactful entrepreneurs come from another direction, they want to do something sustainable in the community and then create a sustainable product. So I think it doesn't matter where it starts, it only matters where you end up.

 

您认为拥有可持续性的产品要比一个对其人力和流程投资的可持续性的公司文化来得重要吗?

 

我只能以Imondi的角度来回答。我们从可持续性产品开始发展,之后我们意识到作为一家可持续性的公司是很棒的。因此我们开始将这个想法导入公司文化。而不同的公司有不同的发展,很多影响力企业家由另一个角度切入,他们要在社区做一些可持续性的事,并创造一个可持续性的产品。所以我觉得,从哪里开始没有差别,最终哪里才是重要。

 

 

How can we as employers and employees encourage companies to have more sustainable products and practices?

 

I think it's all about clear communication. When we started our video discussion forums (editor’s note: you can find more about it in the first part of our interview with Robin), I thought how great it would be if a year later Elain from the admin department, or anyone else in the office, were to suggest, for example, to have a recycling bin next to our normal bin. It’s when the message of sustainability, which is so ingrained as brand value of Imondi, becomes ingrained in the culture and ethos of those who work here, that we will have succeeded. Communicating that goal very clearly at the beginning has made people in our organization think a lot more about their personal impact. In the end, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink, right? So we can do all these cool things: videos, discussions, events, but things really change when Elain says, “Why don’t we have a recycling bin? Maybe I can do something about it.” And I think you can only get that through constant communication.

 

身为雇主和员工,我们可以如何鼓励公司有更多的可持续性产品和行动?

 

我想这都是关于有清楚的沟通。当我们开始做视频讨论论坛时(编者注:你可以在我们与Robin访谈的第一部分找到更多相关信息),我想如果在一年之后,我们的行政部门的人员Elain或是任何在办公室里的人可以建议:例如放一个回收桶在一般垃圾桶旁边,那该有多好!当可持续发展的信息,如同Imondi品牌价值般根深蒂固,并根深蒂固在这里工作的人的文化与精神中,那我们就会成功。

 

 

Who do you think plays a bigger role in driving sustainable change: governments, businesses or consumers?

 

It always blows me away when I read negative articles in the Western press about how China and India are polluting the world, when the reason why they are creating this pollution is actually to supply the needs of the western society. I think a lot of consumers don't realize that the throw-away products they buy and consumer society, in general, is what creates so much of this mess.

 

So I think the change has to come from the consumer. There is an increasing awareness from people about environmental issues in the world, so the government can be a reflection of that and businesses can respond to demand. Governments can impact the way the culture thinks. For example, they are taxing producers of plastic packaging in England now – how great is that? It’s initiatives like these that governments must take to stop the disasters from happening. However governments can’t get away with being too radical either or they’ll receive pushback from their stakeholders. There has to be a balance. I also think the role of media is very important in creating awareness and pushing cultures in a certain direction. And it all combines, doesn’t it?

 

您认为谁在驱动可持续性变革中所担演的角色相当重要?政府、企业还是消费者?

 

当我在西方媒体读到有关中国和印度是如何在污染世界的负面文章时,总是让我感到震惊,因为造成这个污染的原因实际上是为了满足西方社会的需需求。我想,有很多消费者都不明白他们丢弃所购买的产品和消费者社会,这一般都是造成这种混乱的原因。

 

所以我认为改变要由消费者开始。有越来越多人意识到世界的环境议题,所以政府可以反映这点,而企业可以对需求作出回覆。政府可以影响文化思维,例如,在英国,政府已经对塑胶包装制造商征税,这多么好?正是这些政府必须采取的倡议,来停止灾难的发生。但政府(国家/决策者)无法摆脱过于激进或受到利益相关者的阻碍,必须要有平衡点。我也认为媒体在提升意识和将文化向一个明确目标推展,扮演重要的角色。而这一切不是都结合了吗?

 

As a consumer and individual, how do you contribute to the environmental and social well-being?

 

On a personal level, I now work with schools around Shanghai to introduce some of the Green Initiatives and Seeds of Change programs and I'm really enjoying it. I put in a couple of hours a week, as it is my personal goal to impact our community and because it is a truly rewarding thing to do. I really enjoyed the recent Dulwich eco-campus where I was given the opportunity to teach various classes of students about deforestation, and how we can personally counter it, a subject very close to my heart. I am very impressed with Dulwich’s commitment to the environment and try and encourage other schools to learn from them. I think this generation messed things up and I really hope the younger generation can help sorting it out. If you can take a couple of hours a week to think about ways to contribute to your community, I cannot encourage it more. It took me too long to do it but has already given me a lot.

 

身为一位消费者和个体,您如何为环境和社会福祉做出贡献?

 

就个人层面,我现在和上海附近的学校合作,介绍许多绿色倡议和Seeds of Change(改变的种子)计画,我也乐在其中。我每周花几小时,因为我个人的目标是影响我们社区,也因为这是真正有益的事情。我很喜欢Dulwich的生态环保校园,我最近有机会教导不同班级的学生有关森林砍伐以及我们如何以个人的力量对抗,一个与我相当密切的主题。 Dulwich对环境的承诺并努力鼓励其他学校与其学习,让我留下了深刻的印象。我认为这一代的人将事情搞砸,而我真的希望年轻一代可以帮忙解决。如果你每周可以用几个小时想一想,如何对社区做出贡献,我会非常的鼓励。我花了很多时间才做到,但我已经学习到很多。

 

 

What impact do you want to make in the world? And how far are you into realizing it?

 

I enjoy our role in helping the construction industry become greener. In the same way that Bea Johnson has inspired a generation of people with her Zero Waste philosophy to aspire to minimize your waste, I see many of the larger companies in our industry looking at Imondi for inspiration on how to be a greener producer and supplier of construction materials.

 

您想在世界做出什么样的影响?您还有多远可以达到?

 

我喜欢我们协助建设产业变得更加环保的角色。同样地,Bea Johnson希望减少浪费的零浪费哲学已经激发一代人。我发现很多在我们产业中更大的公司,正以Imondi来获得如何成为更环保的建筑材料生产商和供应商的灵感。

 

 

What is your ‘Why’? Why are you doing what you are doing, personally and professionally?

 

When I set up the company I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur because my family were entrepreneurs and honestly speaking, I felt I had something to prove. That motivation lasted only up to a certain point. It's not a bad motivation, there's nothing wrong with wanting to make money or to build a large company, but it's not something that will get you through the millions of ups and downs. At some point, there has to be more. And so as our business grew, our motivations changed. Our “Why “is that we believe in helping people experience an emotional connection with their interiors. Our “How” is that we create cutting-edge designs, working with sustainable wood with awe-inspiring and unique histories, utilizing manufacturing methods that preserve age-old traditions of craftsmanship. We love that moment when the client enters their house for the first time, walking over the flooring that has been hand-made from oak mooring poles reclaimed from the canals of old Venice in Italy. They now have their own “little bit of Venice” at home, which helps it a little bit more in becoming a “home” rather than a “house”. I cannot state more the importance of understanding your “Why” and “How” as an entrepreneur.

 

您的为什么为何?依个人和专业而言,您为什么做您所做?

 

当我成立公司时,我要成为一个成功的企业家,因为我来自企业家的家庭。而坦白地说,我感觉我有东西要证明。这种动机只持续到一定的程度。这并非一个不好的动机,要赚钱或建立更大的公司并没有错,但并不是会让你经历数百万的起伏。在某一个时间点,必须要有更多。而当我们的企业拓展,我们的动机改变。我们的为什么是我们相信让人们体验他们的室内设计与情感的联系。我们的如何是我们开创设计先锋,使用回收木材以及其凛然和独特的历史,并以传统保留的古老工艺来制造。我们深爱当客人第一次踏入他们的房子的时刻,走过使用来自义大利威尼斯运河的橡木系泊杆的手工制作地板 。他们现在有属于他们的小威尼斯在家,让房子更像家。我对你作为企业家需要理解为什么如何的重要性非常同意。

 

 

How would you like to be remembered?

Gloriously.

 

您想要以什么样的方式被记得?

 

光荣地

 

 

 

Related articles

 

Robin Dell - Imondi, From Reclaimed Wood To Corporate Culture

Miao Wang - In Shark We Trust, From Swimwear To Conservation

 

 

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