Tag, you’re green!

Orgill is showing its customers the path to green, identifying products that are good for the environment with a program called Green Friendly Products.

Orgill began with a smattering of such products at the beginning of 2008, presenting a small set at the spring market in Orlando, Fla., in February. The distributor stepped things up through the spring months, compiling a list of 1,400 items identified with the “green” label. Competitors Ace, True Value and Do it Best have all developed similar programs within the past year.

“Our green department will be a major area of focus at our fall dealer market in Chicago (Aug. 14 to 16), with a significantly larger footprint than at our spring market,” president Ron Beal said, referring to the hundreds of products that will be on display—as well as POP kits, banners, signs and green product tags. “Orgill has identified green friendly products in practically every product category for our dealers to promote and emphasize within their stores.”

Orgill has divided green products into five sub-categories: Energy Efficiency, with products like fluorescent lights, programmable thermostats, solar lighting and water softening; Water Conservation, with low-flow faucets, tankless water heaters and drip irrigation; Health Conscious, with natural pest control, natural cleaners, air purifiers and low-VOC paints and caulks; Reduced Waste and Recycling, including anything made from recycled products or that helps the consumer recycle; and Sustainable Forestry, including vendors that have certified wood products.

On the Orgill.com home page is a link to “Green Friendly Products,” a page that lists green items, green facts, tips for going green in the home and links to other sites. “Green to us is something that is better for the environment—an environmentally preferred product,” said Denise Sullivan, Orgill’s retail programs manager, who is in charge of Green Friendly Products.

One Orgill dealer that has found green is good for business is Mountain Lumber in Boone, N.C., which has a 7,500-square-foot main lumberyard, a 5,000-square-foot satellite retail store, a door shop and a custom millwork shop. Mountain follows both the National Association of Home Builders and State of North Carolina green building standards.

“We talk to builders one-on-one about how to build a sustainable house, and we’re a partner in a project at Furman University—a green house that Southern Living Magazine is promoting,” said owner/president Dwight Simmons. “The state of North Carolina is probably behind a lot of the country, but the Asheville market is strong.”

Mountain Lumber supports the North Carolina “Healthy-Built Homes” program, which has more than 600 projects in process, and Simmons has been working with Appalachian State University’s Energy Center to get more builders and homeowners involved in green building. The store is also waiting on its chain of custody certification and expects to be approved with in a few weeks.

Another Orgill store increasing its commitment to green living is the Hardware Store in Sparta, N.J. Owner Timm Dillon said that because he is in a lake community where citizens are concerned about water contamination, he has been carrying certain environmentally friendly products for years. Only recently, however, has he begun to call out the items as “green.”

Dillon just put the finishing touches on a three-foot gondola stocked with all five products under Clorox’s Green Works label, as well as phosphate-free cleaners, power strips and CFL light bulbs. He said Orgill’s commitment to the category is making it easier to devote a portion of the store to green products.

“In the past, we had to order from the individual company, which meant ordering more of something than we might want to,” he said. “Orgill’s new emphasis on green will help us try new products and see how it goes.”

Dillon also believes the program’s banners and green product tags will help his customers identify the products—whether or not they are grouped in one area of the store. “You can put it in the department where it needs to be and people will still know it’s a green friendly product,” he said.

Back at headquarters, Orgill continues to add to the Green Friendly Products program, updating the list for customers on an on going basis. Beal says his company will continue to expand the program as the green phenomenon proliferates through the United States—and the world.

“I expect that retailers failing to recognize and prepare for this trend will be at a competitive disadvantage in the future,” he said.