Interview with Ward Griffin

A Quick Chat with Ward

Ward Griffin, the President and CEO of Lowe-Martin, is the founding chair of the Sustainable Mail Group’s Board of Director. Ward spoke with us in early April about the formation of the SMG and its goals.

Q: Good morning, Ward. Thanks for taking time to speak with us about the Sustainable Mail Group.

Ward: My pleasure.

Q: What’s the SMG all about?

Ward: At its heart, the SMG is about making the whole mail ecosystem more sustainable. We want to involve all the stakeholders who make up the industry. That includes manufacturers, creatives, material and equipment suppliers, producers and delivery. That’s what’s exciting — you get not one group that’s looking after its interests but a wider -based organization that includes customers and environmental groups.

Q: Every organization has an origin story. Can you tell us how the SMG got started and how long it’s been in development?

Ward: About a year and half ago, Canada Post invited a number of mail suppliers to a meeting to discuss ways of making the mail system more environmentally friendly. We continued to meet and a number of other suppliers joined the group. Early on, it was decided that we should become a separately-run organization. We lost a bit of momentum in the early stages of the pandemic but the momentum never disappeared. By the fall of 2020, we had decided on the path we would take and early in 2021 we formed the Sustainable Mail Group.

Q: That’s not a long time to go from an idea to an entity with a formal structure.

Ward: There was always dialogue and momentum with the participants. Everyone contributed and got us to the point where we have a solid 30-60-90 day plan.

Q: On the personal side, what drew you to the SMG? You had a lot on your plate in 2020 — why did you make time to help launch this new organization?

Ward: Lowe-Martin has always been involved with sustainability and has won numerous awards for the measures we have taken. My two thoughts are, first, that if it’s good for the planet, we should be doing it and, second, being good for the planet can help my business. We can learn a lot from the other members of the SMG. I think that being part of the SMG will ultimately help our business so it’s a win-win.

Q: Do you think that the SMG will provide similar benefits to other organizations?

Ward: I encourage any company or non-profit with an interest in the mail system to join SMG. It will be a great forum for sharing information about solutions and best practices. As more organizations join, the opportunities for networking and learning will increase.

Q: Is there any cost to joining the SMG?

Ward: There is no cost to join at this time. We have some start-up funding that is allowing us to get the SMG off the ground. The only thing we ask when people sign up is for some basic information about their organization. The information will be used to help us tailor website content to best stimulate engagement in the group as well as help us develop future priorities.

Q: What do you hope to achieve over the longer term?

Ward: In the near term, our hope is to spread the practices that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, limit the use of plastics, and cut waste. But I think there is something else we want to aim at. We want to have the SMG inspire innovation in our industry. We all know that our future prosperity depends on innovation. Every industry needs to find better ways to deliver their products and services. I think that a group of like-minded professionals can have a tremendous impact on the sustainability and long-term success of the mail industry.

Q: Any closing words?

Ward: Things in our industry are changing fast. This is a great opportunity to influence the direction the industry will take. And it’s a great way to prepare our companies and organizations for the way we’ll do business in the future.