Close-looping Sustainability Through Local Business and Manufacturing: An Interview with Mike Hill from AoSA Image

Posted on 16. Oct, 2009 by in Design & Culture, Entrepreneurship, Interviews

AOSA FINALAoSA Image started four years ago with a group of friends who loved surfing, the environment, and the local community. Their first offering reflected their immediate passion: surfboards. Now AoSA (which stands for the Art of Sports and Apparel) offers tile murals, fine art prints, t-shirts, fabric banners, snowboards, and surfboards. Each of these products are manufactured from a variety of recycled and reusable materials through eco-friendly and environmentally stable processes.  As AoSA’s founder, Mike Hill realizes the long term impact humans have on the planet and has made the company’s mission to be a positive impact on the environment with recyclable and reusable products developed through local business and manufacturers.

While innovation, creativity, and sustainable operations is central to their business, the biggest struggle comes from relating internal development to external production. “First and foremost, [it] is making a sustainable product,” says Mike. “It is more of an internal sourcing struggle than a client struggle. Clients usually come to us for a special fabricated job and we don’t give them many options out of what we have.” While the company is small, they will not compromise and use materials and products that are not both environmentally friendly and outdoor stable. “We work with materials and processes that we respect. We do market ourselves as a sustainable resource but I don’t know if that’s a major purchasing point with customers. It’s about holding integrity in our product.”

Where does this leave business development and long term customers satisfaction? The company’s recursive ideology of integrity within and across its relationships is the answer. “We don’t have a single product offering. It’s more a group of ideas that can be implemented by different companies. It’s more about meeting the client’s needs half way or all the way with what we have, and developing with the client over time.” Through long term innovation, design, and loyalty, customer needs are met as their product is customized to a craft level. Sustainability is a must from the get go of any product or service, inherent in the design and manufacturing.

As AoSA Image strives to be a positive impact on both the environment and the community through local business and local manufacturing, what are the next steps? Mike Hill is leading his company in the right direction, tapping into the global community of sustainable businesses and green business leaders. Recently, AoSA Image joined the 1% For the Planet Foundation and will be attending the Opportunity Green Conference in Los Angeles, California next month. AoSA Image has recently started a new program utilizing reusability and recycling in a double system called The Sustainable Banner Program. Banners made by AoSA are used from 100% recycled plastic bottles and will be reclaimed by the company and turned into carrying bags.

What does Mike Hill and AoSA Image hope to gain from Opportunity Green next month? “I really don’t look for anything ever. I go into things to just do them and have fun and support people. I don’t have any objective. First and foremost is to support OG and learn more about the community. Second, hopefully OG will come to us.”  AoSA represents both an idea and a process in product development for long term sustainability.  AoSA’s Products and services are accustomed to specific needs and wants of their business counterparts and environmental integrity is held within the product development.  Productive communication lines are developed through inter-company interaction and developed into a comprehensive model. Over time, sustainable business relationships, a sustainable profit, and a sustainable product is created, reaching the triple bottom line.

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