Taking advantage of the green marketplace doesn't necessarily mean that your company has to focus on green, according to Brandon Fletcher, founder of Green Analytics in Bentonville, AR. Rather it's about recognizing the real opportunities that already exist in that market.
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"Mostly it's talk about business," says Fletcher. Fletcher spoke at the Industrial Supply Association's 2011 Product Show & Conference. "In my opinion, this will be the source of the first trillion dollar company. … That's how big this opportunity is."
And the MRO needs of the green industry will grow like any other large industry, where "8 to 15 percent of their spend will end up being for non-core elements," Fletcher says – items such as safety equipment or replacement fasteners for example. For that trillion dollar company, 8 to 15 percent presents a multi-billion dollar opportunity.
Serving green companies also offers a huge potential customer base. Fletcher estimates the energy efficiency alone is "a trillion-dollar market that still hasn't been addressed." The key is making sure you are offering the right things at the right time, which may take a little self-education.
Biofuel markets are also experiencing increasing demand from the marketplace – even if you exclude ethanol from the calculations. "There are several other biofuel opportunities that actually make sense," Fletcher says. For example, new research has discovered algae that can produce an oil that can be used in place of petroleum-based fuels. And the technology for harvesting it already exists. It's the same technology that was used to "spin the oil off the surface of the Gulf" of Mexico after the BP oil spill, Fletcher says.
So how do you get your piece of the green pie? The easiest way to gain entry into these markets is to know about the field you want to enter, Fletcher said. That means choosing a target direction and understanding their specific needs. For example, opportunities in solar exist because panel makers provide little maintenance and repair support. As such, knowledge about the effectiveness of different adhesives for different types of photovoltaic cell installations can set you up as an expert for regional installers.
For biofuels, much of the individual successes will be driven by local conditions – what grows in one area may not be able to grow in others. As such, there's a lot of opportunity for local companies to build relationships at the start of these projects.
While some innovation may be necessary, the real opportunity may come from simply repositioning your existing products for new customers..