Ever wondered how you could support ethical, sustainable businesses? Welcome to a new regular series highlighting products, services and organizations that are ‘doing well by doing good’.
Icestone is a B Corp located in the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard who specialize in creating supercool countertops made out of recycled materials. For New York builders and designers, as well as home renovators looking to support local and sustainable manufacturers, it’s well worth checking out.
Part of what makes it special is how it’s employees are also owners of the company: something which helped them recover after the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, as they rallied resiliently to go above and beyond to help the business recover.
We spoke with Dal Lamagna, the CEO of the organization about what made him proud to be part of Brooklyn and it’s manufacturing community.
Please give us an overview of your organization?
IceStone sells countertops in Building 12 of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Our signature product IceStone is made in our facility our of recycled glass, cement and non toxic pigments. We also distribute QuartzStone, PaperStone, and Durat. We currently have around 30 employees between manufacturing and management.
How did you get started with this idea?
Till the creation of IceStone, cement countertops were poured in place in people’s homes. The predecessor company to IceStone created a way to mass produce 52 ½ x 96” slabs that could be installed by a fabricator. IceStone’s co-founders acquired this company. I was their original investor.
What is the purpose of this organization?
IceStone’s purpose is while making a return for its shareholders (which includes its employees) to operate responsibly and have a positive impact in the world. We have a triple bottom line, People, Planet and Profit. Our entire business model is based on being good for the planet, good for it employees and generating a profit.
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What are you proudest of?
We are most proud of our practice of employee empowerment. We pay a living wage, subsidize health care, make every employee a part owner, embed employees in every level of decision making, teach them how the business works. We are also pretty proud that we have diverted an estimate of over 13 million pounds of glass out of the waste stream.
How do you think you are different to your competitors?
We make IceStone right here in Brooklyn. We are a B-Corporation founder
What do your customers/community say about your organization that makes you happy?
That we are a model how all business should operate. That we care about people, profits and the planet.
What is your favorite story about your organization?
The day after Superstorm Sandy hit our factory was submerged in 5 feet of water. We did not have flood insurance. When I arrived after the high tide receded the factory still contained a foot of water. For me, it was game over. However, the employees disagreed. “We can fix this”, they said. They invented squeegees out of wide brooms and were pushing the water out of the factory.
Instead of closing, I got an SBA Disaster Loan and the employees took apart every one of the 70 motors and cleaned or replaced over 3,000 electrical parts.
(Click here to read the NY Times story about it. http://nyti.ms/16kBEpl)
What difference do you make in people’s lives?
We make our employees feel valued. One employee said he used to say he drove a forklift truck now he says “I am a partner at IceStone” . We give our customers worry free countertops to put into their living spaces.
What are your plans for the future?
Become profitable and provide remarkable service for people who are renovating or building kitchens, bathrooms or any space requiring countertops by helping them choose a countertop and the people who will fabricate and install them. We recently brought on Durat, a recycled solid surface material that has been seeing a lot of success. So we are really aiming to expand the product lines we distribute moving forward.