Exclusive: Green for the Consumers' Eyes

Moto Mart honored, makes environmental stewardship make sense

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

Moto Mart

BELLEVILLE, Ill. -- Jim Forsyth doesn't have lofty goals of saving the planet, but if a new technology makes sense for his Moto Mart stores and it benefits the environment, count him in.

With 73 convenience stores in six states, Forsyth, the CEO of Moto Inc., Belleville, Ill., has slowly added elements to new stores that have earned the chain local recognition for helping the environment and being a good steward to the communities.

After first replacing the lighting in the coolers and freezers with LED units, the chain was one of the first in the country to use LED lighting on its canopies.

"We put LED lighting in all the coolers and freezers to brighten them up and save electricity," Forsyth told CSP Daily News. "Then at the end of last year, the outside LED lighting became bright enough, so we installed LED lighting in all our units."

He admits part of the draw was the 50% bonus depreciation available on equipment, allowing the company to write off the lighting expense for a couple of years. And beyond that, Forsyth estimates a 40% savings in electricity costs.

But Moto wouldn't have made the change if it didn't make sense in the chain's larger strategy to serve its customers.

"The worst thing would be to put it in and make your units darker outside because they're not as bright," he said. "The new LED lighting … makes the unit glow so it really pops out. So it's good for the environment, plus we save money, plus the consumers like it."

Moto's newer, 3,500-square-foot stores also include raised, insulated and translucent skylight panels that provide natural light on the sales floor and serves as a welcoming entryway, leading customers to the back of the store and the Mojoe's Coffee offering and Quench fountain wall.

"We built four stores like this," Forsyth said. "It's an element we wanted to try to make our units stand out from the competitions' stores. It's an expensive option, but we've been very happy. We've gotten a lot of praise for doing it from a design standpoint. … It makes it feel open and customer-friendly, and the natural light is a big positive."

And the true test for any such project is whether or not consumers notice and like it.

"They market themselves because people see that it's bright," he says. "It's self-evident, and that's why you do it. If you have to tell them that it's brighter and they don't notice it, that means it hasn't been a benefit. …

"You always want to be a good steward, but the ROI is more important to us. It just so happens with LED lighting, [there's a good] ROI, but it makes the outside brighter, and it makes the coolers and freezers brighter, so it's a combination. … It's a win-win either way."

Moto Inc.'s efforts earned it one of three CSP 2013 Environmental Stewardship Awards. The awards were handed out during CSP's Outlook Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., in November.

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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