Pizza Fusion, based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and its co-founder Vaughan Lazar, are the subject of today’s interview. Pizza Fusion is a delivery and eat-in pizzeria that serves healthy, organic food, natural sodas, and is currently one of the fastest growing green franchises in the world.
EG: The list of eco-credentials that you have achieved at Pizza Fusion is impressive. Could you describe a few of your initiatives just to give readers an idea of just how far you’ve gone?
VL: We wanted our food to be green, so our ingredients are mostly organic and locally sourced if possible, but not just to stop there. Our buildings are LEED certified, our delivery cars are hybrids, all our uniforms are organic cotton, all cleaners used in the restaurant are earth friendly, natural pest control is used, we buy countertops made from recycled bottles, we have heat exchange units on top of our stoves that heat our water, and the stores up north will also get their heat from there. All of our paper products are 100% post consumer paper, and we use soy inks, and alternative papers are used when possible. Our menus, for example, and on sugarcane pulp paper. Water consumption and energy consumption are key, as in the restaurant business, these are chronically wasted, so we opt for energy star certified appliances when possible. We also provide health insurance for employees with 25 or more hours worked per week.
EG: That’s incredible. You’ve really covered your ground, not just as a green business, but as a Blue business, as advocated by Adam Werbach and others, pushing into the social, economic, and cultural issues around business as well as the environmental. What led you down this path?
VL: I have always been tied to the environment, and am a steward. I surfed all my life and feel connected to the earth that way. It’s so important to enjoy what you’re doing, so I spent 10 years running a non-green business, and I just burned out. Then my partner and I started thinking about this and said, “Can a green business make money?” We wanted a place where we would want to work. And we want that to extend to our employees as well, which is one of the reasons we offer health insurance to part-timers.
EG: You also do quite a bit of community education and outreach around green and health. Do you find the benefits of that to be worth the cost?
VL: I’d argue that this is our best marketing, actually. We do a kids organics class on weekends, we do beach cleanups, we donate bikes to the Boys and Girls Clubs.
EG: What advice would you give to perspective ecopreneurs considering starting a green business?
VL: Do your homework, due diligence, see what else is out there, and see if it’s something you really want to do. You want to be able to think, “This is a business I really want to work.”
Pizza Fusion currently serves communities in 16 locations, with 15 more currently in development. See www.PizzaFusion.com for more information.
Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on Google Plus
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