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Green, clean, tied in a bow

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Ribbon manufacturer Cream City Ribbon crafts an eco-friendly operation with UPS.

Cream City Ribbon may use 100-year-old machines to manufacture its all-natural ribbons, but 21st century technology is at the heart of its success. The thriving small business remains true to its made-in-America, artisan roots while delivering an earth-friendly, vibrant product.

Eric Crawford, Cream City Ribbon owner, encourages other small business owners interested in adopting sustainable practices to start with a simple, inexpensive idea, such as carbon neutral shipping.

Located in Milwaukee, and named for the color of local brick buildings, Cream City Ribbon uses machines imported from Europe almost a century ago to manufacture ribbon for individual users, small stores and large retailers. Powered by renewable energy and using 100 percent cotton yarn, sourced and responsibly dyed in the United States, the manufacturer bonds ribbon with water-soluble adhesives and brands it with soy-based inks. Sustainability is integral to the business.

Eric Crawford, an ardent environmentalist and experienced corporate executive, purchased the company three years ago. One of the first things Crawford did was modernize the company's manufacturing order system and integrate it with UPS technology, saving an estimated $35,000 in technology costs and 400 man-hours a year in the process.

Proud and paperless

"When I acquired the business, we were using WorldShip® but it wasn't integrated with our manufacturing and orders system. I knew there had to be a better way," Crawford says.

Crawford replaced the server-based manufacturing system with QuickBooks Online Essentials, a small business accounting system. He integrated WorldShip software and Quantum View Manage® tools with QuickBooks using OzLINK®, an order management and fulfillment solution available through the UPS Ready® Program. UPS Ready solutions give customers access to third-party technology, which is integrated with UPS services.

Cream City Ribbon's orders are pushed from the company's website directly into QuickBooks and OzLINK, which processes the orders and connects with the WorldShip platform. In addition to saving money, the process is nearly paperless.

"We used to print production orders, but now we print a single packing slip with QuickBooks. We used to print invoices. We eliminated that. We've eliminated massive amounts of storage and paper," Crawford says.

Totally automating the order entry and fulfillment process also helped the company improve customer service. Crawford says, "Our time to get customer orders out is at least a day faster."

Quantum View also helped reduce "where-is-my-order" customer calls. "This freed up one of our employees to move from handling those calls into a sales support role," Crawford says.

Going green without going broke

The 5,000 packages Cream City Ribbon ships each year account for a major part of its carbon usage. The company offsets the usage with UPS carbon neutral shipping.

"We are green people doing a green job in a green way," Crawford explains. "I want to work with companies that have shared values. I had a goal to be a sustainable business, and UPS already had a program established. At 5 cents per package, it was simple and painless."

Crawford communicates his company's use of UPS carbon neutral shipping to customers on shipping labels, invoices, Quantum View messages and his company's website.

Cream City Ribbon exemplifies how sustainable business practices can save a small business time and money, while still improving the customer experience. Crawford encourages other small business owners interested in adopting sustainable practices to start with a simple, inexpensive idea, such as carbon neutral shipping. That's how to earn a green ribbon.

Sustainable options

Learn more about offsetting your company's carbon footprint.

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Mary Anne
Great article!
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