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Alumnus advocates for green furniture

Alumnus advocates for green furniture
Tony Rotman

Tony Rotman’s interest in sustainability started with one college class at Grand Valley. The class, Visionary Thinkers, forced Rotman to think differently about the world. The results were shifted thoughts and a career change that focused on sustainability.

Since that first class sparked an interest in thinking green, Rotman has built a successful career on creating energy efficient supply chain systems in the furniture industry.

After earning a degree in psychology, Rotman worked in manufacturing facilities for a variety of companies such as Dune Furniture, Global Concepts and Herman Miller, where he learned, observed and improved their supply chain systems and ways to use energy and materials most efficiently, which included personnel management, process improvement and coaching.

Rotman is currently a production manager at Q Collection in New York City, a sustainable design firm that uses non-toxic and locally sourced materials to produce furniture. He created the current supply chain model and oversees operations including suppliers and manufacturing. He also travels to manufacturing facilities where he educates employees about social responsibility.

“The amount of fuel and energy we consume getting from one point to another is incredible,” said Rotman. “Part of my job is to continually improve the supply chain model and find ways to use less resources.”

Rotman wants to tighten the relationship between consumerism and the environment. “What’s happening right now is that most furniture is built in ways that are the quickest and cheapest,” he said. “But there are better ways of doing things, and it’s often the little, behind-the-scene things that can have a huge impact. It can start at the distribution and manufacturing points. Although plastic is cheaper to use for packaging, it’s bad for the environment and for people, so it’s very important to use other renewable materials. It’s just a matter of educating the public about it.”

Originally from Zeeland, Mich., Rotman said he enjoys living in a big city. “New York City is great. I’m surrounded by new people and ideas every day, and that inspires me,” he said.

Rotman is an advocate for teaching people about sustainable practices abroad. He is a volunteer and committee member of Self Help Africa, an organization that works with rural communities in Africa to bring sustainable solutions to the causes of hunger and poverty.

“It really comes down to thinking differently about ways to be more sustainable, and how important it is to change habits, not just ways of thinking,” he said.

by Leah Twilley

This story was filed with the tags: Careers , Sustainability