The Business of Being Green

Yesterday marked the 44th anniversary of the celebration of Earth Day.

Yesterday marked the 44th anniversary of the celebration of Earth Day.

Yesterday was Earth Day—a good day to reflect about what happens to our planet which doubles as a lasting reminder to be aware of how the judgment we use every day impacts the environment. Prompted by then- Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, the first Earth Day was observed on April 22, 1970. After touring the oil spill devastation on the coast of Santa Barbara, Nelson drew on the idea of the popular teach-ins held on school campuses and aimed to coordinate environmental events organized at three colleges and extend them beyond the local university grounds. Earth Day has remained an important annual way to raise attentiveness to environmental issues at the local, state, and national level. Yesterday marked the 44th anniversary of the celebration of Earth Day.

Many companies are striving to become greener, in turn encouraging their customers and employees to do the same. As individuals, many of us choose to utilize companies that are aware of their environmental footprint and act accordingly. Many promotional products suppliers are getting into the action by offering a larger selection of products that are considered green. Products created using recycled, reusable, or sustainable material are readily available throughout the industry. In addition, suppliers provide products such as reusable water bottles and tote bags to help reduce waste and energy.

At Maple Ridge Farms, we strive to do our part to help maintain the environment.

All of our wood products are made from sustainable timber, and our chocolates are Rainforest Alliance certified.

All of our wood products are made from sustainable timber, and our chocolates are Rainforest Alliance certified.

Reduce… We design our gifts to be as earth-friendly as possible. On average, less than 3% of any gift needs to be sent to a landfill.

Reuse… The majority of our gifts include keepsakes such as reusable boxes, cutting boards or desk accessories that will be used for years to come.

Recycle… We strive to use recyclable packaging wherever possible. In addition, we recycle over 50 tons of paper and corrugated annually!

Sustainable… No rainforests have been damaged to create our gifts. All of our wood products are made from sustainable timber.

Saving the Rainforests… Our chocolates can help save the rainforests! Cocoa, the principle ingredient of chocolate, needs the shaded canopy of the rainforest to grow. Nearly all of the chocolate used in our gifts is Rainforest Alliance certified, which ensures that the farms have met the environmental, social, and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network. The more chocolate we consume, the greater the need to preserve the rainforest.

That’s why we like to say…

“Save the rainforests, eat more chocolate!”

Lockdown: How to Keep Your Data Secure

Technology surrounds us.  Not many people these days have fewer than two networked devices they use for business.  In the process of giving ourselves easy access to our professional information, though, we have to be mindful of keeping that information secure.  The Identity Theft Resource Center, which has tracked data breaches since 2005, reports 210 breaches in 2014 alone (through April 2), for a total of 4,809,083 published compromised records.  Whether you’re part of a large company or running your own one-person business, there are a few simple things to bear in mind to help protect your data:

Passwords

The old KISS method does not apply to passwords; long gone are the days when people thought a password of “password” would suffice.  Similarly, you don’t want to use your child’s name, your favorite vacation spot, or the name of your alma mater—if someone can find it on social media and extrapolate your password from it, avoid it.  Passwords don’t have to be completely random, but be sure to mix things up: use lowercase and uppercase letters, substitute numbers for letters (1 for I, 3 for E, etc.), and use allowable symbols (@ for A, $ for S, etc.).  Just make sure it’s something you can remember, as you shouldn’t write it down.

Change your password periodically—some experts recommend as frequently as every 30 days, while others recommend 90.  Also be sure to use different passwords for each instance, whenever possible; don’t use the same password to log in to your computer, access your email, view your bank account, and manage your client information.  While it can seem like a hassle, a strong password system is a solid first line of defense in protecting your data.

Antivirus/Anti-Malware Software, Firewalls and Patches

Invest in a good antivirus/anti-malware program—you won’t regret it.  While free options may be tempting, most are skewed towards a specific issue or lack the support, updates, and expert knowledge of more reputable software packages.  Before downloading and relying upon one specific option, be sure to do your research to be certain that the software meets your needs and offers the ongoing support necessary to keep your data safe.

Even with antivirus/anti-malware software, it’s helpful to have a firewall; layered security cannot be overrated.  While Windows and other operating systems include built-in firewalls, many experts also recommend using a hardware firewall of some kind in conjunction with the software firewall.  Setting firewall rules to prevent unnecessary traffic from reaching your internal network is additional insurance against a security breach.

Be certain to install patches when they’re available for your operating system and applications.  While some patches improve functionality or add features, others exist to correct existing security flaws in products.    Not installing patches leaves a vulnerability in your environment that can be exploited, so make sure to pay attention to your updates and apply the patches as they become available.

Secure Your Data

We all know how easy it is to misplace things—especially when they’re as small as USB thumb drives.  Even when we think the physical device is secure, it may be compromised.  Recall the Department of Veteran Affairs laptop and hard drive that contained the personal information of 26 million veterans, which made headlines when they were stolen from the home of a VA employee in 2006.  That theft underlines the importance of protecting data for every situation, including the loss of its storage device.  Data encryption is an integral part of this, and features such as BitLocker are available to encrypt entire drives, keeping everything from documents to passwords safer.

The need for encryption applies to mobile devices, as well; mobile management security software is available for mobile devices, such as iPads, which separately encrypts and protects data.  Experts anticipate mobile devices becoming increasingly targeted in the future, as many people employ few, if any, security features.  Loss or theft of these unsecured mobile devices can be just as compromising as any other security breach, depending on the compartmentalizing and data available on them.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course; information security is a multibillion dollar business, with advances and changes appearing every day.  Build your security environment carefully and be mindful of your data management to prevent breaches, and your information—and reputation—will thank you.

We’re a Little Nutty (…about nuts, that is!)

NutsMaple Ridge Farms has come to be known as a top source for delicious gourmet treats.  That includes our freshly-roasted Extra Fancy Jumbo Cashews, our exceptionally large and flavorful “new crop” natural California Pistachios, and our various styles of sweet or savory almonds.  Although we would never overlook our scrumptious chocolates or delectable meat or cheese gifts, this week are taking a look at some fun, interesting, and little-known facts about nuts!

Using LinkedIn to Generate Leads in the Promotional Products Industry

LinkedIn has positioned itself as a powerhouse tool for the B2B professional. Promotional Product Industry members are very active on this social media sites through networking and group engagement. Following are suggestions to help you increase sales opportunities by tapping into this networking tool.

Ready, Set…: Maple Ridge Farms in the First Quarter

Getting the year off to a solid start is essential to success!

Getting the year off to a solid start is essential to success!

After the hectic time that is the fourth quarter at Maple Ridge Farms, we look forward to the first quarter and the opportunity to catch our breaths, look around, and evaluate where we stand.  Although we enjoy the chance to get in a spot of skiing at nearby Granite Peak, there is also plenty to keep us busy in the office!

Showing Up: Keys to Tradeshow Follow-up

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Tony Guerra (MRF National Sales Manager) at a recent tradeshow.

2014 is officially here and the tradeshow season is under way.  Our team here at Maple Ridge Farms always looks forward to the opportunities to get out amongst our distributors and fellow suppliers.  It’s a chance to put faces to the names and voices we work so closely with, get great feedback on our products and services, and spark new ideas.

No matter how much preparation one puts into getting ready for a tradeshow, it’s just as important (if not more so) to prepare and handle tradeshow follow-up promptly and appropriately.  We all know that tradeshows are investments of both our time and money, so it’s important to make the most out of each tradeshow venture.

 

2014 Edition – Maple Ridge Farms: By the Numbers!

Well, it’s that time of the year again.  We would like to take a moment and say “Thank You” to everyone who helped make 2013 the fantastic and exciting year it was!  This includes all of our wonderful distributors and your customers, as well as our dedicated staff.  We know that the key to success is the partnership between us!

0001We were very excited about our catalog and website selections in 2013, and we can’t wait to get started on our new catalog ideas for 2014 (available this summer).  It’s going to be a challenge to beat last year’s, but we always rise to the challenge!

  • In 2013, the Maple Ridge Farms catalog featured 268 different items, 85 of which were new.
  • Our website featured over 145 more items exclusive to the site and/or our Outlet Store.
  • Our Canadian catalog and website included 144 products specifically for our Canadian distributors.
  • This brings the total number of items offered over the course of 2013 to over 560 different gifts!

Best of 2013: The Difference Between Pushing Products and Sharing Content in Your Email Communications

Here is one of the most popular posts from 2013. If you didn’t catch it the first time, have a look. If you read it in October, you might find an additional piece of information to help you in your marketing efforts for 2014.

At a recent reception for one of my business development groups, one of my colleagues told me it’s a challenge for their company to prepare content for their emails. She then asked, “Isn’t most of the content that’s circulated just existing material people grab from the internet? How do you come up with anything original?”

My answer? First, use content that only you can generate. Second, dig deeper to ensure that you’re a thinker, not a product-pusher. Here’s an example. 

Meet Our Team Member: Luke Aitken

Luke2Here at Maple Ridge Farms, we love taking the time to get to know our distributors better. We feel that our relationships with them set us apart and help us to provide the best service we possibly can. As part of our ongoing series, here is a look at another member of the Maple Ridge Farms team!
 
 
 Name: Luke Aitken
 Department: Customer Service
 Years of Service: 11
 
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