By Barbara Lewis
Three years ago when Cheryl and Stuart Badner were facing a crossroads in their life, they decided to take a daring step and turn a long-time passion into a business. When Stu’s full-time teaching position at a college was eliminated by downsizing, Cheryl decided their two girls, Zoe and Erica, were old enough that she could switch from being a full-time mom to helping her husband build a business.
When it came time for them to figure out what direction to move in, Stu explains:
“Instead of my expanding my psychology practice, we turned to our avocation…things we really enjoy doing and are passionate about…and began exploring to see if we could build a business out of that.”
They were interested in promoting a natural lifestyle and energy reduction, to see “what we could do for the environment, to make a difference,” he adds. Stu began using his research background to look for opportunities on the internet. Several possibilities came up, but, after some exploration, the one that seemed to emerge as a really good “fit” was one that would allow them to be an affiliate of a nation-wide waste reduction consulting company with over 500 affiliates across the country. Confident of the support the parent company would provide and in total agreement with their business plan, the Badners signed on to be the Northeast Pennsylvania reps for the company and committed to building their client base here in their own backyard.
“It was a natural transition in our lifestyle,” says Cheryl. “I’m so passionate about energy reduction that my kids call me the ‘Energy Police,’” she quips. “I was always getting them to turn off light switches and faucets, to recycle, and do anything else we could to reduce our use of energy. We’d always recycled, but when the children came along it became even more of a passion for us, to help them learn what it’s about and to pass the world on to them in a better way.”
“We’re people people” –Cheryl
Excited by the potential of helping businesses to scale down their energy usage and reduce expenses, they saw this as a way of sharing their individual convictions with even more people. “We love being pioneers,” said Stu. With his experience as a college instructor, as well as a river guide and ski instructor in earlier years, Stu has found that his presentation and teaching skills can be put to good use here. “We’re people people,” says Cheryl, whose career before their girls arrived was occupational therapy.
Optimistic that many business owners would be receptive to their assistance, they have found their enthusiasm and commitment has paid off. The Badners’ clients now include grocery stores, restaurants (local as well as national chains), convenience stores, residential communities and resorts. They develop an individualized waste reduction plan for each client, tailored to their pace and their needs, and they work with business owners to help them reach their goals, one of which is to reduce their waste costs. “In this economy, who doesn’t want to save money?” says Cheryl. There is no up-front cost to the customer, and the Badners’ income is based solely on receiving a share of the energy savings they realize for their clients!
A big part of their effort is helping to educate the employees of their clients and showing staff that creating solutions for their employer doesn’t make any extra work or waste for them. “It’s all about developing relationships with people,” explains Stu. Some of the employees have shared that what’s happening at work is even impacting them in the decisions they make at home. And one of the resorts actually received an award for their waste reduction efforts.
What continues to motivate Cheryl and Stu Badner to share their knowledge about reducing waste, reusing whatever can be reused, and recycling what can’t? As Cheryl says, “It’s an amazing, beautiful opportunity to really get connected to our community. So many businesses have never heard of what we do….we’re in such a great place to help.” What motivates Cheryl and Stu to keep sharing their passion to an ever-increasing number of people is their unwavering conviction that they really can make a difference and help create that better world they want to pass on to their children and future generations.