More than 20 years ago, a guy was picking through his friend’s warehouse of Asian imports trying to see if any of it could make a little money. The little packets of sand didn’t seem like much, but when he picked one up again, it was warm. Ron Nadeau held in his hands the catalyst for building a business that would eventually warm people all around the world.
Starting as a one-man company in 1983, Nadeau was the man in charge — as well as the sales rep, marketing coordinator, shipping manager and R&D thinker. Upon his departure, Grabber Performance Group, makers of Grabber Mycoal Warmers, has grown into a $10 million business, employing close to 60 people.
â€œI started a business with the idea that the true bottom line was about making a difference for the environment and humanity. It’s come down to giving back to that which ultimately sustains and supports us — the earth, environment and, of course, the people who are our customers. I’ve followed my heart, trying to give back given the restraints of income, profitability, corporate politics, salesmanship and life’s ups and downs,â€ Nadeau said in an editorial column in 2001.
Anyone who knows Nadeau knows his love for people and the environment. Since his departure from Grabber in April, he’s been on the go, taking three different trips in the last month. When SNEWS caught up with him, he fessed up that he’s missing the interaction he’s had with causes that look to Grabber for help.
â€œWhat I miss the most already is the opportunity to give from a business perspective to organizations that are out with their life-line looking for help. Whether it’s environmental or humanitarian, whether it’s people doing fund-raisers or clinics, the interaction, the interface with all of those people that’s something I really do miss a lot. I’m still involved with that somewhat, but since leaving that’s really fallen off,â€ Nadeau told us.
â€œIt’s a blessing to be in a position to take advantage of the kind of power that a company has to be able to make a difference in people’s lives, an organization’s life. It’s just that — the opportunities to make a difference,â€ he added.
Nadeau was an active participant in helping others, serving on the board of the Conservation Alliance and SGMA’s Outdoor Products Council. He initiated Grabber’s involvement in Americares, the Arthritis Foundation and Habitat for Humanity. He also aided in lobbying efforts for the outdoor industry on Capitol Hill and helped create the Taste of the Outdoors.
â€œI was invited to Washington, D.C., to speak before the House Committee on Natural Resources. There are many, many members of Congress who were involved in that, and people from our industry who were involved. That was a real honor to be able to speak to the issues. It was a real thrill to work with SGMA’s Outdoor Products Council to set up the Taste of the Outdoors meetings,â€ he said.
But Nadeau won’t be losing touch with people or the environment as he continues to work with his group Shaman’s International.
â€œI’m really interested in all the issues of sustainability. I think that a lot of progressively thinking people are in business for social responsibility. They are key and essential. I believe this is part of that whole thing with consciousness and beingness. How we be, how we show up, promoting a win-win. The more we do to get in touch with Mother Earth, the more we get in touch with ourselves,â€ he said.
Nadeau doesn’t know if he’s heading to Salt Lake City for Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, but you can keep in touch with him at email@example.com.