Small business: A worthy cause beneath the surface
Peter Strugatz and Miranda Magagnini display their eco-friendly material. (Photo by Marie Claire Andrea)
Brooklyn natives Miranda Magagnini and Peter Strugatz didn’t have to go far from home to make the world a better place.
The two friends wanted to turn their shared baby-boomer ideology into a business that would give back to the community.
In 2003, they partnered to resurrect a glass-recycling company in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and with a $15 million investment, they formed IceStone Inc., a manufacturer of recycled-glass durable surfaces used in kitchens and elsewhere.
“We had invested in companies like Zipcar and Stonyfield [Farm], but we wanted to find a business of our own and breathe new social responsibility into it,” said Magagnini.
The two, longtime investors in socially responsible ventures, are part of a growing network of entrepreneurs — known as B Corporations — who place people and policy alongside profit.
“We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to create jobs here and create a company our kids would be proud of?’” said Magagnini, a former marketing executive. Some 40 percent of the company’s employees are Tibetan refugees who receive English-language lessons and learn other skills.
The company has earned industry respect, too. It received the Cradle to Cradle Gold certification, an industry measurement of smart design that includes safe and healthy practices, and efficient use of energy and renewable resources. (Other companies with the certification include Herman Miller Inc. and Kiehl’s.)
IceStone redirected some 4.5 million pounds of post-consumer and post-industrial waste glass from landfills for its products last year. It has grown into a business with $12 million in annual revenues, and outfits companies such as Disney, Bank of America and Starbucks.
“It’s like organic food; it used to be about Birkenstock-wearing people — now it’s uber-corporations going green and government getting behind it in a big way,” said Magagnini.