When possible, try to encourage walking, biking or carpooling. My kids love to socialize with their cousins when we carpool together to our weekly Sunday family dinners!. Always explain why single-use items can have lasting effects on the environment. Invest in reusable water bottles, straws, or other environmentally conscious items instead of buying plastic products in bulk.
As a part of my series about what we must do to inspire the next generation about sustainability and the environment, I had the pleasure of interviewing George Gebran. He is the co-owner and COO of U.S. Egg. In addition to helping lead U.S. Egg’s many sustainability efforts, which include implementing a recycling program, purchasing carbon offsets to become carbon neutral and donating deep fryer oil to the Arizona Biofuel Company to be transformed into alternate fuel — to name a few, George transformed the breakfast eatery’s unused egg shells into pet treats.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
During my time at Arizona State University, I explored many different career paths but nothing felt right. When I came to the food industry, I knew that I wanted to grow and succeed in my own brand of food service. I had a passion for it and wanted to continue my family’s legacy in providing excellent service and quality meals. This career path is simply in my blood. Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of a good breakfast and a fresh cup of coffee in the morning!
What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?
Our mission at U.S. Egg is to supply healthy and sustainable meals to our guests at an affordable price point. Unfortunately, people are accustomed to going to restaurants where the quality of their service and quality of food do not reflect the prices on the menu. When you come dine with us at U.S. Egg, our quality of service will match our quality of food.
Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?
In order to address sustainability, we stand by our Corporate Social Responsibility agenda. We believe that putting the people and the planet FIRST will naturally increase profits. Over the course of the last few years, U.S. Egg has been making steps to shift towards more environmentally sound practices without compromising our business plan. We have shifted to acquiring meats and vegetables from local sources. We have started a recycling program within the shopping center at the Tempe, Arizona location. We also donate our deep fryer oil to the Arizona Biofuel Company where it is turned into alternative fuel for vehicles. These are just a few examples of how we have shifted towards becoming a sustainable business.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
I believe it is possible to be environmentally conscious while also increasing profits. When I first began managing U.S. Egg, we were receiving up to 18 deliveries a week at six dollars per delivery. By simply expanding our storage area, we were able to reduce that number to only six deliveries a week. Doing so allowed us to not only reduce our carbon footprint but we also became more profitable. Instead of spending up to $5,616/year on delivery fees, we reduced that to about $1,872/year.
The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.
Five things that parents should do to inspire the next generation to become more sustainable and environmentally conscious are:
- When possible, try to encourage walking, biking or carpooling. My kids love to socialize with their cousins when we carpool together to our weekly Sunday family dinners!
- Always explain why single-use items can have lasting effects on the environment. Invest in reusable water bottles, straws, or other environmentally conscious items instead of buying plastic products in bulk.
- For plastic products that can’t be replaced, create a family recycling station! Make it a fun activity for everyone to recycle as much as they can in the house. In my house, the more my kids recycle the more money they get in their allowances as reward.
- Teach your kids to shop sustainably by researching companies that offer “buy back” programs where you can donate worn products and get a discount for new ones in return or introduce them to shopping at second-hand thrift stores. Also be sure to donate any out of season or outgrown clothing to those in need rather than simply throwing them out.
- Lastly, conserve energy by teaching the kids to turn off their electronics and endorse outdoor activities as a substitute. With my own kids, I like to have my kids participate in various forms of organized athletics and outdoor exercises.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- You need to be passionate. If you’re not 100 percent passionate about what you’re doing, my advice to you is to stop doing it. In order to know the type of hard work it takes to be successful, you must be motivated to get there and passionate about your own product — believe me, eggs and bacon aren’t hard to be passionate about!
- On top of that, any entrepreneur must be able to persevere through adverse times. The world is a crazy place and is constantly changing-and so is the world of business. There are always new trends and challenges that arise so it’s important that a business owner is able to adapt, overcome, and persevere through the harsh inconsistencies of their respective industries.
- The product itself is an important part of a brand. It not only is what you are selling, but it is the purpose of a business in itself. It is important to conduct constant quality checks to ensure that only the best quality is being served to the consumer.
- It’s important to have a humble and giving attitude. I hold the ideal that the more you give back to the community, the more you will receive.
- Most importantly, a business isn’t a business without its people. As a family owned and operated business, U.S. Egg built our brand on creating genuine and lasting relationships with our guests. We put effort into creating a warm environment in which people feel cared for so that they may look forward to returning in the future. The truth of the matter is this: no matter what industry you are in, or how successful you become, the future of your business lies in the hands of the people, and the relationships you establish with them.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am extremely grateful for Doctors Ken and Skip Pollock. They played an integral part in making me the businessman I am today. They believed in my abilities and motivated me to believe that I could make a difference. Doctors Ken and Skip Pollock partnered with me, and that is where my path to becoming a sustainable business owner began.
You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire a movement to a group of people in order to invoke change, it would be to encourage corporations and people to recycle egg shells! Eggshells are bad for the environment but a great source of sustainable calcium for humans and pets. As a company, we have done research and discovered that eggshells do not decompose when dumped into landfills. To do our part in the ecosystem, we have been separating our eggshell waste and have the shells recycled into calcium supplements for pet consumption since 2018.
Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?
My favorite life lesson quote that I live by is: “Innovation is hip, yet threatening.” I strongly recommend that aspiring entrepreneurs watch “predator versus prey videos on National Geographic. You’ll be reminded how brutal the jungle is and how someone is always trying to steal your lunch. In this case, you are the predator and the prey is the industry you’re trying to penetrate. Be ready for a fight. You’ll have to work 80 to 100 hours per week and sleep at the office. But take that first step. Don’t be afraid. Have confidence in your stride.
What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?
The best way to follow us on social media is to follow U.S. Egg on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We are constantly posting pictures and writing updates about our restaurant and what our latest promotions are. We help to promote charities, events, contests.