Do Well by Doing Good!
NBT Brunei, one of the biggest motor vehicle distributors in Brunei, has been the market leader in the auto industry in Brunei Darussalam for the last 29 years. According to Ninan Chacko, NBT Managing Director, NBT’s dominance of the local market is not only based on goodwill, friendship, honesty and trust alone: It is all these, plus their singleminded dedication to quality assurance and its actual delivery. SME Bulletin speaks to Ninan Chacko on the issue of the Environment, Corporate Social Responsibility and employee relation strategy.
NBT is seen to be taking a leadership role in caring for the environment. Why the environment?
There are so many reasons. The whole world is one big ecosystem, so, damaging or destroying onepart of it will have an impact on other parts. For example, the unusually heavy rains and flooding in Tutong and the Belait districts (December 2010/January 2011), can in fact, be at least partly be explained, by global climate change caused by clearing of forests to make way for farms and air pollution with carbon dioxide that causes global warming.
In ecological terms, nature is a very delicate system of balances. The extinction of a bird which eats mosquitoes could result in an increase in malaria or dengue fever. So, we will be affected as well if nature is destroyed. In addition, don’t forget that we need trees to convert the CO2 into life -sustaining oxygen. The auto industry has often been accused of being damaging to the environment, especially through excessive CO2 emissions. Therefore, NBT, as well as our principals INCHCAPE PLC and TOYOTA Motor Corporation are very anxious to take positive steps even when there is no official compulsion to do so (at least, for the moment, in Brunei Darussalam).
Finally, being a responsible 21st century business operating in the Green Heart Of Borneo, it is also our moral responsibility to be fully committed to saving the environment, so that future generations of Bruneians will have a green future to look forward to.
What baby steps can SMEs in Brunei undertake to help protect the environment?
Adopting a ‘Reduce, Reuse & Recycle’ policy is a good start. NBT has gone beyond that to reach out to the schools – we have done so with St Andrews and Chung Hua, as well as put giant billboards out to urge the students, in particular, and the public, in general, to be more committed to saving the Brunei environment. Different industries can take different steps, but essentially the principles are all the same: ‘reduce, reuse & recycle’.
It is good to see that the Brunei Government is also beginning to get very involved – MIPR naturally, of course, the Ministry Of Development, is another example, and I must add that it is very heartening to see that Radio Television Brunei too has a serious green agenda in terms of its programme content. This is a strong message to the public, businesses and industries, that Brunei Darussalam is committed to a ‘Green’ future. Moreover, as the Green Heart Of Borneo, I think the policy is already pretty much in place.
How does aligning your corporate strategy with environment conservation help your business? Tell us about the progress of ‘Prius’ in Brunei?
NBT always believes that what is good for the environment, is also good for us and good for business. At the moment, consumers who are committed to the environment will purchase the Prius despite the slightly higher price. These are the conscientious individuals who wish to make a bold green statement on Brunei roads. We expect their numbers to increase. Though petrol is still cheap in Brunei, we are confident that our future is green. Accordingly, NBT now also offers the LEXUS LS600h, the RX450h and the CT200h compacts, apart from the Prius…in anticipation of growing demand in future. It is a global motoring trend.
Your company won the “Exemplary Employer Award” in 2009. What are some lessons we could learn from you in treating your employees right? Is there any correlation between happy staff and good customer service?
Most definitely. It is, after all, natural human nature. NBT has reaped the benefits of staff loyalty and their willingness to go the extra kilometre for our customers. What goes around does come back around. The NBT headquarter in Gadong has become the iconic place to visit during each festive season; illuminated with decorations that spared no expenses…
Certainly, a huge financial commitment to decorate your “store-front.” How did it start? Does it result in more sales? A commercial decision or CSR?
NBT firmly believes in giving back to the community. It is our CSR as well as the right thing to do too. After all, as you have said so yourself – this is now a very distinctive NBT contribution. In the beginning, it was more modest, but today our displays are quite grand, and have made NBT almost a ‘must visit’ each festive season. We do hope this will somehow translate into future sales. It is a big financial commitment, no doubt, but, it is worth it. We not only become the talk of the town, but the whole town actually comes visiting! It is nice to be in people’s good books and we are pleased to put smiles on everyone’s face. The community goodwill and the good vibes generated, in general, are enormous. You simply can’t put a price on something like this.