ASBO International Strategic Partner
Virco, Inc is America's leading manufacturer and supplier of furniture and equipment to the K–12 market, providing thousands of customers with popular furniture items. Large domestic manufacturing and warehousing facilities in California and Arkansas enable Virco to give you the classroom furniture industry's best combination of products, color choices, and lead times.
Virco's industry-leading resource recovery and recycling program has been repeatedly honored by local, state, and national organizations, including the United States Environmental Protection Agency. In addition, Virco offers the classroom furniture industry's only Take-Back Program that helps schools recycle their out-of-service furniture.
Committed to providing the best selection of furniture and equipment for educators, Virco is a longtime supporter of the school business profession. Active in ASBO International for more than 50 years, Virco has honored outstanding practices and new ideas in the profession through the Pinnacle Awards, sponsoring the awards program from its inception 15 years ago.
Strategic Partner Spotlight
Don Curran, Facility Manager, Virco, Inc.
For most businesses, any program undertaken is done so with the bottom line in mind. Not so with Virco, which has a long history of simply doing the right thing. Their outstanding recycling programs are great examples, and they can be traced back to one man: Don Curran, the current facilities manager.
A native of Conway, Arkansas, which also happens to be home to one of Virco’s facilities, Don served a short stint at Virco in 1973 before moving to Louisiana, only to return to Virco in 1977 as a night shift clerk in the production supply room. Within a couple of years, he switched to the day shift, and by 1982, he had taken on other responsibilities in addition to filling replacement part orders and ensuring the supply room was organized.
A self-proclaimed neat freak with an unwavering work ethic, Don was approached by his supervisor, who was impressed with the continuously meticulous state of Don’s large work area, and asked if he would lead a general clean-up effort of the facility’s interior and exterior. Always up for a challenge, he rose to the occasion.
Fast forward to 1988, when the company began looking at their trips to the local landfill—they were numerous, and Virco was contributing 252 cubic yards to it each day. They formed a “War on Waste” committee, which asked for and followed through on suggestions from employees to decrease Virco’s waste. This continued for a couple of years before a “dumpster diving” event—which involved picking through discarded items thrown in dumpsters—to see what was being thrown away. Management was taken aback to discover that more than 500,000 pounds of cardboard was being discarded, and this was the impetus for a recycling pilot program. Once again, they turned to Don for leadership.
Despite the fact that there were no recycling facilities in Conway and Don had no experience with recycling, it didn’t seem to faze him or anyone else! Virco’s history with recycling up until that point had been limited to metal and oil. They added paper and some plastics, and by 1991, Don was asked to recycle everything possible. In late 1993—just four years after Virco launched its pilot program—the company had reduced its daily landfill contribution from 252 cubic yards to just 6! In 2002, Virco launched a program offering to take back any product the company had built since it opened its doors—dating back 65 years—for recycling. It is the only furniture company in the United States that provides such a service.
In its early days, Virco recycled 7 different items; today, that number is up to 47. To date, the company has recycled about 380 million pounds of various items, and even better, updated equipment has resulted in less waste, therefore reducing the need for recycling.
In addition, Don has led various community outreach programs through Virco, including “Cash for Cardboard,” which began in 1993 with one school that requested the company’s help with a cardboard recycling drive. It has grown to include 35 schools in 8 districts, and since its inception has raised about $190,000, all of which is given back to the schools.
Virco has received a host of awards and recognition for its corporate recycling and waste prevention activities, ranging from the Arkansas Recycling Coalition Award to the Keep America Beautiful Award to being featured on Discovery Channel’s Today’s Environment
. Don serves on a number of boards pertaining to recycling and enjoys participating in events that protect the environment.
“I still have as much passion today as I did in when I came in the door in 1977,” Don says. “I love it. When I have to leave, it will hurt!”
Let’s hope that’s not anytime soon!