Topics: Eco-Politics & the Green Streets

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By: Cristina Natale and Leonard M. Goetz

“We have reached the limits of our ignorance and now it’s time to invest in smarter methods"- John Harkins, president of The Ocean Group

RONKONKOMA, NY- If going green means saving your business substantial $$ in operational costs while increasing your earnings in a down economy, John Harkins of the Ocean Group may be the next guru for what he calls “eco-efficiency”. This 30,000 sq. ft. bustling industrial compound is the central plant to one of New York’s giant commercial offset / digital printing and direct mail management facilities whose recent upgrades have become a stellar new model for many Long Island businesses seeking to optimize ‘the green way’.

Having been personally affected by Long Island’s industrial waste mismanagement and toxic history from the 1970’s alongside today’s spiraling energy prices, Harkins committed his company into a completely sustainable, health-conscious, eco-safe and green-compliant business directive. His industry’s major dependency on paper products, petroleum-based materials, chemicals and electrical power drove Harkins to address the spiraling costs of these resources by applying education-backed leadership and implementing eco-smart business innovations.

“The best financial solution to any business today is EFFICIENCY—and it so happens, all our efficiency initiatives seem to carry eco-friendly traits,” starts Harkins. “We have reached the limits of our ignorance and now it’s time to invest in smarter methods … like new energy-efficient technology that requires less power and produces greater output with far less waste- that’s a win-win for us right there.”

With the help of the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) energy saving program, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Ocean Printing earns the benefits and rewards of following the safe and sustainable business regulatory guidelines. Meanwhile, being a recent FSC-certified plant and joining green business organizations, Ocean adapted many ways to reduce their carbon footprint, firm up their recycling system and use safer modern materials that many clients are actually looking for in a shop.

The Green business society recognizes Ocean Printing’s genuine commitment to eco-efficiency standards- winning major points as a preferred green printing vendor. Green businesses typically are determined to hire vendors with strong eco-safe tendencies and associations as part of the viral support of the global movement. Melanie MacKenzie, director of communications of GREENPATCH (a revolutionary eco-safe asphalt repair product) and Ocean Printing’s sponsor to the International Green Energy Council- gave top scores after a tour of Ocean’s Ronkonkoma plant. “These guys are the real deal”, starts MacKenzie. “They spare no expense in alternative and sustainable energies, recycling and waste reduction… and every square inch of this plant is accounted for with logic behind it!  To work with such a company is taking responsibility in upholding our green beliefs.”


The 2008 economic downturn reported record losses and widespread shut-downs mostly from those who banked on age-old business plans to weather the perfect storm. Harkins’ efficiency program not only presented a shield from the recession but it also helped to advance Ocean’s overall sales alongside their performance at a sizeable cost reduction. These savings allowed for competitive pricing and opened a list of new bids from green and non-green agencies alike.

From large sized energy-hungry presses and conveyor systems to a train of tractor trailers that load and unload tons of paper products daily, there is no shortage of opportunity to go green at the Ocean Group’s complex. According to Ocean Printing plant manager and internal efficiency chief Charlie Ficara, going eco-conscious means “covering all the bases of the entire manufacturing process” to more environmentally-friendly solutions. “From the soy inks that we use for all our printing, to converting to low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) press chemicals and cleaners, we’ve stepped up our standards in a much healthier way. Also- we religiously document and comply with all current disposal standards of our water solutions and waste materials. As far as energy, we revamped our entire plant to use 1/3 less energy in our lighting and bought new energy-saving press machines that we now operate in non-peak hours- saving us over 20% in our monthly power bill. These changes greatly help our environment while adding up to serious savings at the end of each month!”


As of late November, 2009, Ocean Printing was the most recent Long Island business to be awarded certification to the FSC Forest Stewardship Council Chain of Custody Standard by SGS Systems and Services Certification who was the certification body that performed their audit. This recognized organization promotes international standards, trademark assurance and accreditation services promoting the responsible management of the world’s forests and the production and consumption of all forest products.

According to Lynda Giacone, of SGS, “the idea is that we are not destroying the forests or the homes of indigenous people or wildlife.” One of the many political rewards of an FSC-certified label is the ability to “bring public recognition as a responsible business practice - earning credibility with customers and business partners as well as financial institutions and watchdog organizations”.

The FSC is known for protecting against global deforestation by tracking the entire chain of custody of each tree output - from the logging origin to the processing- right down to the supplier and the manufacturer, each hand must be an FSC certified agent. They certify a vast array of industries from furniture manufacturers, construction, printing and other users of wood and wood fiber products.Earning services certification is an involved process of audits and companywide adjustments.

The Ocean Group is a partnership comprised of OCEAN PRINTING, PRINT DIGITAL PLUS and EXPEDITED MAIL SERVICE located at 700-5 Union Parkway, Ronkonkoma, NY 11779 and can be reached directly at 631-585-2200. For questions or comments about this article, contact media relations at 516-626-0655 or email:

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