Manitou Group looks to bulldoze carbon emissions

By McLean Bennett

June 9, 2019

 James Green, vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for the Manitou Group, speaks to a crowd of more than 100 on Friday.
McLean Bennett/ Daily News Staff

WEST BEND — Carbon dioxide levels are up. A West Bend manufacturer is trying to help reverse that — one truckload at a time.

A corporate official with the Manitou Group, a global construction and agriculture equipment manufacturer with a regional headquarters here, said that his company has already begun implementing carbon-cutting initiatives devised over the last year by a group of master’s-level business students in Australia.

It’s showing results.

“A very favorable impact,” James Green, vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for the company, said of the effects the truck rerouting efforts have already had on Manitou’s carbon emissions.

The Manitou Group is based in France, but its North American headquarters is located near downtown West Bend. The company here also operates under the Gehl and Mustang brand names and specializes in producing farm, construction and other industrial vehicles and equipment.

 “And it’s only just begun,” Green added, noting the trucking initiative — essentially aimed at optimizing delivery routes with an eye toward cutting exhaust — will “only amplify” as Manitou continues putting the idea into practice.

The concept was the brainchild of a trio of students from a Sydney, Australia, master’s-level business school. The students partnered with Manitou recently as part of a United Nations program aimed at pairing business schools with companies around the world in an effort to drive down global emissions.

They weren’t the only ones involved in the partnership. Another group of business students at a university in the United Kingdom worked on their own environmental initiative for the company, this one involving rebranding some of Manitou’s marketing efforts around sustainability. That idea, too, Green said, has taken off with the company.

 Souvik Pal, a student at Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Sydney, Australia, on Friday presents details of a proposal he and two other students helped design to reduce emissions for The Manitou Group, a global farm and construction equipment producer with a regional headquarters in West Bend.
McLean Bennett/ Daily News Staff

The proposals by both student groups were the centerpiece of an hours-long event Friday at the company’s West Bend campus. More than 100 people attended presentations led by the students on their work. Later, attendees voted on their favorite idea, though Green said both proposals showed promise.

“I wouldn’t say any one is more creative than the other,” he said.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who spoke briefly at the event, said he applauded the company for working at cutting its pollution. He later told a reporter he was excited by the progress the initiative promised, noting he hoped the efforts would help make Wisconsin a leader in burgeoning international efforts to curb carbon levels. “Too often, we see growth as a short-term prospect,” Barnes said.

“For the sake of our earth,” he added, “we need to be more sustainable.”