Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Vacuum, a Bucket, and Becky Kliss

Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
September 27, 2012

Becky Kliss (Photo by Erik Holladay)
by Zinta Aistars

When the board meeting is over, Becky Kliss is the person you’ll see walking between the conference room tables, bag in hand, collecting anything recyclable meeting members left behind. The janitorial help? There was a time when that was true.

Now, Kliss is board president of
Michigan’s Great Southwest Sustainable Business Forum (MGSSBF), a nonprofit providing education and networking opportunities to businesses.

Kliss calls it the "triple bottom line." MGSSBF helps businesses with:

• Environmental stewardship

• Social responsibility

• Economic strength

"We help businesses achieve balance in taking care of the environment--air and water quality, energy efficiency--and employee welfare, community relations, and finally, return on investment," Kliss says. She is president of the MGSSBF chapter covering Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties.

Along with her work as president of the MGSSBF, and also sitting on the board of Chemical Bank, Southwest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (Kalamazoo) and West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (Grand Rapids), Kliss is owner of a consulting business, called Green Connections, Inc., based in St. Joseph. All of which began, she says, in 1996 with "a vacuum, a bucket, and me."

"I worked full time while I was a college student taking night classes," Kliss says. "It took me 10 years to earn my associate’s degree in business administration at Lake Michigan College." As it turned out, that work experience tied up neatly with her slowly accumulating knowledge about business administration.

"I started cleaning for Ryder truck rental," she says. "I didn’t know anything about cleaning. Nothing more, that is, than cleaning up my bedroom when my mom told me to." She chuckles.

That would soon change. With a vacuum and bucket as her business partners, Kliss opened up her own ...


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