We sat down with our founder and managing member Richard Kincaid to learn more about his professional background, his perspective on the changing global marketplace and his dedication to making sagegreenlife the leading resource in sustainable building.
Can you walk us through your professional background and how these positions ultimately led you to establishing and managing sagegreenlife?
My career has taken a circuitous route: After growing up in Ellinwood, Kansas, a small town of around 2,500, I was hired from the University of Texas master’s program to join The First National Bank of Chicago and later Barclays Bank PLC.
In 1990, I joined Sam Zell’s company, Equity Office Properties Trust. After working as the chief financial officer and the chief operating officer, I was promoted to chief executive officer and was the point person for helping the company go public in 1997. We went from nothing to $39 billion in value in the span of 17 years.
Working for Sam impacted how I think about everything. Sam created a casual office atmosphere before everyone else, he broke down hierarchy, he created a sense of urgency and he encouraged everyone to think like an entrepreneur. It’s what every company is trying to do now, but this was in the 1990s. I quickly learned how to navigate early-stage companies at Equity Office, including how to manage rapid growth with absolutely no road map for what we were doing.
Most importantly, I learned that people are capable of great things with the right leadership. It was a classic education in making things happen.
How did the opportunity with sagegreenlife initially present itself and what about it attracted you?
My business partner discovered Biotecture’s living green wall products in Europe and approached me about them. My initial thought was: This just makes sense. I thought, if you can create these beautiful environments anywhere, why wouldn’t you? Our living walls are great for the environment, for health and wellness and for productivity. You can easily feel good about them, and your customers will feel good about them.There are also inherently diverse ways to make money from these products: There are applications in civic, hospitality, retail, residential and commercial settings.You’re starting with a product that people already love – plants – and making it easier, cleaner and more energy efficient to integrate it in their lives.
Did your experience at the country’s largest owner of office buildings influence how you think about the places where people work and how they could be improved?
Businesses have always grappled with maximizing office space versus their employees’ desire to be there. The workplace environment is becoming increasingly important as millennials define what the new office looks like. Think: high-end gyms, expanded food service and day-care offerings.
It’s hard to build a high-performing team if you never see each other. Companies need to make the office a place their employees want to be where they feel motivated, creative and cared for. Attracting and retaining top talent should be top of mind, especially as the workforce shrinks in the coming decades.
Having plants in a workplace has been shown to increase productivity and a sense of wellbeing, and our living walls allow employers to integrate nature into indoor environments in an easy-to-maintain, energy-efficient way. It’s a win-win.
What do you find are the most exciting and the most challenging aspects of your job running sagegreenlife?
The most challenging part is making sure we have enough resources for demand but not knowing when demand will hit. It’s the basic concept of managing growth. It is rewarding to see people appreciating our products in their day-to-day lives. To see how living walls are starting to become more prevalent in the U.S. is very gratifying. Now, there is literally no reason not to create healthier environments, both indoors and out.
Why is the time right for sagegreenlife to refocus its commitment to the architecture and design community?
I view sagegreenlife as being a valuable partner and tool for the architecture and design industry. We are here to help architects and designers create environments that are healthier, more sustainable and more beautiful. We want people, designers specifically, to think of sagegreenlife walls as not only versatile and beneficial, but as a necessary material to include in projects of all types.
What would be your dream project and why?
I would love to essentially take over a city with living walls all over the place: along roadsides, in pocket parks and in various public spaces. Just think how the air quality and noise reduction of that city could be improved. It would also be fantastic to find a brand that appreciates and values sustainability so much that they want their audience to be immersed in a vibrant green oasis while they are seamlessly sharing their brand story.
What are your goals for sagegreenlife? What are you most excited about for the future of the company?
I’m most excited to simply build this brand that I believe in so deeply. By identifying untapped opportunities, making strategic partnerships and continuing to bring the best living wall products to the market, I believe sagegreenlife has unlimited potential to grow.