February 2013 | Case Studies | Reader Profile

Sander Eth: Putting Green Principles Into Action

Tags: Education & Careers

Sander Eth

Sander Eth is senior vice president, supply chain at Bambeco, a Baltimore-based direct merchant specializing in ecologically friendly products for the home. He joined the company in 2012.

Responsibilities: Inventory management, fulfillment center operations, and vendor compliance.

Experience: Several in-store management positions, followed by corporate positions in inventory management, merchandising, and logistics and supply chain, Staples.

Education: Tufts University, BA in economics, 1986.


Originally, I wanted to work as an advertising copywriter. I joined Staples' management training program, thinking sales experience would improve my copywriting skills. I planned to stay for six months, but I worked there for 24 years.

Staples was my second family, and leaving took a great deal of soul-searching. But I'm thrilled with the decision I made in 2012 to get out of my comfort zone by joining Bambeco and moving to Baltimore. It's fun working for an early growth company, and I'm happy Bambeco is aligned with my environmental beliefs.

One of my main roles is applying Bambeco's environmental principles to the supply chain. This involves working with vendors to make sure they use green packaging and follow sustainable practices; ensuring shipments move as carbon-neutral as possible; and implementing green practices in our fulfillment center.

Bambeco sources about 55 percent of products from North America and 45 percent from overseas—mainly from Western Europe and Asia. We receive products in our new fulfillment center in Baltimore, and inspect them to ensure they were delivered in perfect condition. We warehouse the products, and, with the help of a parcel carrier, distribute them to customers.

Our products include glassware, dinnerware, and other delicate items. When customers open our boxes, we want them to feel as though they're opening a gift. In the future, we might work with carriers to evaluate the packaging for outbound shipments. There may be packaging that's greener, but still allows carriers to deliver products in pristine condition.

One of my most satisfying career achievements occurred when I was still with Staples—organizing a volunteer project in conjunction with Cradles to Crayons, a nonprofit in Boston that provides clothing and school supplies to underprivileged children. Staples donated product and labor to fill 20,000 backpacks with school supplies, and helped with the logistics of delivering the backpacks to schools.

To help develop efficient, economical, and environmentally friendly processes at Bambeco, we need the right supply chain professionals.That means investing time and money in hiring, and developing training programs. It also means sitting down with representatives from colleges and universities that have supply chain and environmental studies programs. My ideal candidate would have a background in both.

Some important lessons I've learned in my career involved hiring decisions that didn't work out. When that happens, I try to use the experience to hone my ability to read people and hire those who can help build an optimal supply chain team.

The Big Questions

What's your alter-ego dream job?

Managing a baseball team—specifically the Mets, because I grew up in New York.

Do you have a hidden talent?

I make a spinach and feta cheese omelet that is as good as—or better than—those served in Baltimore's famous diners.

Of whom are you most proud?

My daughter. After two anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgeries on the same knee near the end of high school, she worked so hard at her physical therapy that she was able to make her college varsity soccer team as a freshman.

What do you do to recharge your batteries?

Cycling. I used to participate in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, a 192-mile charity ride for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. That ride required a lot of preparation. Now that I'm in Baltimore, I like walking through the Canton and Fell's Point neighborhoods.

What's on your Bucket List?

Owning a boat. I've been living on a boat temporarily, while I look for a permanent home in Baltimore. I love every second of it, and now I want one of my own.