Spain | Lavola
Providing services for integral sustainability is the goal of Spanish-based firm Lavola. The company has been assisting clients with all aspects of environmental responsibility for more than three decades.
A Broadening Definition of Sustainability
Thirty-two years ago, when Lavola was formed, “sustainability wasn’t about industries or towns, it was about forestry and field,” Eloi Montcada, Consultancy Director at Lavola, said. In 1981, the company focused on education. The business slowly broadened to include communications, before evolving into a consultancy in the early 1990s. “Around the time the Olympics were held in Barcelona, we started working with municipalities, and very soon after, private companies, about how to incorporate sustainability into their business care ,” Montcada told us from his office in Vilanova i la Geltrú. “Now our LCA-related products turnover about €500,000 euro per year.”
The company boasts more than 150 employees, working in disciplines ranging from journalism to engineering. “Compared to other sustainability companies in Spain we are quite big, but in our heart we still act as a very small business, very flexible and able to adapt to our clients’ needs,” said Montcada.
Those clients include large, multinational firms like PepsiCo Mexico, Sara Lee and Nestlé and very small microcompanies. “Around 70 percent of our clients are private and 30 percent are public,” Montcada said. The company has a wide geographic reach, from across Europe and into South America.
Lavola aims to provide well-rounded sustainability to all their clients, wherever they are located. “For example, our technical team can perform an LCA and our communications team can explain the LCA in the way our clients wants. This kind of issue often helps with social responsibility,” Montcada said. “We like to say that we cover all possible sustainability needs for our clients.”
A Crucial Relationship
Thanks to an already existing relationship with Montcada, when PRé needed a new Spanish SimaPro distributor in 2008, Lavola was the obvious choice. “It was a crucial point for us, because we became a reference in the Spanish LCA world,” Montcada said.“In Spain, there are three or four top companies who perform LCAs, and now we are one of them,” Montcada explained. “One of the reasons why we are in that elite group is thanks to our relationship with PRé.”
The association has greatly pleased Lavola clientele. Montcada said they have found new clients from those who were interested in SimaPro and needed additional services. Lavola has also been able to increase the types of services provided to existing clients who might benefit from the powerful software’s many uses. “If we have a client who would like to know more about their environmental impacts, we talk with them about SimaPro,” Montcada said. Lavola has also assisted PRé in understanding the Spanish market. “We talk with PRé about our marketing, we’ve done a deep analysis of what’s happening in Spain,” explained Elisabet Amat, LCA Product Manager at Lavola.
Thanks to such a successful working relationship with PRé, Lavola is looking to grow other business partnerships as well. “We are open to other collaborations,” Amat said. “We have often been looking to PRé’s Global Partner Network for potential new relationships.” Because by working with other SimaPro partners, Amat feels that “it’s a way to look for the best in each country, in our view. If we can join with them and create a relationship, it gives us more opportunities to help our own clients and vendors. “PRé partners comprise an expert network.”
Maintaining Locally, Growing Internationally
Much has changed in the Spanish sustainability landscape since Lavola’s inception in 1981. “Investments increased a lot from the 1980s until three years ago,” when the country began experiencing an economic crisis. “Sustainability projects have decreased less than the GDP, which is an important point,” Montcada explained. In particular, voluntary projects have decreased, while compulsory projects, including licensing and other mandatory concerns, have remained steady. Incredibly, LCA projects have remained stable over the past three years. “Being stable, instead of growing, would not be good news if you were in China or Germany,” Montcada said, “But in Spain, where the GDP is decreasing, it is very good news.”
As Lavola waits out Spain’s difficult economic times, they plan to remain a top company for performing LCAs within Spain, and to continue to look for more international projects. “Our team has enough experience and enough knowledge to sell our products abroad,” Montcada said. “Now we are a national reference, in the next few years we want to become an international reference.” An established Spanish LCA leader with more than three decades of experience, Lavola will continue to offer their clients, new and old, a wide range of services for integral sustainability.