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Do The Right Thing: How Danby Inadvertently Renewed Itself

We as business leaders look to drive our companies in a positive direction while remaining accountable for what they produce. We need to challenge ourselves with doing both, and doing both well.

When was the last time you stepped back to look at your business from the 1,000-foot view and considered what can be done for both? Keeping in mind customer first, then cost management and profitability, what are the things you could do as a leader today to make a change for tomorrow, next week or next year?

In 2015 our executive team at Danby Appliances made the decision to bring reverse logistics in-house. Our thinking was “We are experts in the field of home appliances, particularly refrigeration; let’s use our expertise and create a competitive advantage for the environment, customers and Danby stakeholders.”

We are now seeing the full, positive and unexpected after-effects of that decision. In particular, we’re seeing changes in four key areas. If you’re considering bringing reverse logistics in-house, the ripple effect may surprise you. Here’s what we’ve learned over the past few years as a result.

Lower Costs

This wasn’t a surprise as it was the reason we brought reverse logistics in-house in the first place. What we didn’t expect were two new product lines that came out of this.

Through some ingenious engineering, we’ve repurposed our built-in and stand-alone wine coolers and beverage centers, and created a Danby Fresh Eco line of herb, micro greens and flowering plant appliances for resale. This not only cut down on our scrap tonnage but also opened a new sales channel with growing potential.

Following a similar approach, we launched an air conditioner rental program this past spring. Utilizing returned, perfectly working portable and window air conditioners that we fully refurbish, our new Danby AC Rental Program is able to offer consumers a lower-cost alternative to buying an AC this summer.

The benefits of the rental program are three-fold: less waste going to our landfills; consumer access to a service that’s not commonly available in our marketplace; and the creation of new jobs at Danby this summer.

Employee Empowerment

“Keep a Danby in the Home” is a program we created that ensures our company brand stays in the consumer’s home and reduces environmental waste. If a consumer contacts our support team with a product issue, our team has several options to ensure the problem is resolved quickly and the consumer leaves the call satisfied.

Our priority option is offering a replacement unit — either a new or Danby Certified remanufactured unit with full warranty — followed by providing a full-credit refund, or offering an in-store credit. These options all improve consumer satisfaction and give our support team the flexibility they need to offer a faster path to resolution.


The past two years opened our eyes to new ways we can repurpose our products, the aforementioned Danby Fresh and AC Rental Program being two examples. Over the next few years Danby Labs will expand the possibilities. We’ve already invested more in our Research & Development teams, including industrial design, to create new product offerings and support the test procedures and quality of our refurbished products. This will only grow and improve as Danby expands our portfolio of product offerings and services.

Corporate Responsibility

Corporate responsibility should not be viewed as a burden or expense. Rather, it’s an opportunity for your team to think beyond what you’ve always done. As a Canadian-owned and operated company, Danby Appliances is committed to “doing the right thing” for our environment and stakeholders.

Our commitment to this mission is proving beneficial in many ways. Already we’ve reduced the amount of scrap going to our landfills by over 50 percent; eliminated Styrofoam in our remanufactured product packaging; and uncovered new uses and channels for our products, such as our new Danby Factory Outlet Stores.

Lastly, our initiatives have created 60 new employment opportunities in facilities in Alabama, Arizona and at our corporate headquarters in Guelph, Ontario.

It may be tough to do the right thing, but it is possible. You don’t need a corporate strategy to start introducing positive measures for the environment and your business.

Shauna Gamble is COO of Danby Appliances, a leading manufacturer and distributor of microwave ovens, ACs, dehumidifiers, and compact refrigerators and freezers in North America. The Canadian company is currently celebrating its 70th anniversary.