Materiality Case Study: Tennant Company

Materiality Case Study: Tennant Company

In 2013, Tennant Company revisited and evolved its strategy for the next phase of its sustainable enterprise initiative. This was a multi-step process and will be an ongoing activity as the company continuously refines its sustainable enterprise. The first step for Tennant was to identify stakeholder groups and key members of each group. For each group, the company defined its strategies and tactics for engagement. Not all groups were engaged directly or by the same methods. Where direct dialogue was not practical, Tennant employed proxies. Table 1 on the following page – “Stakeholder Engagement Strategy and Tactics” – lists each stakeholder group, the strategies for engaging them, the tactics the company used and their concerns and priorities. The company’s three primary stakeholder groups are: customers, investors and employees. These are also the most active users of its sustainability reporting.

The objective of this stakeholder engagement and materiality exercise was to identify and prioritize stakeholder needs, expectations and concerns. This process resulted in a long list of aspects on which the company could potentially report. The material aspects are covered either in the body of the company’s FY2013 Sustainability Report or the GRI Index.

For the customer stakeholder group, the company directly engaged its Strategic Accounts sales managers and “mined” customers’ Requests for Information (RFIs). Customer’s top three interests and concerns are: Greenhouse gas emissions (carbon and energy), water, and waste. An emerging area of interest is the company’s value stream, both up and down. Human rights, labor practices, safety, ethics and corruption are the core aspects asked about the company’s value stream.

Investor engagement was done through investor meetings with the company’s executives. Investors’ primary interests are economic and governance, aspects covered in the company’s SEC filings. However, there is an emerging interest in the company’s environmental stewardship and carbon reporting.

Tennant engaged its employees in two ways. First, through an all employee attitudinal survey, which the company conducts about every two to three years, and second, through a series of regional materiality workshops.


During 2013, Tennant conducted six materiality workshops. Workshop participants represented the key activities at each of the company’s major locations globally. The first step was to brainstorm the company’s internal and external impacts on the environment, society, and economy. The company then used a structured prioritization process, based on the GEMI Metrics Navigator™ tool, to prioritize the list of these environmental, social, and economic issues and opportunities. The company plotted each issue or opportunity according to stakeholder’s level of concern against the importance to Tennant’s success.

The company found many issues and opportunities were similar or related. These were grouped through an affinity mapping process. There were two outputs from this exercise:

  • Stakeholder materiality analysis matrix.
  • Focus areas for the company’s sustainable enterprise initiative. These are: Products, GHG Emissions/Energy, Waste (all forms), and People and Communities.

The final phase to establish objectives, goals and metrics was completed in 2014. For the goal-setting process, the company empaneled several small working groups. Working group members were company leaders who have a key role and impact on achieving results in a given focus area. The working groups established goals for each area that will be tracked and on which the company will focus its sustainability reporting.  These objectives, goals and metrics can be found in the focus area sections of the company’s FY2013 Sustainability Report.

Stakeholder Materiality Analysis Matrix (FY13)

Tennant Company - Stakeholder Engagement Strategy and Tactics

ISSA/INTERCLEAN® Innovation Award

Tennant Company’s Orbio Technologies Group Wins 2014 ISSA/INTERCLEAN® Innovation Award for os3 On-Site Generation (OSG) System

MINNEAPOLIS, Nov. 13, 2014—Tennant Company (NYSE: TNC), a world leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world announced that its Orbio Technologies Group’s Orbio® os3 system was honored November 7 with the prestigious 2014 ISSA Innovation Award in the Dispensers category at the ISSA Excellence Awards Ceremony at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America trade show in Orlando, Florida. Tennant Company was also a recognized recipient of the ISSA Member Milestones for their 40-year membership.

The Orbio® os3 system replaces conventional, multi-colored and fragranced daily-use chemicals with a multi-purpose cleaner and a one-step cleaner-disinfectant/sanitizer generated on site. Compact, affordable, simple—the os3 makes cleaning processes more efficient, streamlines training, and helps improve health and safety. It also decreases the environmental footprint associated with conventional packaged chemicals by reducing packaging and transportation.

“The os3 helps customers simplify their processes by replacing multiple cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing chemicals with two chemicals made at their facilities: a versatile multi-purpose cleaner and a solution that disinfects and sanitizes,” explained Karla Leis, Vice President and General Manager of Orbio Technologies Group. “Our customers appreciate the design of the system. It’s easy for operators to use, fits in most janitorial supply closets, and can be expanded throughout a facility with our unique os3 satellite system.”

“Orbio Technologies is proud of this award, which acknowledges our leadership role in the emerging OSG category. Our industry has recognized the game-changing innovation represented in the os3,” said Leis. “As the OSG product category grows, Orbio Technologies will continue to assist our customers and partners in realizing the many benefits that come with adopting the Orbio os3 and moving toward OSG, the inevitable future of cleaning,” added Leis.

ISSA Innovation Awards winners were selected by cleaning-industry distributors, wholesalers, building service contractors, and in-house service professionals who cast their votes for the most innovative products among 51 entries across five categories: Cleaning Agents, Dispensers, Equipment, Services and Technology, and Supplies.

About ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America 2014 Show
ISSA/INTERCLEAN® was a global exhibition which brought together more than 16,000 cleaning-industry leaders in Orlando, FL, November 4-7, 2014. The exhibition was hosted by ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, and its partner Amsterdam RAI. For more information, visit

About Tennant Company
Minneapolis-based Tennant Company (TNC) is a world leader in designing, manufacturing and marketing solutions that help create a cleaner, safer, healthier world. Its products include equipment for maintaining surfaces in industrial, commercial and outdoor environments; chemical-free and other sustainable cleaning technologies; and coatings for protecting, repairing and upgrading surfaces. Tennant’s global field service network is the most extensive in the industry. Tennant has manufacturing operations in Minneapolis, Minn.; Holland, Mich.; Louisville, Ky.; Uden, The Netherlands; the United Kingdom; São Paulo, Brazil; and Shanghai, China; and sells products directly in 15 countries and through distributors in more than 80 countries. For more information,

About Orbio Technologies Group
Orbio Technologies Group is the sustainable cleaning technology arm of Tennant Company. Established in 2009 to execute Tennant Company’s vision of becoming a global leader in chemical-free and other sustainable cleaning technologies, Orbio Technologies Group is dedicated to developing and marketing environmentally friendly technologies under the brand name of Orbio® that will set the standard for sustainable cleaning around the world. Orbio Technologies Group will continue to create and deliver sustainable cleaning solutions to Tennant’s existing markets and new markets. For more information, visit