These in-their-own-words pieces are told to Patricia Lane and co-edited with input from the interviewee for the purpose of brevity.

Liz McBeth is committed to transforming Canada’s infrastructure for a healthy, thriving planet. As president of Armour Valve, McBeth led the company to decide it exists for the purpose of enabling an energy and industrial landscape that ensures prosperity for future generations of people and the planet.

Most companies exist to make money. Tell us about this project.

We sell valves that connect and control flow in piping systems. Although they may have a low profile, they are essential everywhere. Our valves can fit in the palm of your hand or they can be the size of a room. They can be shipped with many in one crate or require extra large trucks to move them around. If the valve is not fit for purpose or malfunctions, the consequences can be serious, even catastrophic.

Our company was created to meet a need for valves. Now, it exists to meet the societal need for infrastructure that ensures a healthy, thriving planet. We will only be able to accomplish this if we are profitable. We are more likely to remain profitable if we continue to provide excellent ISO900-certified solutions and demonstrate the value we place on employees. But making money by selling valves is not our reason for being. Doing our part to ensure a healthy, thriving planet is our purpose.

Tell us about the shift.

I became my father’s successor as president in 2019. With the start of the pandemic, my main job was ensuring our employees' well-being. We have always been a good employer, but this was a newly acute focus. I could also see there was a lot to learn about how to do business in the world that would emerge.

At the 2022 United Way B.C. Social Purpose Institute Innovators Program, I learned how we can contribute to sustainable development. We signed the Family Business for Sustainable Development Pledge and joined the Net-Zero Challenge, committing to net-zero emissions by 2040.

We are now embedding these commitments throughout the company.

As president of Armour Valve, Liz McBeth led the company to recognize it exists to enable an #energy and industrial landscape that ensures prosperity for future generations of people and the planet. #youth #climate #industry

We began by measuring our emissions. In 2022, they were 628.37 tonnes CO2e. After we account for 2023 emissions, we will establish reduction targets for 2030 and 2035.

This is a significant effort. It means a conversation with every employee at every performance review, asking them what changes they most want to see in the world and how they think the company aligns with that vision. It means choosing to use paper that is not derived from forests. Our salespeople always try for a virtual contact first to reduce our travel. We must continue to prioritize health and safety, and we are proud of our diversity and inclusion track record.

We have chosen to challenge ourselves to go to net zero from even our most significant Scope 3 emissions within the control of others. Partnerships with new suppliers will offer our customers emission-reduction options. We are thoughtful about how our products get shipped, preferring alternatives to air when possible. We cannot do this alone, so we monitor the emergence of low-emission transportation options.

We are active in industry groups and family business networks, encouraging others to join us. We seek to have impact through influence, too.

Liz McBeth, president of Armour Valve. Valves come in all shapes and sizes. Photo by Jessie Trevino

How did you come into leadership in the company?

This is a family business. We were raised in it, but as a young adult, I wasn’t interested in industry and started my career in marketing and communications. Eventually, I chose to do my MBA in Toronto to be closer to family and after my father challenged me with an interesting project, I moved pretty naturally into his role.

I have always been concerned about climate change and protecting the environment, but didn’t see a clear role to make a difference. It is very satisfying to align my values with my work.

What makes it hard?

Becoming purpose-driven is a whole-of-enterprise project and not to be done lightly. Every employee and eventually every stakeholder will be engaged. There is never enough time and each day is already a challenge for any small business in this economic climate. However, adding purpose has made many things easier. When choices are values-driven, they are easier to make.

Making the shift was not without its bumps but it has actually brought us closer as a family and our employees have even more reason to be loyal.

What gives you hope?

The shift is an advantage to us in so many ways. Young people see us as an attractive employer because their work aligns with their values. Eventually, we will have a strong competitive advantage with suppliers and customers. My 13-year-old son’s interest in the company has grown because he can see his best self reflected.

What would you like to say to young people?

Choose internships that will help you identify your strengths. Broaden your networks. Relationships are everything.

What about older readers?

A bigger shared goal than just making money or supporting the family will see disagreements resolve faster and in more creative ways.