When Craig Moody was introduced as a Midlands Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree in 2010, the environmental consulting company he co-founded, Verdis Group, was just starting to make noise in the local market.
In more than 10 years since, Verdis Group has grown substantially as companies see the benefit of reducing their impact on the planet through sustainability planning, waste reduction and transportation management.
“For the first five years we kept saying we’re ahead of the wave,” he said. “We’re out front, we’re doing great work, but there’s a ton more that’s coming and we’re in front of the movement that is going to crash, and crash in a good way. I think one of the key things that’s changed is that the wave is upon us now.
“When we first started, we were really getting hired because people saw our ability to help them save money and oh, by the way, there are environmental benefits. That’s really shifted as well. The people we work with still like the money we save them, but they’re doing it for dramatically different reasons.”
Whether the motivation be moral or monetary, clients are beating a path to Verdis’ door. Two years ago was the company’s best and after a lukewarm 2020, 2021 picked up right where 2019 left off, with 2022 forecasting bigger still.
Prospective staffers are also drawn to Verdis’ mission.
“I’ll say that we’ve never had a huge challenge recruiting people,” he said. “A big part of that is because the work we do is pretty unique, certainly in the Midwest, and it’s purpose-driven. Young people especially want a career that’s really purpose-driven and we check that box for them pretty clearly.”
Verdis Group employs 12, mostly in Omaha. Moody said while the company had already employed a remote work model, the pandemic refined that system in a way that helps buttress Verdis against fluctuations in the local labor market.
“We love Omaha, we want to continue to bring jobs here,” he said. “But if there’s somebody we really love, and they live in Fort Collins and that’s where their home and their heart is, that’s a new opportunity to bring them onto the team yet allow them to be remote. We’ve figured out ways to make it work.”
The success of the company has spurred Moody’s personal growth as a leader, both at Verdis and in the community, something that’s noted by those around him.
“I don’t think this is said about male leaders as often, but he is deeply thoughtful and self-aware about his responsibility and his obligation to others and to the world around him,” said Stuart Chittenden, an Omaha business consultant who’s known Moody for 14 years. “He’s also highly collaborative. I mean he’s very, very competitive, but at the same time, highly collaborative and thoughtful of others. He’s driven but driven in a way to also involve other people in his journey.”
Moody’s journey includes not only his business interests but the many nonprofits he’s championed over the years as well as having been elected to the OPPD board of directors in 2017.
“As a community, I think there’s a lot to unpack,” he said. “How are we finding opportunities for younger generations? How are we diversifying the leadership of the community and finding opportunities for everyone to participate in decision-making? That’s big and that’s messy.
“We’re after, in my view, a community that is built upon the needs, wishes and desires of that community, but that takes work. And I know there are a lot of people who are mindful of that, working on it, focused on it. I just think we can’t
lose sight of it. It needs to be something we don’t take our foot off the gas pedal, so to speak.”
“I’m better for having known Craig,” said Amanda Bogner, president of Energy Studio and chair of the OPPD board of directors. “I think he is a natural consensus-builder, and he has an optimistic outlook for the community. He’s also excellent at taking a lot of information and synergizing it to get that big-picture understanding. It’s not a skill I have, so I seek it out in others, and I really appreciate it when I find it.”
Looking forward to what lay ahead, Moody was philosophical about his place in the Omaha business community and his responsibilities as a citizen of the planet.
“I think as I get older, it’s increasingly my role to not be in the middle of everything and not be doing everything, but to be ensuring that others are prepared for and have the opportunity to step into those roles,” he said. “I’m in my mid-40s now and I was definitely a troublemaking do-gooder throughout my 30s. That’s a term I really enjoy using. Now I’m just kind of interested in who are those other troublemaking do-gooders that I can coach or mentor to go out and effect change in the community. My personal mission is to catalyze systemic change for the better.”