Sustainable success: zero-waste manufacturer grows business with Windows 10

When Megan and Marshall Dostal started making glycerin-based soap from recycled cooking oil, they thought they might have a niche business. By believing in their product and playing to each other’s strengths, they built a successful and sustainable company called Further Products. Now, Further Products uses Windows 10 and Surface Pro 4 devices to help it stay connected, impress customers, grow the business—and make the world a little healthier.

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Megan and Marshall Dostal want to live their lives more or less like everybody else. They just want to use fewer natural resources and generate less waste. An earnest and dynamic couple from South Pasadena, California, the Dostals have turned that perfectly healthy impulse into a successful, innovative business they call Further Products. The company recycles used cooking oil to make sustainable glycerin-based personal care and cleaning products.
In 2008, to run their used Mercedes-Benz, Marshall Dostal started making biofuel in the couple’s garage from waste cooking oil. The process produces glycerin as a byproduct, so Marshall learned how to make it into soap. When they sold some at a trade show, the Dostals thought they might have a promising niche product. “Like something you might sell in the parking lot at a Grateful Dead show,” Marshall jokes.
But the Dostals believed in their idea and worked hard to create a great product that’s time may have come. Today, Further Products recycles waste oil from restaurants all over southern California to make biodiesel and glycerin. It uses the fuel in the company vehicles and purifies the glycerin to manufacture a full line of hand soap, lotion, fragrance oil, candles, and cleaning products that it sells to some of the best retailers, top restaurants, nicest hotels, and biggest property management firms in the country.
The Dostals use Windows 10 and Microsoft Surface Pro 4 devices to stay connected, impress customers, and grow their business. “When I show up for a sales call at a new restaurant, I’m that woman who makes soap from grease,” says Megan Dostal. “Then I bring out my Surface Pro to show them how Further Products will work for them, answer their questions on the spot, and prove to them that we are for real.”

Two people and a lot of moving parts

The Dostals did not know much about starting a business, so they just split the work according to each other’s strengths. Marshall manages production, supply chain, vendors, inventory, distribution, and billing. Megan works on product development, marketing, social media, and communication with customers.
“I'm either working at home or on the go, and Marshall is at the warehouse,” says Megan. “We need high-level technology that is simple to use and helps us stay connected with each other all day.”
In 2015, the Dostals began working with two Surface Pro 4 devices running Windows 10 and two subscriptions for Microsoft Office 365. They both use the tools in Windows 10 and Office 365 to schedule meetings and tasks, create presentations, keep notes, manage business processes, and touch base with each other from anywhere on almost any device. They both like the versatility of the Surface Pro device with detachable keyboard, touchscreen, and Surface Pen.

The best world

Marshall had always used Macs, but he made a seamless transition to Surface Pro 4 and Windows 10. “In laptop mode, Surface Pro has the power and the programs I need, and in tablet mode, I can take it into the warehouse and start counting inventory,” says Marshall. “It’s the best of both worlds, and I’m not tied to my desk.”
If Megan is giving a presentation and doesn’t have a ready answer, she will often send Marshall a quick email or instant message. “He usually responds with a PowerPoint slide or an Excel spreadsheet that I can add quickly to the presentation,” she says. “I love it.”
Megan and Marshall use the Microsoft Edge web browser to research online, download information, or access social media. With just a touch, Megan sets Sticky Note reminders to stay on top of calls and meetings, and the Cortana digital assistant talks her through her busy day. She can use the Surface Pen to write on the tablet screen or actually mark webpages with the inking feature. She also likes Windows Hello facial recognition because it makes signing in to her device fast and easy, and it impresses customers.
“Windows 10 saves me time all day,” she says. “I can toggle between the four different things that I'm constantly doing at the same time, and I like to know that only I can open it.”

How to fuel success and support growth

When Megan and Marshall chose Windows 10 and Surface devices, they introduced portability, mobility, and easy remote collaboration to their already effective working relationship,
“Windows 10 helps us combine our different skill sets and streamline everything we do,” says Marshall.
With the mobility and versatility of their Surface devices, Megan and Marshall can work with and build relationships with a network of vendors, restaurants, and other local businesses. That helps Further Products maintain quality and consistency and helps the Dostals keep up with their growing business.
“I just grab my Surface and I’m on my way with everything I need for that next meeting,” says Megan.
The Dostals like to say that biodiesel fuels their vehicles, glycerin fuels their product line, and Windows 10 fuels their business. “Further Products offers a beautiful personal care experience that people can feel good about,” says Megan. “With Windows 10, we can be authentic, and still responsive enough that our customers know we don’t cut corners to run our business.”
As Further Products has grown from small eco stores to fashionable boutiques, famous restaurants, hotels, and major office buildings, the Dostals have noticed that sustainability is no longer on the fringe. “People almost expect sustainability now, and the more awareness grows, the bigger Further Products gets,” says Megan. “And when a restaurant, hotel, or other business puts a Further Products sign in its bathrooms, our zero-waste story becomes their story.”
“We are proof that you can turn any idea into a big idea,” adds Marshall, “if you don’t compromise on your product—or your technology. As Further Products continues to grow, Windows 10 will be with us every step of the way.”
Read the full case study here.

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Meet Surface Fan Morgan Sorne: Visual Artist, Composer and Performer

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By Mona Cao as written on blogs.windows.com
Morgan Sorne is a multi-disciplinary, award-winning prolific visual artist, musician, actor and filmmaker, boasting an unparalleled vocal range with perfect pitch. He brings listeners to tears with his intense, emotive, hypnotic angelic falsetto and has churned crowds into a writhing frenzy with his bone-rattling dynamism and range. In his own words, “it’s as if Jean-Michel Basquiat, Daniel-Day Lewis, David Bowie, Jeff Buckley and Bjork got together and had a baby.”
The Surface Pro 4 is Morgan’s proud go-to to produce music and visual art with software such as Ableton Live and Adobe Photoshop. I enjoyed meeting and getting to know Morgan this past year after inviting him to participate in a music and technology panel at Microsoft Store Westfield Century Center in LA, where he spoke to a group of public attendees about his passion and love of all thing music and art. It was in person that I got to see firsthand his skilled drawings and sketches that are as unique, expressive and thought-provoking as his sound, performance and work in other media.

Let’s hear more from Morgan on his passion and artistry:

Your work is such a unique blend of visual installation, musical composition and performance. What was your inspiration for SORNE and pursuing so many different forms of media and expression?
As a kid I was inspired by the immersive worlds created in films like Star Wars. I also grew up on stage, performing in musicals, plays, musical acts and choirs. I found that I was drawn to creating environments, having also discovered an ability to visually render characters and ideas, it felt very natural to move between mediums. Each process fed the other. Rather than fight that process, I have embraced it as my means of creating a signature point of expression.
What’s a project you’ve done that you’re proudest of?
I am nearing the end of a fifteen-year cycle of work, a multi-media opera spanning six volumes of music called, House of Stone. I brought this world to live through installations in museums and galleries, a live show featuring a dance troupe formed around the project and a series of short films which speak to the overarching themes of House of Stone. The vision for years has been to create a graphic novel of House of Stone as a companion and ultimately, a film or TV series, accompanied by a touring theatre production.
What do you like about creating on Surface? Do you use pen, touch, or a combination?
I love the portability of the Surface and use the pen to illustrate. The precision is fantastic. I also use the pen in creating animations of my drawings.
What experiences have stood out to you?
I recently created a series of animated drawings using the Surface for a TED Talk at Oxford for the Lauren’s Kids Foundation. The TED talk dealt with Lauren Book’s five years of child abuse when she was an adolescent by her nanny. As an adult she founded the Lauren’s Kids Foundation to help children identify sexual predators and unsafe situations at home and in public. Lauren’s team sent me the script for her talk and I picked certain images that came to mind along with pulling from Lauren’s ideas and imagesI’ve developed a series of animated characters for interactive packets given to students grades pre-k-8th grade throughout public schools in Florida and won a few ADDY awards for the kits our team made for Lauren. The beautiful thing is that the materials are working and kids are coming forward and identifying unsafe situations that they find themselves in. Also I recently toured Europe with CocoRosie and used the Surface Pro 4 to run my live sets and loops in some of the most beautiful venues. To be able to hop on a plane with a full live show on a device that is the size of a tablet has been a dream come true.
What do you love most about using Surface in work or life?
I love the portability of the Surface and use the pen to illustrate. The tablet feel is so important to me and I love the ability to draw right in Photoshop and Illustrator.  The precision is fantastic. I also use the pen in creating animations of my drawings. A big desire of mine for a long time has been to have a device that is the size of a tablet but with the capabilities of a laptop. Portability is essential as I travel around the world and need tools that can handle the programs necessary for executing my work.  As a traveling musician and artist I need tools that are as seamless in the visual presentation on stage as they are powerful in running the programs needed to pull off amazing live experiences. To be able to use programs like Ableton Live and the entire Adobe Creative Suite has totally enhanced the game and made it possible for me to reach larger audiences worldwide. 
What’s something recent you’re working on with Surface now that you’re really excited about?
Right now I am working on a graphic novel project with Saul Williams in which I am drawing and coloring the entire book using the Surface. I can’t talk too much about it yet, but it is going to be an incredible project and the Surface will be a central component in the production of the book and visuals for Williams’ live show.
SORNE just released the fourth volume for his epic avant garde one-man opera, House of Stone‘ You can find the latest volume, ‘House of Stone: Death IV’ here.
Check out more of Morgan’s music at sorne.com and visual art at morgansorne.com. You can also follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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microsoft vip device event managed solution

Managed Solution had a great time at the Arizona VIP New Device Preview Event @Microsoft Store Scottsdale Fashion Square. Stay connected to learn what Surface can do for your business!
Microsoft recently welcomed two new products to the Surface lineup, the Surface Book and the Surface Pro 4.
Last night at Microsoft's VIP New Device Preview, guests enjoyed a personalized, hands-on experience with new Windows 10 devices.
Interested in deploying Windows 10 in your business? Learn more about our special offers.

Arizona Contact:

Cherla Ramsey, Director of Business Development, Arizona
D: 858-429-3092 | C: 928-965-0876
cramsey@managedsolution.com

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