Billy Friedman Studio City, California
Executive general manager, Jerry's Famous Deli, age 38
"Jerry's Famous Deli has been in business since 1978; we're family owned and operated. We're sort of an L.A. icon, with over 600 items on our menu and a lot of celebrities and Studio City execs who eat here. We have a delivery service with a fleet of more than 35 cars, and we drive all over Los Angeles and Orange County.
"For years we've been talking about investing in hybrid delivery cars because the price of gas is going up and up. We wanted to do something more cost-effective and more environmentally friendly. Plus, deliveries do a lot of stop and go--which is when hybrids get the best mileage, because they run more on electricity. And hybrids in L.A. can park at meters for free.
"So we bought a white Toyota Prius, blacked out the doors like a police car, and wrote 'EFD'--environmentally friendly delivery--on the sides. We park it right out front, and customers always stop and look at the car and say, 'Wow, that's really cool.' Some of them even come up and compliment us on our efforts to help with the environment, especially here in Los Angeles with the smog problems we have.
"I've been with Jerry's Deli for 14 years, and it's nice to see your company do the right thing. I think it's a great idea for other small-business owners who are looking to make an investment in the future of their kids as well as their business. We've already saved about $800 in gas just in the past six months with one hybrid car in our fleet--and now we're getting two more.
"It's nothing but positive. At first, the drivers were a little scared of it, but now all of them are fighting every morning to see who gets the Prius for the day. Only the guy at the gas station down the corner doesn't like it!" --interview by Orli Cotel
GAS SIPPERS By using hybrid and other existing technologies, U.S. automakers could manufacture new cars, trucks, and SUVs that would all average 40 miles per gallon by 2016, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. This would save 2 million barrels of oil per day--almost as much as we import from the Persian Gulf.