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Weimans Cleaning Up

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | September 1, 2010

Weiman Products is on a roll. Sales are up, despite the recession, and according to CEO Carl DeMasi, the company has invested in infrastructure and product development that will keep it moving ahead.

There are good things happening in Gurnee, IL, home base for Weiman Products, a manufacturer of premium home cleaning products for the consumer and healthcare markets. For starters, this privately-held firm has posted a 134% 4-year total revenue growth rate, earning itself a spot on Crain's Chicago Business 2010 list of Chicago's 50 fastest growing companies.

Much of that growth stems from an extensive rebranding endeavor Weiman embarked on in late 2009. This ongoing effort has included a complete redesign of its logo and packaging and a website makeover.

Some well-targeted media spending and new distribution has helped too, according to chief executive officer Carl DeMasi.

“We coupled this with a complete redesign of our website and numerous ads in women’s magazines including Redbook, Martha Stewart, Oprah, Real Simple and Good Housekeeping. In addition we have had excellent reception to our new products with several major retailers adding them to their cleaning sets,” DeMasi told Happi.

Weiman has also rolled out a number of new products, the latest of which is a new gas range cleaner and degreaser which has been designed to offer a quick solution for breaking down grease, grime, residue and burned on foods on drip pans, grates and grill grates.

Tackling specific cleaning issues—think glass top ovens, stainless steel appliances, tarnished silver and dried candle wax on a dining room table—has been key to Weiman’s success, and the firm will be taking a similar tack in the future. According to DeMasi, in the pipeline is a new disinfectant wipe “that will exceed all others in terms of the organisms it kills, the time it takes to work and in addition it will be neutral ph and safe to use on any surface without leaving a residue or sticky film like others on the market.”

The firm is also focused on delivering green products to consumers, having partnered with EPA to obtain Design for the Environment (DfE) designation.

Weiman offers a number task- and surface specific cleaners, such as this Glass Cook Top Heavy Duty Cleaner & Polish
“Weiman has always had a reputation for making safe quality products and we saw the Dfe program to be a perfect fit for who we are and what we are about,” said DeMasi. “We see our green products continuing to establish Weiman as the company you come to for products that work not only for the consumer but the environment too.”

According to DeMasi, many families are confused and wary of green products due to “greenwashing” and “the fact many do not work up to expectations or cost a steep premium over the alternatives.”

He continued, “We have made sure that every Dfe product we have developed meets or exceeds all others on the market without costing the consumer more out of their pocketbook.”

Health Care Business
In addition to its consumer business, Weiman’s operations include Weiman Healthcare Solutions, which specializes in the development and manufacturing of surgical instrument detergents and lubricants. The unit—which has 40 dedicated employees—also sells private label versions of its formulas for major OEMs in the hospital, physician, dental and veterinary markets.

“We have continually over the past 25 years developed new and better chemistries for these markets and are one of the leaders in enzymatic cleaners,” said DeMasi, who said that this division represents approximately 35% of Weiman’s overall sales.

Looking for further growth, Weiman Healthcare has branched into FDA/EPA contract manufacturing and will roll out a new products for the medical market that will allow “hospitals to save thousands of dollars per year when cleaning laparoscopic equipment,” DeMasi noted.

Positioned for Growth
The firm’s rapid growth has attracted attention, admitted DeMasi.

“Weiman Products has definitely become an acquisition target as we get inquiries every day,” he said, noting that officials are not interested in selling. “All of our efforts are put to growing our business and maintaining it for years to come,” he said.

According to DeMasi, even with just 100 employees and one manufacturing facility, Weiman is holding its own in a marketplace in which some of the biggest names in the household cleaning compete.

“Our largest competitor due to the number of categories we compete in would be Reckitt Benckiser, but at this point, Weiman truly is the overall leader in specialty cleaners by a wide margin.We have over 11 items in our line which are number one in sales as per IRI food, drug, and mass scanning data,” he said.

But riding on past successes isn’t an option for Weiman. The company has made major expenditures in 2009 and 2010 to increase its production capability including adding in-house wipe manufacturing and installing new automatic equipment, a micro lab and state-of-the-art logistics system.

In addition, Weiman has furthered its reach internationally, having expanded distribution “substantially into Canada, Mexico, Central America, Japan and China. This year we will be adding Korea, Chile and Turkey to our areas of distribution,” DeMasi said.

However, like all firms, the recession has impacted Weiman’s business. According to DeMasi, consumers have cut back on purchases for the home and they are also cutting back on any elective surgeries or medical care, which has affected both sides of its business.

Even so, Weiman’s sales topped $57 million in 2009, and they are up 5% so far this year. And DeMasi is confident that Weiman has set itself up for the best outcome by taking a hard look at its manufacturing operations.

“We have made a commitment to new equipment that will speed our manufacturing and lower our overall costs for years to come,” said DeMasi. “In addition we have validated various chemical offsets for our batches in order to keep our options open and our costs to a minimum without sacrificing quality.”

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