Opportunity in Adversity

By Tom Branna, Editorial Director | June 16, 2011

The Consumer Specialty Product Association's midyear meeting celebrates those who get through life's tough spots to reemerge wiser and better for their struggles.

When you’re going through hell…keep going. The global economy went through its own kind of agony from 2007 through much of 2009, but 2010 represented a turnaround. Last year, many consumer product companies reemerged as strong or even stronger than before The Great Recession took hold.


No wonder, then, that the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) midyear meeting theme was “finding opportunity in adversity.” The meeting, held last month in Chicago, attracted nearly 450 attendees, an increase of 2% over last year.CSPA chairman John Abplanalp of Precision Valve recalled for attendees the pains his own company went through during the economic slowdown.

He urged the audience to keep focused on the endgame, noting that those who can adapt to change emerge stronger, more capable, more humble and better positioned.

“It’s not about defeating adversity, but handling it and keep moving forward,” he said.

Once again, the CSPA midyear meeting is well attended. All photos courtesy of CSPA.

Moving forward through adversity characterizes the Association’s efforts during the past few years too. Association president Chris Cathcart, an accomplished pilot, knows something about adversity. He recalled that getting through flight school wasn’t easy, but once a pilot gets through it, he or she can get complacent, a bit cocky and that’s when problems begin.

“So whether it’s a flight plan or a business plan, you are responsible,” he told the audience. “Anticipate everything. It’s about managing risk, planning accordingly and doing everything possible (to succeed).”


CSPA president Chris Cathcart explains some of the pitfalls of being a pilot.

That’s the tack CSPA took in dealing with complex issues such as TSCA reform, EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The same can be said about CSPA’s Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE).

“We formed a group to talk about how people abuse our products,” he reminded the audience. Now, ACE has partnered with Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twinsto Strike Out Inhalation Abuse.

“Flying isn’t dangerous, crashing is. Make a flight plan and then go,” he concluded. “Sometimes you fly through hell, but you keep flying and you keep going.”

What Makes You Happy?

Christopher Gardner knows something about going through hell and he wrote about it in “The Pursuit of Happyness,” his story of struggling as a homeless, single parent, trying to pursue his dream job as a stockbroker. Gardener knows his story isn’t unique in today’s America.

“In the past few years we have created white collar homeless; it wasn’t caused by drugs or alcohol. It was caused by life and sometimes it can be just as lethal,” he told the audience.

Gardner entertained the audience with his Horatio Algers story, and provided a sobering message at the same time. His father left the family and his stepfather was abusive. Despite the hardships, his mother, Bettye Jean Gardner, inspired him to be anything he wanted to be.


Mark Your Calendar for New Horizons 2011, Oct. 16-19

CSPA’s New Horizons 2011, “The Evolving Face of Cleaning in the Early 21st Century,” will be held Oct. 16-19 in Ponte Vedra, FL. Session topics will include:

• Retailers’ Goals for Consumer Products, Emerging Packaging Trends—This session will explore some of the major new packaging trends impacting new consumer products including innovative delivery systems, new lightweight and durable packaging materials, sustainable and green packaging solutions and the important role packaging plays in new product innovation.

• Shifts in Global Raw Material Supply—This session will shed light on the ever-changing supply and feedstock for raw materials. This willinclude the growing use of imported raw materials particularly from China and the Pacific Rim in the formulation of consumer products. Also there are shifts in the raw material feedstocks with recent focus on renewable or plant-based feedstock.

• What's New in Industry & Academia?—This session will review the newest technologies commercialized or in some cases still underdevelopment, which will impact the consumer product formulations of tomorrow.New raw materials revealed by industry and academia offer new and unique properties, which may help improve or lead to the development of new cleaning products for your company.

• Emerging Global Marketing Trends—Learn about marketing trends around the world which in many cases in the past have led tomarketing strategies adopted in the U.S. This session will include new marketing trends in both developed nations as well as the developing regions of the world, which may provide a fresh perspective and new ideas for marketing innovation.

• The Future of Sustainable Cleaning—This session will look at the future of sustainable cleaning as the industry continues to strive to reduce water consumption, raw material usage, heat, and/or excess mechanical energy in the many cleaning applications that affects businesses.Both consumer and institutional sustainable cleaning will be explored and the importance of their role in the future discussed.

For those looking further ahead, the 98th CSPA Annual Meeting will take place Dec. 4-8 in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

More info: Ann Wheeler, awheeler@cspa.org; Website: www.cspa.org

As a sales rep in the computer industry, Gardner dreamed of a job in finance, but spent a year trying to break into the industry. When he finally got his break, he quit his sales job, much to the chagrin of his wife.

From there, things only got worse for Gardner, as unpaid parking tickets landed him in jail for 10 days. When he finally got out, his wife and 14-month-old son were gone. Ultimately, he got his son back, but the pair spent more than a year moving from hotels, to boarding houses to the street. Through all the misery, Gardner continued to pursue his dream of a career on Wall Street, but the $1000 monthly paycheck from Dean Witter Reynolds wouldn’t support him, his son or a new wardrobe and throughout the internship, he alternately wore a gray or blue suit.

“People would say, ‘There’s Chris Gardner. He’s re-enacting the Civil War,” he joked.

Ultimately, Gardner took a job with Bear Stearns & Company and managed to save enough to rent a house in Berkeley.

In 1987, Gardner formed his own company, Gardner Rich, and sold it for millions in 2006. Over the years, Gardner received the Father of the Year Award from the NFL (2002), the 25th Annual Humanitarian Award and the 2006 Friends of Africa Award, presented by the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (LACAAW) and by the Continental Africa Chamber of Commerce, respectively. He currently heads up Christopher Gardner International Holdings and a sequel to “The Pursuit of Happyness” is in the works.

Despite his success, Gardner said that his proudest achievement was being able to break the cycle of violence and poverty in his family.

“Whatever was a problem for me, will not affect my children,” he told the audience.

Working with Walmart

When your employer is the world’s biggest retailer, every supplier wants to work with you. But Walmart senior product developer Jim Scalfani can pick and choose suppliers as he sees fit. To make sure that your products end up on his short list, Scalfani offered five absolutes that products must pass in order to end up on store shelves.

1. Map to market. Figure out who the competition is, if it is a first to market and how important is the product anyway?

2. Support change with history. Understand why the product makes sense for the retailer and the consumer.

3. Talk to experts.

4. Keep it fresh. “Nobody buys the exact same thing more than two times,” he told the audience.

5. Complete the box; i.e., offer products that pull a room together.

Scalfani provided some insights on everyday products, noting, for example, that the Clorox bleach jug handle scratches his hand every time he picks it up. He also urged the audience to know each retailer and where they stand in terms of price. For example, Bloomingdale’s is the next tier above Macy’s.

“Find the reach, but keep it competitive,” he suggested.

Other Sessions

The CSPA Antimicrobial Division’s midyear session included a presentation by Stephen Tomasino of the U.S. EPA’s Office of Pesticide Program. His office recently hosted CSPA members at its microbiology laboratory, where the two organizations reviewed testing methods such as Use-Dilution Method and OECD Quantitative Method. The two groups are trying to agree on issues such as source of carrier, “the results could be non-reproducible due to the choice of carrier,” explained Tomasino, as well as the preparation and standardization of the inoculum.

In an Air Care Division session, Karen Doskow, an industry manager with Kline & Co., reviewed the latest trends impacting the air care category. She noted that during the past decade, Yankee has surpassed S.C. Johnson to become the No. 1 player in the category, which is now in second place. Rounding out the top five players are Bath & Body Works (Limited Brands), Reckitt Benckiser and Procter & Gamble. During the past decade, U.S. air care sales have risen 6% a year to reach $3.3 billion. And while candles were the top environmental fragrance choice at the start of the millennium, they’ve seen their share erode as diffuser sales pick up. At the same time, according to Doskow, innovation is driving price points higher. A decade ago, candle prices ranged from $2.99 to $12.50, while diffusers cost $.99 to $5.99.Last year, high-end candles and diffusers could cost as much as $35. Popular scents include apple, green tea and citrus.

Although consumer interest in candles has waned, sales still reached $1.45 billion (retail) last year, according to Kline’s research. Yankee remained the No. 1 player in the candle market, followed by Bath & Body Works, S.C. Johnson, Candlelight and Blyth. Doskow noted that all the major players introduced smaller sizes in recent years and that fruit and baking scents were popular in 2010. The big fragrances for 2011 are pomegranate and lemonade, according to Kline data. The biggest news in the segment is Airwick’s return to the category after a five-year absence with its 40-hour scented candle collection.

Diffuser sales reached $1 billion last year, led by S.C. Johnson, Henkel, Reckitt Benckiser, Bath & Body Works and Procter & Gamble. However, according to Doskow, the popularity of reed diffusers is beginning to wane.


Chris Gardner

Finally, the speaker described room sprays as a declining market, led by S.C. Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser, P&G, Henkel and Bath & Body Works.

Overall, Doskow predicted that the air care category will post slower, 2-3% growth in the future, led by direct sales and other new channels of distribution.

Record Aerosol Fillings

U.S. aerosol production reached a new high in 2010, according to results of the 60th annual Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) Aerosol Pressurized Products Survey, which was released during the Aerosol Division program. The estimated total units filled in 2010 was 3.745 billion, which establishes the historical high for fillings in the U.S., exceeding by almost 7 million units the 2005 record. Household and personal care products rank as the two highest production product categories, with household products reporting a 9.2% increase to more than 1.03 billion units filled. Personal care fillings rose less than 1% to 1.0 billion units. Insect spray fillings increased 10.7% to more than 253 million units, marking the first increase since 2007.

“The new report confirms that aerosol products continue to be popular among consumers,” said Cathcart. “This industry delivers to the marketplace a variety of innovative products—from first aid to food products, from air care to automotive care—via this unique packaging form which offers convenience and efficiency.”

The survey, which also reports the unit volume of aerosol packaging components manufactured and delivered for domestic use in 2010, as well as estimates for Canadian and Mexican production, has served for 60 years as the primary index of the business strength of the aerosol products industry. Illinois is the aerosol capitol of the United States, producing more than one third of all aerosol products made in the U.S.

With strong growth in Mexico and Canada as well as the U.S., CSPA estimates total North American aerosol production in 2010 as 4.227 billion units, another record. North America maintains an approximate one-third market share of global aerosol production.



Song Wins Glauberman Scholarship

The Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) selected Rennie Song from Plano, TX, as the 23rd recipient of the Murray Glauberman Memorial Scholarship Award. Since the scholarship program began in 1988, CSPA has awarded a total of $180,000 to be used toward the pursuit of a college degree and selected 23 students nationwide to receive the honor.

This CSPA-sponsored scholarship, which is awarded to one person annually, provides a high school senior with a four-year, $2,000-per-year college scholarship. The award of the scholarship recognizes a student whose leadership, extracurricular contributions and accomplishments, in and out of school, has been exemplary.

Song, who graduates this month a 4.5 GPA, scored a combined 2370 on her SAT college admissions test. Additionally, she received the White House’s 2010 Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the 2010 AP Scholar with Distinction Award and the 2009 Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Award.

In the fall she plans to attend Dartmouth College.

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