Monday, September 16, 2013

So, you are in a job that really isn’t going anywhere and you know you need a change but are even just afraid to look for something better. There is that business in Akron, Ohio that your Uncle owns but you want to make it on your own. Besides he has been developing his goop like a mad scientist for years and no one buys the stuff anyway. The company is family owned and is called Gojo Industries. What does that mean anyway?

The company was mostly known for their soaps. His Aunt and Uncle Jerry sold the goop mostly to working people to get grease and carbon off their hands back in 1940. Uncle Jerry saw that his nephew was struggling and offered him 50% of the company to help him sell the goop they worked on developing for so long.

He realized that the goop was an effective sanitizer great to be used when you didn’t have a sink nearby to wash your hands. He realized that when you are dirty you don’t want to fumble with having to open jars or even have to hold a squeeze bottle to get the goop out and onto your hands to do the job. Who knew that the success of the business would lie in a way to dispense the product even more than the product itself?

Yes I am talking about the success of Purell and that the success of the product is due to those white boxes filled with the clear goop Uncle Jerry said that if the company remains all his , it will probably fail. If he gives his nephew half the business maybe then he would care about making it thrive. Is this a fairy tale? Who in this world gives you half of anything and who because of a dispenser turns a company around to be worth Millions of dollars and become an industry leader? Jerry and his nephew that owns Purell that’s who.

The nephew worked with the goop and by the late 1980’s developed it into a alcohol he based hand sanitizer that was easy on the skin. He intended at that time for Purell not to be for consumers but for food and health care workers. After he developed the dispensers that we now see at every door to every building, the general public consumer was hooked on the stuff as a germ killer.

They found the right name Purell as in pure. Getting the general public to believe in the stuff was not an easy sell. They were loosing money trying to give it away as samples and advertising alone wasn’t working. Twenty or thirty years ago the belief was that nothing could substitute for soap and water. For ten years the company lost money on Purell until they participated in studies that were promoting the good uses of sanitizers. In 2002 their work paid off. The CDC, The Centers for Disease Control concluded that alcohol based products kill germs more effectively than hand washing and rewrote it’s guideline for hand hygiene in health care settings.

Then the race for the walls began and they hired an army of sales people to get those dispensers on the walls everywhere and they did just that. Now more than 100 Million people use Purell each day. The nephew’s name is Joe Kanfer and is now a very rich C.E.O. He admits that he probably would have been fired if he was working for anyone else. Keeping a family owned business alive is difficult but nothing beats the ability to be able to make the decisions

I guess you can call this a success story for a guy needing a good job but most importantly it is an American family owned success story. In ten years the company made a complete turnaround. They held onto the idea and kept pushing it and eventually Purell became a far greater success than they would have ever imagined. How proud Uncle Jerry must be now.


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