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A powerful technology can have many applications.
That’s true of the innovation at the heart of EnviroKlenz. In the late 1990s, the company’s team began developing a process that employed high surface area Earth minerals to break down toxic chemicals that might be encountered by a warfighter or first responder.
As they proved the technology’s effectiveness, leaders found that there was potential to bring this technology home, as well.
“If you’re able to attack and break down some of the most dangerous and deadly things that first responders or military folks might encounter, you can bring that to the consumer market in different applications, as well,” Kyle Knappenberger, director of application support and quality assurance at EnviroKlenz, told The Current in a recent interview.
Now, EnviroKlenz is helping to extend the life of clothing. The company recently launched a new Laundry Enhancer that is designed to eliminate odors created by mildew, pets, smoke and more. The fragrance-free, hypoallergenic liquid can be used alongside laundry detergent, providing a boost that is designed to break down the odors at the chemical level. Available through Amazon and direct channels, the product offers a snapshot of how EnviroKlenz is factoring where commerce is heading into its own processes.
Just add water
As leaders listened to consumers, EnviroKlenz had long identified laundry as an area where its technology could enter the mix. For the company, addressing odors on clothing brought its product into every day use. It could also be incorporated into household chores. As it turned out, the washer proved to be an effective venue for the technology to do its work.
“The best way to attack odors and chemicals on clothing was to do it in the wash,” Knappenberger said. “You have a mechanism of dispersal – being the water – you have the agitation and you have the ability to put the two into contact with each other.”
While the product could help to treat odors on clothes that are particularly tough to get out, the market went beyond the weekly load of laundry.
Rise of resale
Getting odors out can also have a role in the growing resale market, as online platforms like thredUP and Poshmark gain more attention. The clothes that are sold through these channels are often heavily washed or fragranced. By removing odors, it can help to restore the item to a like-new state. In turn, this also extends the life of the garment for its new owner.
The secondhand market is likely to be in need of new solutions as it scales. After growth with the uptick of ecommerce adoption in the pandemic, it is projected to double by 2026, reaching $82 billion, according to a report from thredUP and retail analytics firm GlobalData. Within this segment, the secondhand apparel market is expected to grow three times as fast. This accounts not only for consumer preferences that tend toward seeking deals and reawakening the styles of generations past, but also the environmental imperative that many see to build sustainability into the systems at the heart of everyday life.
EnviroKlenz goes to the wash. (Image via EnviroKlenz)
The consumer’s eco-minded orientation fits with the approach of EnviroKlenz, which is working to reduce waste through its goods on multiple levels. On the product level, extending the life of the garment itself can help to keep clothing from heading to a landfill, and reduce the demand for new products that in turn takes carbon-causing emissions to create.
It’s not just about how the product is used by customers. The company also considered sustainability in its own operations. The Laundry Enhancer comes in a bag and-box package. The box is made with corrugated cardboard, which is biodegradable, while the bag can be easily removed. It’s all designed to promote recycling.
For EnviroKlenz, putting all of this together required a change. For other laundry products, it previously used plastic bottles. The bag and box uses 70% less plastic on a load-for-load basis. The packaging also brings efficiency in the supply chain. Shipping 4,000 units previously required 20 pallets. Now, it only requires two pallets to ship both the bags and boxes.
The company set out to center sustainability in its product and operations. The result is packaging that EnviroKlenz said produces 86% less plastic waste than the typical laundry bottle.
“As a manufacturer of this product, we thought, how can we help? Let’s use packaging that uses a lot less plastic, and packaging that is going to be much more compact and easily shippable,” Knappenberger said. “Those are things that are being driven by customers, and trying to do the right thing for the environment.”
Owning the supply chain
At a time when many of a consumer goods company’s processes can be outsourced, the sustainability-minded packaging shows a more direct approach. It is one of a number of ways that EnviroKlenz has control over its own operations at all levels. The company does its own R&D. It makes the key ingredients in its facilities, underscoring the fact that they are made in the USA. It does the testing and evaluation of its products, including sending them to industry leaders and influencers to ensure quality.
“Planning and making sure you talk to the right people in the right industries is important,” Knappenberger said.
Then, it packages the products, and gets them out to the right channels. Through facilities such as the production and fulfillment center where Knappenberger spoke to us from in Topeka, Kansas, it also has a sizable measure of control over the processes that move the products to customers. While it does work with some outside vendors, the overall goal is to be close to the processes, which helps the company move faster.
A shift in mindset before the pandemic’s supply chain chaos brought this about. Now it is being put into practice.
“We wanted to control as much of the process as we could so that we could deliver our products and grow the business the way that we wanted to,” Knappenberger said.
With the launch of the new Laundry Enhancer, there are opportunities for the product to go viral, and the peak holiday shopping season could bring additional interest. These all require a supply chain that is ready to respond quickly. With a focus on listening to customers and many capabilities to respond to them in-house, EnviroKlenz is ready.
Trending in Operations
On the Move has hiring news from Walmart US, Etsy, commercetools and more.
This week, retailers are bringing on C-level talent in areas such as people, operations and transformation. Plus, Kohl’s appoints an activist investor’s choice for CEO, Fanatics taps a former Snap executive for livestream shopping and Etsy brings aboard Facebook’s former general counsel.
Tom Kingsbury was appointed CEO of Kohl’s. Kingsbury was named interim CEO in December upon the resignation of now-Levi’s President Michelle Gass. Now, Kingsbury will have the job on a permanent basis. Kingsbury served as CEO of Burlington Stores from 2008-2019. Kingsbury was nominated by activist investor Macellum Advisors, which was pushing for change at Kohl’s. With Kingsbury’s appointment as CEO, Macellum has agreed to a “multi-year standstill.”
Judy Werthauser was appointed chief people officer at Walmart U.S. Werthauser comes to the teen-focused retailer from Five Below, where she served as EVP and chief experience officer. Over her four-year tenure, the chain grew from about 750 stores to more than 1,300 locations. Werthauser also served on the board of BJ's Wholesale Club, and is now resigning from that position. “I am excited to work alongside the world-class Walmart U.S. team as they bring the purpose of building a better world – helping people live better and renewing the planet while building thriving, resilient communities – to life,” Werthauser wrote in a LinkedIn post.
Mike Brewer was named chief operating officer at Crate & Barrel Holdings, overseeing operations at Crate & Barrel, CB2, Crate & Kids and Hudson Grace. Brewer brings 20 years of experience from Nike, where he served in roles including sourcing, manufacturing and supply chain. Crate & Barrel said Brewer’s appointment was part of the home retailer’s “ongoing efforts to evaluate and alter its structure in ways that help support overall growth.”
Keith Melker. (Courtesy photo)
Keith Melker was appointed chief strategy and transformation officer at JCPenney. Melker comes to the department store retailer from Wehner Multifamily, where he served as CEO. He was also a previous chief strategy officer at the Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Melker will oversee the transformation office, which includes ownership of metrics such as profitable traffic, inventory management, digital growth and strategic partnerships. With this move, Katie Mullen will remain chief strategy officer.
Blaine Trainor is joining ecommerce software provider commercetools as VP of global partnerships and alliances. In the role, Trainor will lead the headless commerce company’s partnerships ecosystem, working with companies including Deloitte, CapGemini, AWS and Google Cloud. Trainor previously served in senior leadership roles at SAP over a 12-year tenure, and also held sales roles at hybris software and Sterling Commerce.
Nick Bell, a former Google and Snap executive, will lead a new livestream shopping division of Fanatics, Footwear News reported. Bell previously led the teams behind Google Search Experience, and served as VP and global head of content and partnerships at Snap Inc. Bell will lead the Fanatics Live division, which will launch a standalone app that is geared toward collectibles.
NIck Bell. (Photo via LinkedIn)
Colin Stretch was appointed chief legal officer at corporate secretary at Etsy, effective Feb. 14. Stretch previously served as general counsel at Facebook from 2013-2019. He then spent two years as leader in residence at Columbia University Law School's Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character & Leadership, and went on to the law firm Latham & Watkins.
"Colin's extensive experience will be critical to Etsy's efforts to ensure we remain a safe and trusted marketplace, broaden our reach across all our brands, and advocate for microbusinesses around the world,” said CEO Josh Silvermann, in a statement.