2016 was a great year for us. Not only did we move into our own dedicated production space, but we had a lot of fun doing it. Here's a recap of our goals from 2016. Some of them went awesome (we have a production space!), while others went well - but not as well as we had hoped.
We've always enjoyed talking to you in person at stores and events, as well as online. We were really excited in February of 2016, when we added a dedicated production space to the list of places you can talk with us.
Too much of what happens in the cleaning products industry is secret, taking place behind the closed doors of a laboratory or production facility. To help people understand their cleaning products better, we want to show our processes to anyone that wants to visit us in Chicago. We aim to create a space where people can see for themselves how our products are made, ask questions, and walk away having learned something worthwhile. Think Willy Wonka, but with higher safety standards and a little less chocolate.
We learned a lot from all the great questions and feedback we got from everyone. Thanks!
We aren't a perpetual motion machine, which means we create waste when we manufacture our products. We measure this waste as pounds of discarded landfill and recyclable materials, normalized to revenue. In case you forgot, our 2015 results were 3 lbs. of waste to the landfill and 14 lbs. of to the recycling center per thousand dollars in sales. Our goal is to continually get better and reducing the waste to the landfill and recycling facilities by 10% each in 2016.
We did GREAT on our reducing our recycling waste, cutting back 30% from 2015 to 2016. A lot of this came from being able to buy in much larger quantities. Barrels of organic coconut oil and pallets of washing soda create a LOT less waste than buckets and boxes!
One drawback of our very own production space is that we had to do a little construction to make it work for our needs. That meant drywall, wood, and other demo debris had to get tossed out. We kept (and reused) as much as we could, but some wasn't salvageable. Production landfill waste did improve by 7% over 2015, but since we can't simply ignore what went out our door as waste, so this construction waste is included in our total numbers.
As a small manufacturer, keeping costs of our goods down is always tough. We can't buy train cars of washing soda, so we can't get the best prices on things. We also buy from as sustainable of a source as we can find that meets our quality requirements, adding additional costs. While this might hurt one of our bottom lines, it helps the other two, and that makes it a trade-off worth making.
As we lower our costs, we get better budget flexibility to pay our staff and expand our sales and marketing activities. This lets us reach more people with our products, which starts the cycle all over again. Hooray!
Wrapping up 2016
We did manage to improve on EVERY goal we focused on, which is super. You'll see how we plan to build on that in 2017. Thanks to everyone who's been along for the journey so far. You've helped us learn and grow!
Now.....bring on 2017!