Biokleen started in 1989 with a vision of creating products that were safe yet effective for the home. Jim Rimer, your father-in-law, started the company because he was aware of how many chemicals were lingering in average cleaning products. Were you always passionate about natural products or did you learn about their benefits over time?
I think I’ve always been interested in doing the right thing and not harming other people. It already fit in with my values. Jim started BioKleen but Cindy, my wife, has been here for 20 years. She’s taking a break right now but she was a big part of my introduction to natural products. It really hit home when we had kids. I think it’s a natural progression for people to care more about their kids than themselves. Now I’m at a point where I care about myself too so I really pay attention to what kind of lifestyle I live, what comes into my house and what goes into my body. Kids have such a greater sensitivity to toxins than adults but in the end, when they say “warning: pregnant women and children should not consume this,” it’s probably safe to say that adult males shouldn’t either.
In college I probably used the cheapest laundry detergent I could find but there also wasn’t the same type of availability back then. In today’s world, the younger people are way more aware of the need of this type of chemistry than people were back then.
How would you describe the company’s overall values?
We’ve always tried to do the right thing and that started with Jim. One of the good things to look at is our laundry detergent. If we just watered the product down, used a bigger cap and a bigger jug and make the consumer think they’re getting a better value, we’d be a much bigger company than we are today. Same with our powders. If we just put more salts in and used a bigger scoop, people see the big box and think they’re getting a great deal but concentration reduces packaging and shipping. It’s also a better value for the consumer because they’re paying for active ingredients instead of just packaging. Then you look at the waste and how many bottles are going into landfills.
Jim started this company because he was concerned about human safety. He actually didn’t plan on going into natural product retailers. He thought that it would be a product that janitors and housekeepers would use because he found out that these people’s hands were splitting open and they would have a sore throat at the end of the day. Every carpet cleaner knew a carpet cleaner who had cancer. Human health and safety is one of our key attributes. That’s the foundation of the company.
Along with that, conscious capitalism comes into play too. We want to manufacture something that’s worthwhile. To do that we have to make enough money to stay in business. At the same time, we don’t want to rip off the consumer. There are lots of ways that companies have cheated the consumer, such as selling a product that doesn’t work. You can have all plant-based ingredients but if the product doesn’t clean your clothes, you’re ripping off the consumer. We’ve always made sure that we have effective products. If something doesn’t work, we don’t sell it.
How do your products positively impact people’s health and the environment?
We have a mantra here that less is more. You’re saving more water with the packaging reduction that results from our concentrated products. There’s really no great way to make plastic so if you abuse the system and use more plastic than you need, that’s harmful to the environment.
And you offer an eco-bottle for some of your products.
Yes, we do and that’s a great product that we’ve launched in the past year. It’s a compostable, plant-based shell that’s made out of recycled content. It’s not a plastic elimination but it’s a plastic reduction so that’s the key there. It’s still a concentrated laundry product so not only do you reduce the plastic but you’re shipping less.