Style and substance Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2010
Finalist
Consumer Products

Adam Lowry and Eric Ryan are against dirty. That, they agree on.

But in a business sense, they look at things differently. Ryan worked in advertising and design; Lowry was a chemical engineer working as a climate scientist. At the intersection of those skill sets was the common belief that business should be an agent for positive change. They founded Method Products Inc. to shift mass consumers toward eco-friendly cleaning supplies, eliminating toxicity in homes and encouraging sustainability.

Lowry, chief greenskeeper, and Ryan, chief brand architect, faced hurdles early on. They launched their premium line during the 2001 recession, in the midst of retail sell-in and fund-raising challenges. Eco-cleaning was a tiny niche, so they had to build a mass audience. That would be tough up against goliaths like P&G, Dial and SC Johnson.

With their personal savings as capital, Lowry and Ryan started innovating chic green products. They launched the first concentrated laundry detergent, ultimately transforming the $4 billion industry. Other milestones included biodiesel shipping, vegan fabric softener and bamboo wipes. That earned them accolades like eco-leader by Vanity Fair, eco-revolutionary by Time and PETA’s Person of the Year.

But their success woke the goliaths, increasing competition. With the game at a fiercer level, Method struggled to keep up. So Lowry and Ryan conducted their first layoffs, brought in a new CEO, changed up key leadership positions and exited less profitable business units. Their top line declined for the first time since the company’s founding, but their focus on the future soon reaped benefits.

Top-line growth has returned and gross margin has improved. Method is now operating at a higher level of professionalism and profit without sacrificing its core mission and values.

How to reach: Method Products Inc., (866) 963-8463 or www.methodhome.com