Adam Lowry, The Man Behind the Method (Cleaning Products)



Method cleaning products are the fitting accoutrement for the style and hygiene-minded ecophile. But Method is more than boutique toilet bowl cleaners; it is booming into one of the great success stories of the new economy. Adam Lowry, with his business partner Eric Ryan, has reinvented his field (and made huge returns). Method is a certified B Corporation, its products bear the Cradle to Cradle seal, and renewable energy and upcycling are daily fare. Adam Lowry explains to TreeHugger what's new in the lab, and divulges Method's problem-solving motto: "What would MacGyver do?"

Listen to the podcast of this interview via iTunes, or just click here to listen, right-click to download.

Also check out our interview with Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab.

Full text after the jump.
TreeHugger: Give us a quick perspective on the size of Method—what's the reach, the size, the revenue?

Adam Lowry: Well, we try not to pin down our revenue numbers (specifically because there are a lot of people that want to know that info) but we're north of a $100 million company; we've got 100 employees or so, and we've gotten there in about seven years, which is pretty quick when it comes to soap companies.

TreeHugger: Method is certified as a B Corporation. We recently we spoke with Jay Coen Gilbert, the co-founder of B Corporation, and we heard his perspective on this. But I'd like to hear yours. As an entrepreneur, what does it mean to be a B Corp?

Lowry: I was really excited when I met Jay and heard about his vision for B, because what it does is codify and make legally binding what Method is already doing in its business practices. What's really missing right now for sustainable business is a clear and transparent set of metrics for what is environmentally and socially good in a business.

And what they're doing is filling that gap, the social and environmental version of generally accepted accounting principles, so that we have a standard measuring stick that we can use to assess the social and environmental quality, along with the financial quality, of a business. And because it's publicly reported and it's completely open and transparent, it also creates an incentive to improve over time. It's a real apples-to-apples way of measuring businesses versus one another, as well as creating that incentive for all businesses to strive to get better over time.

TreeHugger: Method is also certified as a Cradle to Cradle business. Method must be one of the few companies that carries both of these badges. What do these mean, how do they work together, and do they overlap at all?

Lowry: I think that's a great question because there is a proliferation of environmental quality labels or eco-labels out there. We like the ones that are most broad-based, the ones that assess the broadest set of things, not just a product but an entire company's practices. And the B rating system goes all the way down to the way that your business is governed and its board composition, for example. And Cradle to Cradle assesses the entire life cycle of a product and how it's made.

So those are two very broad-based validators of environmental quality, and therefore ones that we really like. And we've chosen to go ahead and get certified by both of those agencies.

There are also other product certifications that are narrower. We have the Design for Environment recognition from the US EPA, which is about the chemistry that you use in the product. That's another nice one.

But ultimately, I think the role of each one of these is really just to have an objective third party validate the environmental and social quality of the product or service that you're providing. And then it's our job, as the people running the business, to make the brand meaningful to consumers so that they understand that the product experience they're going to get is superior to what they might get with another brand.

Tags: Advertising | Alternative Energy | Biodiesel | Cleaning | Corporate Responsibility | Economics | Environmental Certifications | Life Cycle Analysis | Plastics | Recycling | TreeHugger Radio

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