Method co-founder Adam Lowry presented at the BBD CEO summit this year, and was excellent.
The tour reinforced what a great company this is and also showed how small and simple they really are. There is nothing going on here that is not reproducible in New Zealand. The difference is scalability – easier access to the giant US market, but more importantly the simple gumption to grow and keep growing (sustainably). As big as they are, they keep it lean, with, for example, only 1.5 people managing the social media and customer email, doing so using simple tools and Twitter and Facebook directly. The tools and numbers of staff are not the issue – it’s about having passionate and excellent people doing the work.
Increasingly graduates want to align work with their personal values, and Method sees themselves as one of very few companies who can offer that. It’s tough to get hired there, and they include homework in the process along with interviews. Retaining staff is relatively easy – Method is made to great fun place to work to keep people there. They are casual with dress and security, and deliberately so. It’s not forced fun, but authentically enjoyable. One employee said – “I’m the exact same person at home as I am at work”, and Adam was really encouraged by that. He sees that employees want freedom, and that companies can lose the plot when they institute rules, whether around around dressing, clean desks or other behaviours.
Ecover, a large European sustainable cleaning products company, ‘purchased’ Method last week. Adam characterised it as a merger – the exact deal details are private.
Each company was privately held and the new owners remain committed to continuing the same values and approach. The combined revenues are reported at $200m, still a minnow in the billion dollar world of cleaning products. It seems that Ecover is strong in manufacturing and in Europe, while Method is strong in product development and design, and the US market. It’s always difficult to make a merger of equals work, but this seems like a great combination..