Monday, August 25, 2008


OH. MY. WORD! Do you see that pic? I can't believe I've just now stumbled upon not ONLY this pic, but this article from 2006 (but I bet it'll still be fun to read! It's aged, like a fine wine! Or a good slice of blue cheese, no? Sure! Go along, go along, little one. Just believe and it will be so. 'Kay?) That just happens to be (left to right): Eric Ryan, Adam Lowry (co-founders), and Alistair Dorward (method's CEO.) And it CRACKS me up!

Ok, ok, on to the article, from San Francisco Business Times!

"Method: Hip design sets apart home products company
by Sarah Duxbury

There's a little madness in Method Products' workplace. There's none in its growth.

The San Francisco home products company is known for its chic packaging and eco-friendliness. While its up-ending of convention has jolted the staid consumer products category, the company is disciplined about its growth.

From the people it hires to the categories it pursues, Method rigorously jettisons anything it deems sub-par. That approach has paid off with 266.9 percent growth over three years.

Method's most pressing concern as it grows is people, since they dream up the ideas, like triple-concentrate detergent, that become industry standards. Half of Method's 58 employees have been with the company under one year. Alastair Dorward, Method's CEO, expects to have more than 100 employees in 2007.

To make sure they get the right bodies, not just warm ones, Method gives homework assignments as part of its interview process and sometimes hires new folks on a trial basis.

"We'd rather have people be 90 percent qualified and 120 percent fit," Dorward said, stressing the importance of culture. By getting the fit right, Method has yet to lose an employee to a competitor, said Eric Ryan, who co-founded the company with Adam Lowry.

Collaboration and innovation are prized qualities at the company, as is speed.

"We spent money tearing down walls," Ryan said of the open format of Method's new 20,000-square-foot downtown office.

Until now, Method has grown largely with new products. At the end of 2005, it had 72 products; today it has 159 products. Now the company is trying to get existing customers to buy more Method.

"That's what success looks like from a consumer buy-in point of view," Dorward said. "They decide they want a Method home and buy us for all their household needs."

The obvious next step to building a Method home is grouping all Method products together in a store, rather than having them scattered by product categories. Most retailers put dish soap with dish soap and dryer sheets with dryer sheets. Method wants stores to put Method with Method instead, in hopes of wowing shoppers with the colorful breadth of all their products and packaging.

"It's easier to convert an existing customer to new products than it is to convert a new customer to us," Dorward said.

Target has signed on to this radical vision, and drug retailers like Long's have agreed to do a smaller, vertical version of the same thing. Such brand-blocking, as it is called, is a "game-changer," Dorward said.

Not everything Method turns its hand to is an unqualified success.

Last year, at the request of Target, Method entered the car-care realm with Vroom. While the brand sold well, Method has since backed off.

"We decided we do better as a single-branded business," Dorward said. The company is now assessing its options vis-à-vis Vroom, including selling off the brand.

International markets will be a big part of Method's growth plan moving forward. It now sells products in Canada and the U.K, and plans to expand those distribution channels while adding new ones.

"The adoption curve of Method in Canada is more aggressive" than in the United States, Ryan said. "The consumer response has been very positive. They're more trend-forward in terms of design and ecology."

Dorward added that Method has proved itself in the hardest market -- the United States -- first, which is one reason the company is so bullish about its international prospects. But he stressed Method is not yet a global company and growth in the immediate future will fundamentally be U.S.-based.

Method plans to introduce new product categories next year, and it knows it must continue to innovate to gain marketshare against big competitors like Procter & Gamble.

Said Ryan, "We brought a little fashion to this category, and fashion is fleeting."

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