Tom’s of Maine is another great story of entrepreneurs who built an environmentally friendly sustainable brand and business.
In 1968, Tom and Kate Chappell left Philadelphia, where Tom worked for an insurance company, and moved to rural Kennebunk, Maine. As part of their goal to simplify their lives, they sought out natural, unprocessed foods and, unadulterated products. Unable to find natural personal care options for themselves and their children, in 1970 Tom and Kate decided to create and sell their own. They began with a $5,000 loan from a friend and the philosophy that their products would not harm the environment. From this small start, Tom’s of Maine grew and developed into a different kind of brand, one based on the belief that people and nature deserve respect.
Tom’s of Maine has been one of the pioneers of “green” business, manufacturing toothpaste and other personal care items from natural ingredients since 1970. The company’s products are biodegradable, packaged in recycled paper board with soy-based inks, and don’t involve animal testing. Tom’s uses wind power to run its manufacturing plant in Kennebunk, Maine, and donates 10 percent of its profits to charitable organizations.
When they first started out, this brand-new idea of natural products and sustainable companies seemed a little crazy to some. Over time more and more people have begun to believe that nature can provide many of the health benefits we need and that companies should minimize their environmental impact.
In 1988, after 18 years in business, the Tom’s of Maine leadership realized that they needed to formalize their values and beliefs into a document to help guide the future growth and management of the company. Led by Tom and Kate Chappell, the team met and grappled with such philosophical concepts as ethics, science, legality, emotion, and morality and how it all applied to running a sustainable business eventually emerging with a clear Reason for Being.
Tom’s of Maine is very clear on why they do what they do. Their reason for being is outlined below:
- To serve our customers’ health needs with imaginative science from plants and minerals
- To inspire all those we serve with a mission of responsibility and goodness;
- To empower others by sharing our knowledge, time, talents and profits
- To help create a better world by exchanging our faith, experience and hope.
In 2006, Tom’s was purchased by the Colgate-Palmolive Company. The terms of the purchase stipulated that the policies and company culture of Tom’s of Maine, a crucial part of what makes the company so valuable will be retained.
Have you tried any Tom’s of Maine products?