Overcoming Long Odds
When the going gets tough, or complicated, or complex or downright puzzling, CSPA and its member companies find a solution.
Written by: Tom Branna, Editorial Director, Happi Magazine view original article
With report deadlines looming, new product development meetings turning into all-nighters and increasing regulatory pressures, FMCG executives can be excused when they get overwhelmed at the pace of their daily lives. But all those pressures were put into perspective when entrepreneur, philanthropist, supermodel and tsunami survivor Petra Nemcova took the stage to discuss the twists of her life, how she’s turned it into something extraordinary and how industry can help. Her unique story was the opening chapter to the midyear meeting of the Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA), which took place last month in Chicago.
The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed 230,000 people, including Nemcova’s fiancée, and impacted dozens of countries throughout Asia.“It was a beautiful day and in seconds, my life changed along with millions of other people,” she recalled. “But we have a choice. We can focus on the negative or focus on the positive. Positive thinking is very powerful. The mind has the power to heal the body.”
That attitude helped her overcome her injuries and her heartbreak and inspired her to create the Happy Hearts Fund in 2006. This charitable organization focuses on rebuilding safe, resilient schools in areas impacted by natural disasters. To date, Happy Hearts Fund has built 113 schools and changed thousands of kids’ lives.
“I had a huge urge to help after the tsunami; we visited many shelters,” recalled Nemcova. “But when the first responders leave, the survivors are often forgotten.”
Happy Hearts makes sure that the survivors, and the kids and families that come after them, are not forgotten.
“School is the center of a community; it affects future generations and it can revitalize a community,” noted Nemcova.
In addition to rebuilding schools, Happy Hearts is encouraging learning too; enrollment in rebuilt schools has jumped 30%.
“The power that children get going to school changes them, the community and maybe the country,” asserted Nemcova, who also serves as ambassador-at-large for Haiti.
Light the Darkness
To continue changing children’s lives, Nemcova created a luxury home décor brand called Be The Light. The initial line is a collection of luxury candles, each representing a country’s unique culture. Be The Light is also developing other soft goods and accessories for the home such as pillows, vases and picture frames.
Nemcova’s life has changed dramatically during the past decade and she’s learned valuable lessons from her experiences as an entrepreneur that she shared with CSPA members:
- Have passion for what you do. “It’s like a wildfire,” she told the audience. “And it’s catching.”
- Have confidence—in your products and yourself.
- Learn from the best in the business; it’s a shortcut.
- Listen to your instincts.
- Believe. “Thoughts are very powerful,” she insisted. “Create consciously.”
- Surrender. “Do your best and then let it go. Believe without expectations. Our imagination is limited by thoughts of what can happen.”
Like any entrepreneur, Nemcova has a five-year plan. But it’s not an exit strategy, it’s an effort to create a Smart Response system that brings sustained relief to the people impacted by natural disasters.
“There is going to be a huge increase in natural disasters,” she warned. “We’ll see disasters in places that we’ve never seen before; so we must be proactive instead of reactive.”
Throughout its history, CSPA members have responded to these natural disasters with donations to areas impacted by natural disaster.
“Many companies in this room, in times of disaster, send products to victims,” noted CSPA president and CEO Chris Cathcart. “That’s the giving nature of this industry.”
Gotta Have It!
In his opening remarks during the general session, CSPA chairman Paul Siracusa of Church & Dwight noted that the 2016 midyear meeting will move to Maryland after 62 years in Chicago. In 2016, the Mid-Year meeting will be held May 10-13 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. It’s a change, a disruption, if you will, in the routine and dovetails with the 2015 midyear theme, “Driving Change Through Creative Disruption.”
This year’s event attracted more than 400 industry executives who attended several division meetings, heard from regulators and retailers and got a preview of their future from author and entrepreneur Josh Linkner.
But before all of that, Siracusa noted that within the hallways and meeting room at many member companies, two exclamatory statements can be heard—“We need more innovation!” and “We gotta have it!”
And yet, there has to be a balance between what the consumer wants and what R&D says is possible. And while everyone demands speed-to-market, low cost and high quality when it comes to new product rollouts, those attributes are often diametrically opposed. Siracusa recalled how his team rushed a new product to market in just six weeks, only for a retailer to complain that it wasn’t innovative enough!
Reform on the Way?
Innovation may be easier for CSPA member companies if reforms are made to the Toxic Substances Control Act. TSCA was passed in 1976 to give the US Environmental Protection Agency the authority to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures. But stakeholders, including non-government organizations and industry groups, maintain that TSCA reform is necessary, as the science has.
After six years of work by CSPA and other associations, the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 may become a reality.
“We are more than cautiously optimistic,” said Cathcart.
He told attendees that Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) has shown real leadership on the issue and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) said he expects a full hearing in the Senate this month. To keep CSPA’s position on TSCA top-of-mind in Washington DC, CSPA hired Ben Dunham, a director at McKenna, Long & Aldridge LLP. Dunham had been a senior advisor to the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).
“He’s put CSPA in the best possible position as TSCA gets to the finish line,” asserted Cathcart.
At the state level, CSPA is monitoring 327 pieces of legislation in 38 states. Without a strong TSCA, retailers are introducing environmental regulations of their own.
“The absence of a good federal law means retailers have stepped in (but) no two programs are alike,” explained Cathcart.
That’s why CSPA is working with companies such as Walmart, Target, Costco and others to bring some measure of continuity to their programs. Other examples of how CSPA is engaging with other stakeholders include teaming up with the Personal Care Products Council to develop the Consumer Products Regulatory Compliance Retail Conference in Sacramento, CA, Sept. 29 & 30. Sessions will be devoted to state and federal compliance issues related to hazardous waste, RCRA air quality, VOCs and product labeling. CSPA is also engaging EPA on its Design for the Environment labeling program.
“It is in both of our interests for the program to be successful,” he reminded the audience. But it’s not just regulators and NGOs that work with CSPA.
The Association has a new website to better engage consumers, and its aerosol division contacted The View television show to set the record straight on chlorofluorocarbons, which were banned from aerosols in 1978. None other than Whoopi Goldberg herself issued a retraction. For more on aerosol division, see the results of the 64th annual Consumer Specialty Products Association’s (CSPA) Aerosol Pressurized Products Survey below. Similarly, CSPA stepped in to correct misinformation about bleach that was spilled on the Today Show. Cathcart also noted that the Alliance for Consumer Education (ACE) is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. ACE’s core programs include inhalant abuse prevention, disease prevention, poison prevention and product management. Earlier this year, ACE hired Brandon Karkovice as program development manager. Cathcart urged attendees to support executive director Sara Stickler’s goal of reaching 20,000 schools.
With such an active schedule, it’s no wonder that CSPA added 22 member companies during the past year. Finally, Cathcart recognized the efforts of Susan Little, who retired after 24 years with CSPA. Since 1996, Little headed the Research & Regulatory Management Council (RRMC), and during that time, RRMC expanded to include 37 new joint ventures, task forces and LLCs, involving various product categories.
A Chance at Rebirth
Just as companies, product categories and associations must change to survive, so to, must communities. Entrepreneur and author Josh Linkner founded several companies including ePrize, an interactive promotion agency. Linkner was a founding partner of Detroit Venture Partners, which is helping to rebuild his hometown of Detroit. In his new book, “The Road to Reinvention,” Linkner found that successful CEOs share some traits. Specifically, they:
- Encourage courage. Linkner noted that while 98% of kindergarteners say they are creative, just 2% of high school seniors say the same about themselves. Somewhere along the way, our learning systems kill creativity instead of building it. In order to foster creativity, individuals must embrace failure.
“Mistakes are portals to discovery,” he noted.
- Are obsessed with shedding the past. Linkner noted that after every play run by the Duke men’s basketball team, every member on the bench yells “next play!” The past is just that, it’s over. Move on. A century ago, Detroit was the Silicon Valley of its time. But now the city’s rebirth is tied to technology not trucks or cars.
- Defy tradition. “Challenge even the most closely held beliefs,” Linkner urged the audience. He recalled one company went so far as to offer unlimited time off to employees. The result? The number of days off actually declined.
“When you extend trust to others, they trust you back,” he explained.
- Get scrappy. When it comes to innovation, companies, regardless of size, should act like a startup by embracing risk, being idea-centric and having a sense of urgency, to name a few.
- Are obsessed with pushing boundaries. Kulula, a South African airline, has tripled sales with Boeing 737-800s that feature outrageous sayings such as “This Way Up.”
“To compete in today’s market, you can’t have incremental gains, you need a 10x advantage,” he said. “Cirque de Soleil blew up the traditional circus model. You must search for creative disruption.”
David Shan of Guilford, CT, a senior at Choate Rosemary Hall High School, Wallingford, CT, received the Murray Glauberman Scholarship Award for outstanding academic and extracurricular achievement. He will attend Columbia University in the fall to study biological sciences.Shan is the 27th student to receive the award. Since the scholarship program began in 1989, CSPA has awarded $216,000 to students such as Shan for outstanding leadership, academic achievement and extracurricular contributions and accomplishments, to aid them in their pursuit of a college degree.
US Aerosol Fillings Rise, But Fall Short of Record
US aerosol fillings rose slightly to nearly 3.8 billion units last year, according to the Consumer Specialty Products Association, making 2014 the second best year for aerosols in the US, trailing only 2012’s totals. Taking a broader view, in North America (which includes Canada, Mexico and the US and Puerto Rico), fillings rose in 2014 to an estimated 4.52 billion units— an historic high. The survey findings are an annual indicator of the business strength of the aerosol products industry.“The CSPA’s comprehensive snapshot of the North American and US aerosol industry is a powerful tool that businesses have used for more than a half century to inform planning, investment, sales and research and development decisions,” said Chris Cathcart, CSPA president and CEO.Additional survey highlights include:
- North American production rose 1.5% from 2013.
- US aerosol products production reached 3.8 billion in 2014.
- US household products production rose 1.5% from 2013.
- US insect spray production rose 8.3% from 2013.
- US personal care products production fell 1% from 2013.
- US food production increased 2.3% from 2013
- US paints and finishes production rose 1% from 2013.
Research on the data was conducted by the independent firm, Association Research, Inc. To purchase the survey, visit http://bit.ly/CSPApublications.For more information on aerosol products, visit www.aerosolproducts.org