A Family History of Cleaning Up
Alumni Bill and Andrew Schultz
When Andrew Schultz ’91 (economics) and his brother William ’94 (communication) came out with the Wonder Tablitz™ back in 2006, they received a lot of media attention and a national award for their environmentally friendly cleaning products and revolutionary packaging. This kind of recognition is of course satisfying, but successfully carrying forward their family tradition of bringing great cleaning products into the hands of consumers has been even more gratifying.
It all began back in 1972 when Stephen Schultz, their father and husband of Joyce ’66 (physical education), joined the Canton, Mass., Benda Products Inc., an industrial chemical manufacturer. Stephen recognized that some of Benda’s formulas could have tremendous appeal to consumers. He created a consumer-friendly product package for a stain remover formula and presented it to a local grocery chain. When Benda was sold in 1988, Stephen retained the rights to the formula and its packaging. That’s how Gonzo Stain Remover became the founding product for Stephen and Joyce’s business, The Gonzo Corporation, that opened its doors in 1989.
Andrew and Bill soon joined the company as executive officers and partners. “I graduated on Sunday and went to work on Monday,” laughs Andrew, noting that his time at UMass Amherst helped him forge a pattern of completing goals. Over the course of the next decade the company developed and successfully marketed more than 40 innovative products, including the Gonzo Wonder Sponge, the Gonzo Pet Hair Lifter, and the Gonzo Odor Eliminators. By 2003 the company had grown dramatically. “We held a leading position in the market,” says Bill, pointing out that their products were sold nationally through top retailers, including home centers, mass merchandisers, hardware, and specialty stores. Gonzo’s widespread distribution created a competitive advantage, a fact that did not go unrecognized by the Harbour Group of St. Louis. The private equity firm specializing in consumer cleaning products purchased Gonzo that summer.
But rather than rest on their laurels, the Schultzes capitalized on their extensive industry experience and began exploring new ideas for innovative consumer cleaning products. “We did take a bit of time off to spend with our families,” says Andrew, “but by the beginning of 2006 we identified a need for effective products that would also deliver significant environmental, cost and convenience benefits.”
Examining the marketplace, they saw products that worked well, but contained harmful ingredients and were not environmentally friendly. They saw products that were environmentally responsible, but cost too much for the average consumer. They saw products that were a great value, but did not work well. Their answer came in the form of Wonder Tablitz™. These effective, effervescing cleaning tablets are distributed with a unique bottle that holds “built-in” refills. The technology is so innovative that the tablets are patented and the reusable bottle, which is shipped empty thus reducing costs, is patent-pending. “We think our products mark a cleaning revolution!” says Bill, who explained that the whole concept was devised on the back of a cocktail napkin.
Each Wonder Tablitz™ is based on three unique patents that allow for the “loading” of liquids and oxygen into the tablet during the manufacturing process. Because Wonder Tablitz™ products utilize liquids versus powders, they dissolve into a great cleaning product with no residue. Naturally releasing oxygen also allows for a quicker dissolve time and a more effective cleaning solution.
“One of the most important aspects of our product line is its great value,” says Andrew. “One bottle of a Wonder Tablitz™ product is the equivalent of three bottles of our competitor’s product. Ounce per ounce, that’s a savings of more than 70%. The packaging is really innovative and environmentally friendly, too. Last year it won the National Association of Container Distributors (NACD) top award in its Annual Packaging Awards Competition.” Click here to visit the Wonder Tablitz™ website and to view a “Today Show” video about the product.
Last summer, Andrew and Bill decided to diversify their line and purchased Parker & Bailey Corporation. “We realized great potential with this trusted and established company with strong New England roots,” they explain. “We did a total makeover of their wood care products and metal polishes, but the formulas that have a dedicated following among furniture restorers and antique experts to clean, polish, and protect wood and metal furnishings remain the same.”
“Our dad has taken a much lesser role in the two companies,” says Andrew, “but keeping the business family-run is a top priority. We want the companies to be fun, but we work hard and try to make the most of opportunities.” These days Andrew is responsible for the financials and Bill is in charge of marketing. They share a role in sales and attending trade shows—“lots of them!”
The theme of family for the Schultzes goes beyond the business. Through their family philanthropic collective, says Bill, “We support many different charities and organizations with educational and historical missions, including Facing History and Ourselves and Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP). Both Andrew and Bill serve on the board of Camp Bauercrest, a non-profit athletic summer camp, in Amesbury, MA.
April 13, 2009