Labors of Love
Whether it is through the TropiClean brand they built as a family or their many charitable endeavors, the Kassebaums have devoted their lives to helping pets and people, says president of sales Derrik Kassebaum.
Pet Business: How did TropiClean get started? What was the impetus behind it, and how has it evolved since it was founded?
Derrik Kassebaum: TropiClean is owned by Donald Kassebaum, Sr., and his four sons—Don, Darin, Derrik and Denver. It grew out of a small beauty supply business that Donald, Sr., started in the mid-1980s.
In 1986, Donald attended his first pet-grooming seminar in Chicago. He brought with him a line of shampoos and a delivery system for applying shampoo to a dog while saving the waste that typically runs down the drain—the Cosmos Shampoo System, still available today.
In 1989, through many unique circumstances, Donald, Sr., and Don, Jr., began manufacturing their own products in a small 1,500-square-foot warehouse. Around 1990, his other three sons joined the company, and together they began marketing a line of pet shampoos under the brand name TropiClean. They began with three products, which they sold to groomers around the United States.
TropiClean has products in five categories for the health and well-being of pets—grooming, dental, stain/odor, chews and medication for skin. TropiClean has distribution in 51 countries. It is sold or used in more than 40,000 veterinarian clinics, retail outlets, grooming salons, kennels and trade catalogs.
TropiClean is always pushing itself to bring new innovation to the pet industry. Creativity and innovation is at the core of what we believe and have proven. In 2015, TropiClean looks to reshape and recreate the way a bath is performed. The company is made up of big thinkers, and we are excited to unveil a new concept.
PB: TropiClean has a long history of charitable endeavors. What drives the company’s commitment to giving back?
Kassebaum: In 1991, Don, Sr., was feeling the call to serve the poor and needy. So, he turned the company over to his sons and began the venture of a lifetime for himself and his wife Barbara. When hurricane Andrew struck in 1992, they picked up their stuff and headed to Miami. They spent the better part of six months living in a makeshift shelter and serving those who where effected by the hurricane. They were performing at such a level that the National Guard asked to work with them to provide aid to the needy. For the next 10 years, Don and Barbara traveled around the globe spreading hope and aid to the poor..
PB: Tell us about Gifts of Love International. What does the organization do?
Kassebaum: In the mid 2000s, Don and Barbara began Gifts of Love. This is a nonprofit ministry to aid the poor and needy around the world. Their first true endeavor into changing the lives of children began with the purchase of a piece of property in Guatemala. They bought an old orchard and built a house on it that would hold 20 children. They then went to the government and let them know that this house was available for abused and neglected children.
The orphanage is run by two couples who have now dedicated their lives to the care of children. These children have had many different atrocities done to them. However, now they have Gifts of Love that will give them hope and a safe place. Though these children can return home when the courts believe it is safe, some will be adopted or even spend the rest of their childhood lives in this safe family. Don and Barbara just completed a second home, which will house even more children, and they are starting a third.
Gifts of Love does not just stop there though; it supports many other works and people globally. The organization helps provide food and education to extremely impoverished children in Haiti through an organization called Celebrate Jesus of Haiti (CJH).
CJH was started 12 years ago by Dave and Sonja Dickherber, a retired couple who wanted to make a difference in the lives of children in Haiti. They are addressing the lives of the Haitians on three levels—spirit, soul and body. CJH feeds over 800 children under the age of eight one meal a day. It provides a school for education to over 320 children each year. It has established a medical clinic that has enough funding to provide services to 40 children each day. It also has a church of over 600 members and provides free land to 51 families in the church to grow their own provisions. CJH does all of this with only donations.
Gifts of Love is reaching out to local children in need, as well. For example, the organization supports Landon’s Helping Paws, which provides service dogs for children with Down Syndrome.
Though it may seem that so much is being done by the works established by Don and Barbara Kassebaum through Gifts of Love, they truly could not be doing any of this without the blessing and kindness of God, all the people that work at TropiClean, and most importantly, everyone that sells, promotes, talks about and even buys TropiClean products. The Kassebaum family wants to sincerely thank the pet industry for helping them serve the poor and needy around the globe. They feel it has been such an honor and blessing to be given this opportunity to work in such an amazing industry with such a great group of people that love people and pets. PB