Lean and Green

Tropiclean succeeds by focusing on what it does best and committing to being all natural and “green.”


Tropiclean, a manufacturer of natural and holistic pet products, hits its 20th anniversary this year, and according to director of sales Derrik Kassebaum, the company has learned a few valuable lessons along the way. Mastering abilities such as being able to put customer feedback to good–and profitable–use and staying true to its guiding principles has enabled the company to carve a comfortable niche for itself in the grooming products market.

For the past couple of decades the Tropiclean brand has been expanding its reach with its lines of grooming products, including shampoos, conditioners and, most recently, oral care products. The brand kicked off with the release of products for professional groomers but entered the broader pet specialty retail market in the mid-1990s. A few years later, it secured shelf space in a major specialty retail chain for the first time, Kassebaum says. The company’s skyward momentum was propelled, he adds, by its keen ability to best the competition.

“We are a solutions-based company,” he says, “which is obvious because almost every product is unique to the industry and has not been tried before; or if it has, we’ve drastically improved the product, instead of coming out with a ‘me-too’ item.”

Rather than depending on intuition to pinpoint consumers’ wants and needs, Tropiclean relies on retailers, groomers, veterinarians and others who buy or retail their products for feedback from actual pet owners. “This is not so much for the purpose of making the all-mighty dollar, but for meeting consumer needs,” Kassebaum says.

Tropiclean’s latest introduction is in the oral-care category. It’s “fresh made breathe made easy!” line includes several all-natural products that Kassebaum says tackles a typical, reoccurring problem in a new way. The products, which include the Clean Teeth Gel Kit and the Instant Fresh Foam, promise to reduce plaque and tartar and kill germs that cause bad breath–no toothbrush needed.

Tropiclean is backing the product with ample resources. The company has supported the launch with a generous advertising budget and pushed for widespread retail distribution. “We wanted to make sure we had the product in a lot of stores before we started telling the consumers about it–otherwise they’d go to the stores looking for it and wouldn’t find it,” Kassebaum says.

Strong Sales

The company’s strong sales are being driven in large part by customers looking to upgrade their pet supply purchase. Kassebaum says consumers are actively looking to improve the quality of life of their pets and setting higher standards for the products they buy to help accomplish this. They are also applying similar standards of self-care to the care of their animals. “What they buy for themselves, they will buy for their pet,” he says.

The  company takes pride in its recent decision to use 100-percent recyclable, post-consumer plastic bottles made of recycled milk cartons and water plastic–a move that aligns with the company’s all-natural, earth friendly promise to its customers. Kassebaum adds that the labels’ brighter, more eye-catching design has also rejuvenated consumer interest in the product. This has translated into solid sales for the Tropiclean line of shampoos and conditioners, which includes various fragrances, botanical ingredients and formulations to moisturize, deodorize and pamper pets.

In the recent economy, Kassebaum says that consumers want a high-end product at a middle-market price. “They still want those high-end products, and they’re willing to pay for it, but only to an extent. Still, I don’t see them backing out of taking care of their pets. They are part of the family. “

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