Achieve Clean - Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent with a Disability-Friendly Business Plan
Achieve Clean (AC), LLC is an eco-friendly laundry detergent company that supplies job-training and employment opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities.
AC, Blaine, was launched in 2014 by nonprofit Achieve Services to provide a steady stream of revenue for the organization. Previously, most of Achieve Services’ revenue came from the government, such as medical assistance, but was unreliable and potential cutbacks made developing training programs and job placement difficult. With AC, the consistent source of income provides long-term financial stability as well as an ideal place for Achieve Services’ clients to work.
Business Development Specialist for Achieve Services, Alex Carlson, explains that AC has three main messaging points, the first being 100 percent of revenue from detergent sales supports disabled individuals. “Right now, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is much higher than the standard population. One of our goals is to create jobs, which AC does. Any revenue we make above and beyond paying our employees goes to job training, such as hiring job coaches or going out into the community to find other available job opportunities.”
Each day at AC there are four or five employees working in the production line along with one job coach. About 15 people are employed with the company overall. Job coaches are non-disabled adults hired through Achieve Services to assist workers in their day-to-day tasks and teach workplace skills.
AC’s second messaging point is that its laundry detergent is environmentally safe. “The product itself was developed by a chemist who followed the EPA’s Green Ingredients List to come up with the formula,” states Carlson. “It’s hypo-allergenic and unscented so it doesn’t trigger allergies or leave any harsh chemicals on clothes, and it’s non-hazardous so it’s something that can be handled by our population of people with disabilities.”
Detergent is delivered in 360-gallon drums to AC’s production facility, where employees transfer it to one-gallon bottles, capping and labeling. As purchase orders arrive, their tasks turn to boxing-up, sealing and addressing the orders. “We have two guys who have been doing this from the beginning and they love it,” remarks Carlson. “They’re kind of the faces of AC. One special feature is that each detergent bottle tells the story of one of AC’s employees, and both of these guys’ stories are circulating on the labels.” AC has four stories in circulation and hopes to have about two dozen circulating at a time as the company continues to grow.
The third and final messaging point is the detergent’s price. Carlson explains, “We figured we could never compete with the bargain brands people buy off the shelf at Wal-Mart. Making a high-quality product that’s good for the environment and supports a good cause was something we believed people would be willing to pay a little more money for.” AC’s detergent sells for $15.99 per bottle which is the same retail cost that people pay for Tide or most eco-friendly detergent brands.
In the future, AC plans on relocating to a new production building boasting a retail storefront. Carlson says customers will be able to bring their empty bottles in for discounted refills or use their own containers and go zero-waste. Current retail locations include Coborn’s and Value Village Thrift, and online shoppers can buy direct from AC’s website. As part of Achieve Services’ membership plan, customers can even choose an automatic subscription to have detergent delivered on a regular basis right to their home or office.
Ultimately, AC hopes its business will continue supporting the Twin Cities’ disabled adult community, provide stable jobs and encourage independent living. “As we grow, we see this as an endless opportunity,” says Carlson. "Our tagline is 'Wash with A Cause' and our CEO likes to say it’s the only detergent that makes you smile. I use it myself and am 100 percent sure of its cleaning ability, and believe people can feel good knowing they’re buying a good product for a great cause.”
Michelle Hamburger is a freelance writer and can be reached at [email protected]