A feature article in the Minnesota Small Business Development Center’s 2005 Annual Report identified CPI as “….a very diverse and somewhat complicated company.…. but with a simple goal: to build a business that will prosper when others merely survive.” A closer analysis reveals that CPI may appear complex from the outside, but in reality, is a coordination of the Company’s product lines and expanding customer base to realize the single and simple goal of long term success.
CPI: A CHRONOLOGY
Clean Plus, Inc. was founded in 1982 as a family-held Minnesota “C” Corporation to market a single brand of hand cleaner. The Company initially marketed Clean Plus Hand Soap. This proprietary formula was, for the first several years, manufactured by a toll manufacturer in Kirkland, WA. In 1987, CPI purchased the toll manufacturer (including its own brands, formulas, etc.) and moved the manufacturing operation to West Concord, MN. The Company has grown to become a manufacturing and distribution firm serving National and International markets. The Chemical Division, as it has come to be called, has continually and consistently expanded its product offerings and markets over the past 30 years.
In 1991, seeking wider exposure to the automotive after-market, CPI founded the Parts Division. CPI developed a line of starter and alternator repair kits under the Victory Lap Brand. The kits are designed for and marketed to DIY (do-it-yourself) customers through Auto Parts Distributors, retail and mass-merchandiser channels.
In 2000, at the request of a leader in the Auto Glass industry, CPI’s then-Product Development Manager researched and developed cleaning products to remove modern urethane-based adhesive used in auto glass installations. The launch of these products was a near instant success among Auto Glass Installers. These customers, pleased with CPI’s products and service, requested the Company supply other products, including supplies, consumables and sundry products, such as better quality disposable gloves. CPI responded by researching and importing superior-quality gloves at a competitive price. Ultimately, a complete line of products for the Auto Glass Installer industry was developed, including several products exclusively marketed by CPI’s Glass Division.
An outgrowth of importing a high quality FDA-certified Medical-Grade gloves has led to the additional development of three distinct market segments (Dental, Daycare & EMS/Corrections), each managed by a dedicated Account Representative / Market Manager. In response to customers’ requests, additional fast moving, market appropriate, consumable items, are also carried for these market segments.
In 2003, CPI pursued and acquired a license from the University of Minnesota to manufacture and market an oil absorbent pad made from corn stalks. Ultimately, an exclusive license to the patent technology was awarded. Equipment was purchased and production began under the brand Drip Trap. Shortly after launch of the Drip Trap pad, customers asked for a granular type oil absorbent with many of the same performance, disposal and ‘green’ characteristics of the Drip Trap absorbent pad. Feasibility studies were conducted in partnership with The University of Minnesota – Duluth. This Research & Development has led to the commissioning of a pilot plant to manufacture Drip Trap absorbent granules to displace clay-based “oil dry”. The pilot plant is currently operational and has implemented a continuous improvement process to maximize capacity and efficiency.