ETC of Henderson, a Henderson, N.C.-based manufacturer of floor pads and mops, watched as the majority of its manufacturing plant was destroyed by fire December 15, around noon. The next day, investigators announced that a welding torch accidentally sparked and ignited some combustible material in the plant. Employees attempted to put out the fire with portable fire extinguishers, but the fire grew quickly as strong winds carried it through ETC’s buildings.

“We had very strong winds that day that blew flames across the buildings,” says Michael Jacobs, editor with Henderson’s newspaper, The Daily Dispatch, “so they really couldn’t do anything about it.”

Every ETC employee emerged from the fire unscathed. ETC executives credited the company’s emergency evacuation plan that used two-way radios to notify every employee about the fire within minutes.

“ETC has used business band radios for internal communication almost since its inception,” says Penny Demetriades, executive vice president for the company. “Sometimes they really annoy us — when we’ve responded to what seems like the 500th call, we’d like to just turn them off, but we don’t. On Monday, those radios saved a lot of lives.”

Because of those portable two-way radios, ETC employees were able to evacuate the building quickly and safely. ETC president, Pete Demetriades, directed around 50 production employees to safety and helped 100 firefighters contain the fire.
“Our greatest, most important product — our company family — is whole and working,” says Tim Surratt, vice president of marketing for ETC.

ETC of Henderson is still operating its office buildings, which didn’t need to be evacuated during the fire, and plans to continue serving its jan/san distributors. “The fire door held on our cutting building, which is also our newest building, so we’re still able to produce quite a few floor pads, and we’ve got a lot of inventory left in our undamaged warehouses,” says Penny Demetriades. “Everyone is working hard — focused and dedicated.”

ETC managers and supervisors are salvaging inventory, directing a swarm of plumbers and electricians, as they attempt to get their operations back to 100 percent.

“We think we have a grip on it,” adds Demetriades, “and we’re still talking on those radios.”


Maryland Schools Just Say No...To Soap
The Associated Press recently reported that several Maryland schools have removed soap dispensers from student bathrooms in order to curb vandalism. Public schools aren’t required to provide soap, according to the Maryland State Department.

Wal-Mart Case Goes to Grand Jury
A grand jury in Pennsylvania convened in late December to consider Wal-Mart’s role in hiring illegal aliens as contract cleaners. The retail giant did not comment, but U.S. Assistant Attorney Wayne Samuelson said the grand jury met to discuss the case.

New Paper Mill for Unicell
A new pulp and paper mill will create 67 new jobs for residents of Brownstown, Ind., by 2006, says Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis. Unicell Paper Mills, Sanford, Fla., will invest $34.2 million in a new tissue paper mill.

NCL Announces New President/CEO
National Chemical Laboratories Inc., Philadelphia, recently announced the appointment of Harry Pollack as president and CEO by the NCL Board of Directors. Pollack has served NCL for more than 20 years in a variety of sales, marketing and production capacities, most recently as vice president of the company.

New Distributor Report from NAW & Pembroke Consulting
The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) and Pembroke Consulting recently announced that Facing the Forces of Change® The Road to Opportunity will be available in March 2004. The new publication continues a series of distributor education reports.


CAN SPAM Act Becomes Law
President Bush signed the Hatch-Leahy anti-spam bill into law in mid-December. The new law, which is part of the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (or the CAN SPAM Act), institutes the first criminal penalties for congesting inboxes.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah) co-authored the Criminal Spam Act, which was also sponsored by other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee: Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

“This is an important step in the fight against junk commercial e-mail by targeting one of the sources of the problem — those spammers who hijack computer systems or use other fraudulent means to carry out their misdeeds,” said Leahy.

“Where the Internet is concerned, the government should step in only when absolutely necessary,” he added. “Unfortunately, spammers have made this such a time.”


JohnsonDiversey Co., Sturtevant, Wis., a major manufacturer of a variety of cleaning products, recently announced that its Japanese subsidiary, TeepolDiversey Co., has acquired Daisan Kogyo Co., a leading food and beverage manufacturer in Japan that was formerly owned by Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co.

SCA, Stockholm, an international paper manufacturer for the sanitary supply industry, recently announced the acquisition of 41 percent of the share capital (50 percent of the voting rights) in Scaninge Timer, Stockholm, owner of 390,000 hectares of productive forestland. SCA acquires the share capital from Graninge AB, and secures full and long-term strategic control of the timber flow with the purchase.

Henkel Acquires Dial, Could Drop Clorox

Henkel, a Dusseldorf, Germany-based manufacturer of detergents, cosmetics and adhesives, recently announced the acquisition of Dial Corp., Scottsdale, Ariz., for $2.9 billion. Dial is one of the largest players in the U.S. cleaning industry — the company reported that nearly all of its $1.3 billion in dispenser, liquid soap and amenity sales last year came from the United States — while Henkel has a strong presence in the European markets.

Although early reports suggest that Dial operations will remain in Scottsdale for at least two years, Arizona residents are already bracing for the worst. “I wish Dial had found the way to be the kind of giant that buys and survives, rather than a company that is bought and forgotten,” wrote business analyst Jon Talton in the December 16th-edition of The Arizona Republic. “With Henkel’s $2.9 billion acquisition of Dial Corp., Arizona loses what was once the crown jewel of its corporate headquarters.”

Henkel’s acquisition of Dial portends a far-reaching impact throughout the sanitary supply industry, due to its current financial partnerships with other manufacturers. In a statement by Henkel, the company announced that it plans to sell “a significant portion” of its minority investment in Clorox Co. (currently close to 25 percent), Ecolab Professional Products, or both in order to fully finance the purchase of Dial.

The acquisition is still subject to regulatory and shareholder approval, but looks likely to be approved. Dial shareholders would receive $28.75 per share, a premium of 11.1 percent over Dial’s closing price when the deal was announced in mid-December, and approximately triple the value it had when Herb Baum became chairman-CEO in August 2000.