Knowing where to start private labeling and what to brand next can be daunting. Some distributors choose to brand multiple product categories simultaneously while others prefer to test the waters with one product at a time. 

“I don’t think there’s a defined order,” says Schneringer. “It all depends on the nature of your business, your customer and expectations.” 

WAXIE has myriad private label products including chemicals, paper products, soap, can liners, sponges, microfiber, gloves and floor machines. Every additional product category is an opportunity for distributors to brand their companies as providers of complete solutions, says Schneringer. 

After chemicals, most distributors start private labeling paper products. For Brahms, the decision to do so was easy.

“As more people started selling jumbo paper products, competition heated up,” he says. “That’s when private labeling paper became important.”  

Not only is paper a high-volume commodity, but it’s also very visible — another reason Brahms and other distributors started branding paper products. 

“Chemicals usually go into a supply room where you’ll never see them,” says Brahms. “On the other hand a lot of people see dispensers, and they see your company name on them.”

Imperial Dade, with headquarters in Jersey City, New Jersey, and Miami, began private labeling chemicals in 2003, followed by towel and tissue products. In the hospitality market, tissue products in guest rooms have packaging visible to guests. So Imperial Dade designed its paper private label line based on feedback from customers. 

“They wanted softer colors and something that would present well in the hotel guest room space, so we designed the packaging with that in mind,” says Laura Craven, director of communications. 

Trash can liners are another high-volume commodity distributors turn to when expanding their private label offerings. Liners were one of Nichols’ three biggest commodities to receive a private label after chemicals — the others being paper and soap, respectively. 

Nichols began branding trash can liners because it was a simple category to tackle — and another step toward the company’s goal of building a private brand synonymous with quality.

“The manufacturers were easy to work with, and it was straightforward to get a logoed label put on a box,” says Huizenga. “Also, because our name is on the box, I can shop it to multiple manufacturers to get the best price that I can. So we’re able to control our expenses but still provide a high-quality product.”

Like Huizenga, Brahms chose to private label paper, soap, and trash liners — complementary products that are easily bundled to encourage repeat orders.

“Paper, soap and trash liners are all washroom supplies,” says Brahms. “I wanted to make sure that all the products in that system had my name on it, and customers were consistently getting those products from me.”

Private labeling additional products like soap and paper became more popular as technologies advanced, says Dan Josephs, COO of Spruce Industries, Rahway, New Jersey.

“As these quick laser printers and die casts came about, it was a lot easier to do private label programs,” he says. “Soap dispensers now have locking mechanisms on them to prevent other distributors’ private label products from being put in your private label dispenser. And the same is true for paper.”

Like paper and soap, gloves are repeat-purchase products that complement existing private label programs; therefore, many distributors add them to their portfolio early on.

“It doesn’t make sense to private label safety supplies, because it would tie you up with too much inventory,” says Brahms. “But the one area that does make sense to private label is gloves. That’s a big, repeat-consumable item that goes quickly.”


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