An illustration of various cleaning products and items

When jan/san distributors launch a private label program, many choose chemicals as a logical starting point. With high-volume sales and hundreds of SKUs, these top sellers traverse multiple product categories and meet the minimum order quantity requirements often set by manufacturers. 

“Most distributors start with chemicals because it’s the first thing that comes to mind, and there’s volume related to it,” says Keith Schneringer, director of channel marketing and sustainability for WAXIE Sanitary Supply, San Diego. “Also, there’s a wide range of differences in terms of chemical formulas, colors and fragrances. So there’s a lot you can do to differentiate the product.”

Andy Brahms, CEO of Armchem International Corp., Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been private labeling chemicals since he first opened his doors. His advice for newcomers is to start with the biggest sellers and with what you know. Today, Brahms’ private brand has expanded to include paper, soap, trash liners, gloves and aerosol deodorizers. 

Like Brahms, many distributors expand their private label into additional product categories to differentiate their offerings as their business develops. 

“As we continue to grow into other states, we’ll run into situations where we’re competing with distributors that are already in that geography,” says Glen Huizenga, sales leader for Nichols, Muskegon, Michigan. “So to avoid channel conflict and control our destiny, we’ve opted to build our brand — and we’ve done that with trash can liners, paper products, soap, floor pads, air fresheners and urinal screens.”

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Brand Strategy Involves Knowing When To Expand