Private label lines are taking off, as product manufacturing becomes more sophisticated and jan/san distributors increasingly adopt consultative sales practices to promote their house brands. 

It’s a far cry from even a decade ago, when many distributors avoided private label lines either because of the high cost of production, or because of the persistent stigma that private labels were cheap and of low quality. 

Today, those viewpoints have changed. While many private brands are indeed budget-friendly, many distributors are putting their products on par with name brands by launching premium lines and offering the merchandise in convenient “bundles” as a value-added service to customers.  

Decreasing manufacturing costs have allowed distributors to expand their private label offerings, paving the way for bundles. And, of course, the more products a distributor can upsell to their customers, the more revenue they generate. 

In some companies the product bundling method is becoming so popular that it is actually being spec’d on bids, says Laura Craven, director of communications at Dade Paper in Miami. The company released their private label line about 10 years ago. 

“In the early years, when the brand wasn’t well known, it didn’t really have a reputation,” she says. “We like to sell it in a program. Now, people have used and enjoyed the performance and the value, and that’s no longer the case.” 

Shedding The Stigma Of Private Lable Lines 

Private label lines have long had a contentious existence among jan/san suppliers. The stigma that distributor-branded products weren’t as effective or were made of low quality ingredients swayed customers toward more reputable and recognizable national brands. 

To avoid the stigma of private branded products, some distributors chose names that differed from their company moniker. 

That’s what Central Sanitary Supply in Modesto, Calif. did more than 25 years ago when they first launched their private label line, says Chris Martini, director of marketing and special products. 

“If you look at our private label we don’t have our name on it,” Martini says. “The decision behind that is, sometimes there is a perception that private label isn’t as good as a branded product. [The name] was just so that it gave the appearance of a more nationally branded product and it wouldn’t come with the stigma of a private label.” 

When the recession hit in 2009, however, many customers began looking to private label lines to offset budgetary constraints. By this time, lowered manufacturing costs and greater access to digital marketing tools were already helping distributors make their mark. Customers were able to see that privately branded products cleaned just as well as, and cost less than, their name brand counterparts. 

“Private label is growing, there’s no question about it,” says Ben Uselman, CEO at Bruco, in Billings, Mont. The company sells about 15 privately branded products. 

The line, which is sold in bundles more often than not, makes up about one-third of company sales, Uselman says. 



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Selling Private Label Cleaning Products