[Pages S6644-S6646]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                RECOGNIZING VERMONT'S SEVENTH GENERATION

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I want to call the Senate's attention today 
to yet another outstanding Vermont business: Seventh Generation. 
Seventh Generation unveiled its line of environmentally friendly 
consumer household products more than 25 years ago. Today it has 
expanded to become one of the dominant businesses in this continuously 
emerging market.
  I have visited Seventh Generation many times, and I am consistently 
impressed with how the company continues to find new ways of expanding 
its business and offering Americans affordable and more sustainable 
alternatives to standard household products.

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  Since 2011, Seventh Generation has seen its business grow year after 
year and has unveiled some 100 new products in the last 4 years alone. 
President and CEO John Replogle has reinvigorated the company, further 
defining its purpose and leadership in the competitive marketplace.
  Seventh Generation has long been a company that fosters the business 
principles and ideals that so many Vermonters value: to make products 
locally, to keep it sustainable, to leave no footprint, and make 
products accessible. From its Burlington offices that overlook the 
shores of Lake Champlain to the shelves of the retail giants now 
promoting its products, Seventh Generation is yet another Vermont 
company leading the way in corporate responsibility.
  I ask unanimous consent that the August 27, 2015, article from the 
Burlington Free Press entitled ``Seventh Generation: `Bursting at the 
seams' '' be printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

            [From the Burlington Free Press, Aug. 27, 2015]

              Seventh Generation: `Bursting at the Seams'

                          (By Dan D'Ambrosio)

       Seventh Generation in Burlington has been on a tear since 
     John Replogle took over as president and CEO in 2011. Sales 
     are up more than 60 percent, from about $150 million when 
     Replogle arrived to about $250 million projected for this 
     year. Annual growth is in the ``low double digits,'' says 
     Replogle.
       That's a lot of toilet tissue made from recycled paper and 
     natural, cold-water laundry detergent, not to mention the 
     dozens of other products in Seventh Generation's expanded 
     line of ``green'' disinfectants, dishwashing and hand soaps, 
     surface cleaners, diapers and baby wipes and feminine hygiene 
     products. Seventh Generation has added about 100 new products 
     under Replogle.
       The company today dominates the market for natural cleaning 
     products, according to Replogle, who says the other leaders 
     in the industry are Method and Mrs. Meyers Clean Day.
       ``Adding our sales together we have a half-billion dollar 
     business,'' said Replogle. ``I would love to see the three 
     brands grow to a billion dollars over the next few years.''
       In typical Reploglian fashion, Replogle declines to 
     criticize his two closest competitors in any way, going so 
     far as to refer to them as ``frenemies.'' And he points out 
     that the three brands together have less than a 5 percent 
     share in any category they sell in, leaving a long way to go 
     before they begin to threaten the Procter & Gambles of the 
     world.
       ``What they're trying to do is very much in the spirit of 
     what we're trying to do,'' Replogle said. ``Use fewer 
     ingredients, be less toxic, be more sustainable in 
     manufacturing and packaging. So there's a lot of commonality 
     among our brands.''


                         `A really smart dude'

       Replogle, 49, is the former president of Guinness in the 
     United States and United Kingdom. From there he went to 
     Unilever, where he ran the North American skin care business, 
     with brands including Dove, Ponds, Caress and Lever 2000. 
     Next, in 2006, Replogle took the helm at Burt's Bees, 
     bringing the quirky natural skin care company to the masses.
       ``We launched at Target, CVS and Walgreen's,'' Replogle 
     said. ``We built a national brand. I put great people on the 
     team, and gave them a lot of freedom. We set up core values 
     and principles to run the company and we invested behind it, 
     and it took off.''
       Which is a pretty good description of what Replogle has 
     done at Seventh Generation. Alan Newman, founder of Magic Hat 
     Brewing Co., launched the original Seventh Generation catalog 
     business more than 25 years ago. Newman has been watching 
     Replogle from his latest perch in the Maltex Building on Pine 
     Street, where Newman is running a new craft beer company for 
     The Boston Beer Co., a.k.a. Samuel Adams. Newman likes what 
     he sees on the waterfront, where Seventh Generation is 
     headquartered at Main Street Landing.
       ``John's a really smart dude who knows how to bring focus 
     to an organization, who knows how to re-enthuse the 
     mission,'' Newman said. ``From what I can tell from the 
     outside, he's a really good delegator and manager.''
       In Newman's estimation, Seventh Generation had largely lost 
     sight of its mission four years ago when Replogle took over.
       ``I did not pay a lot of attention to Seventh Generation, 
     but whenever I did they were scattered all over the place,'' 
     Newman said. ``They didn't seem to have any mission left.''
       Sales were also flat, Replogle said.
       ``I just knew this company stood for something greater and 
     that it needed leadership,'' Replogle said. ``The company was 
     at a crossroads. We were very nearly at the end of our rope 
     frankly.''
       Replogle began drawing that rope in by putting a laser 
     focus on what Seventh Generation stands for--natural, 
     sustainable, environmentally sensitive cleaning products, the 
     only segment of the retail category showing significant 
     growth.
       ``We're really in tune with the consumer today,'' Replogle 
     said. ``The millennial consumer in particular, people trying 
     to avoid chemicals, who are more conscious about not only 
     what's in their product but also the practices of the company 
     itself. More and more young consumers are understanding the 
     company behind their product matters. We're winning with 
     those consumers.''


                            A pioneer brand

       As an example of a best manufacturing practice at Seventh 
     Generation, Replogle points to the fact that the company 
     contracts all of its manufacturing to about 22 factories 
     across the nation. ``You will always have the most 
     sustainable footprint on a dispersed model,'' Replogle said. 
     ``If we can manufacture closer to the market, we'll do a lot 
     better. A lot of companies have one large-scale manufacturing 
     site. Then you have to ship everything in and ship the 
     products out.'' Second, Replogle said, Seventh Generation 
     continues to innovate.
       ``We've upgraded every product in our portfolio in the last 
     four years,'' he said. ``Every product has been improved in 
     some material way. We never stop and we're innovating into 
     new spaces. Plus, we've taken our brand from a few categories 
     into several categories. We're not only in dish soap and 
     laundry detergent, we're in hand wash, diapers and wipes and 
     feminine care. We've gone across all the categories.''
       Target has taken notice. Spokeswoman Erica Julkowski said 
     Seventh Generation is one of a ``handful of vendors'' the 
     giant retailer works with closely to ``ideate and develop 
     products.'' ``Seventh Generation is a pioneer brand in 
     natural cleaning and has been a valued partner to Target by 
     providing ongoing innovation and thought leadership,'' 
     Julkowski said in an email. ``Through Seventh Generation's 
     deep understanding of the naturals cleaning industry, they 
     continue to provide expert knowledge on the market and 
     insight into up-and-coming products that might resonate with 
     the Target guest.''
       In Seventh Generation's soothing offices overlooking Lake 
     Champlain--all earth tones and wood paneling with an open 
     center staircase festooned with greenery and the company's 
     principles emblazoned on dangling wooden signs--John 
     Fitzgerald is working on a shelf layout for Target. The 
     products are dish soaps and detergents.
       In the computer generated ``plan-o-gram'' on his big 
     screen, Fitzgerald proposes a display layout of not only 
     Seventh Generation's products, but also of Method's and Mrs. 
     Meyer's offerings, as well as giants like Cascade and Finish. 
     Finally, Fitzgerald proposes shelf positions for Target's 
     own house brands, all based on data collected by a third 
     party.
       ``Our goal is to be objective, to share the facts and give 
     them a recommendation,'' Replogle said. ``Our goal isn't to 
     convince them our way is the right way.''
       Nevertheless, working so closely with Target is a pretty 
     good relationship builder, Replogle adds.


                        Born here, staying here

       Seventh Generation is bursting at the seams at Main Street 
     Landing, with most of its approximately 140 employees working 
     in Burlington. Replogle plans on adding another 15 employees 
     to the staff by the end of the year.
       ``We have maximized our space in here,'' he said. ``Growth 
     is a wonderful thing, but right now we're fully utilized in 
     this building.''
       That doesn't mean, however, that Seventh Generation is 
     going anywhere.
       ``Burlington is our long-term home,'' Replogle said. ``We 
     were born here, we're growing up here and will will remain 
     here. No question. We're committed to that.''
       Seventh Generation has a small office in Toronto, and a 
     satellite office in Raleigh, North Carolina, where Replogle 
     lived as CEO of Burt's Bees, and where his family still 
     lives.
       When he was recruited to run Seventh Generation, Replogle 
     and his wife decided against uprooting their four children, 
     so he has been commuting, returning to his home in Raleigh 
     every other week.
       A native of Boston and a graduate of Dartmouth and Harvard, 
     Replogle feels he has the best of both worlds, maintaining 
     his life in Raleigh and returning to New England for more 
     than a visit. Replogle said it's going to feel even better 
     when his daughter starts at Dartmouth as a freshman this 
     fall.
       ``She'll be right down the road as well,'' he said.
       Replogle expects to open an office in California soon, and 
     earlier this year he launched the business in China with an 
     office in Hangzhou.
       ``There's demand for our products over there,'' Replogle 
     said. ``We're in Japan, Hong Kong, of course mainland China. 
     We're in Korea, Vietnam, Australia. That's been growing over 
     the last five years.''
       Replogle said Seventh Generation will also be in Europe 
     within three years.
       ``How we get there we're still working on right now,'' he 
     said. ``Whether it's a direct model where we create Seventh 
     Generation Europe or whether we partner into that market we 
     haven't determined yet.''


                           The latest venture

       Seventh Generation's office in Raleigh is home to the 
     company's venture arm, with nine employees who look for new 
     business opportunities beyond natural cleaning products.
       ``We created Seventh Generation Ventures about three years 
     ago with the idea of

[[Page S6646]]

     partnering with like-minded companies and helping them 
     accelerate their growth,'' Replogle said.
       The acquisitions began with Bobble, a filtered water bottle 
     company Seventh Generation bought in 2013. The plastic water 
     bottle features a replaceable charcoal filter, and sells for 
     $10, with a new filter that costs about $3. It's marketed as 
     a way to reduce disposable water bottle use.
       Next, Seventh Generation Ventures picked up Presse, a 
     travel coffee mug with built-in French press, which is being 
     marketed under the Bobble name. Call it a K-Cup killer.
       ``This is our answer to Keurig,'' said Replogle, holding a 
     stainless steel Presse in his hand. ``We looked for mission-
     aligned companies like this that are trying to solve a 
     problem like, end the incredible waste of single-serve water 
     bottles or, end the incredible waste of K-Cups.''
       Seventh Generation Ventures was boosted considerably by a 
     $30 million investment last September from former Vice 
     President Al Gore's investment fund, the London-based 
     Generation Investment Management LLP. Seventh Generation 
     returned to private ownership about 15 years ago after a 
     brief flirtation with being a publicly owned company.
       The company's nine board members own about 70 percent of 
     the company, Replogle said, with new shareholders 
     periodically invited in, and existing shareholders offered an 
     exit. The $30 million from Gore's foundation was mostly used 
     to retire existing shareholders who wanted to exit.
       ``There's a long list of investors and companies that would 
     love to put their money into Seventh Generation,'' Replogle 
     said. ``We're pretty fortunate. We have a good thing 
     happening right now.'' Seventh Generation is also debt-free.
       ``John has re-energized the business,'' Alan Newman said. 
     ``He has them on clear objectives. He's done the things that 
     you do to be successful in business.''

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