Coastwide Labs: Product and Strategy Redesign in Commerical Cleaning Products

5 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2008

See all articles by Andrea Larson

Andrea Larson

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Jeff York

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

This is a minicase, one of 10 in a set of short cases written to illustrate the business benefits companies realize through adopting sustainable business strategies. The Coastwide Labs minicase traces the development of a successful sustainability strategy implemented by an industrial and commercial cleaning products company.

Excerpt

UVA-ENT-0096

Coastwide Labs: Product and Strategy

Redesign in Commercial Cleaning Products

Coastwide Laboratories provides an excellent example of a company that applied sustainability principles—in this case benign chemistry formulations for commercial and industrial cleaning products—to differentiate itself and expand sales and profits in a slow-growth market. A small firm located in the Pacific Northwest, Coastwide became a solution provider for customers that were increasingly concerned about regulations and the health and contamination effects of toxicants in commonly used cleaning products. Coastwide's Sustainable Earth™ line of products, initially an experimental project that stood apart from the company's main business, was so successful between 2002 and 2005 that the benign chemistry principles underlying the line were extended to all product lines. With that decision, sustainability was integrated into corporate strategy. By 2006 the company's innovative positioning and growth trajectory had attracted national and international attention. That year the company was purchased by a European firm to expand its strategically aligned portfolio of high-growth, high potential companies.

Modest Beginnings

For decades after its establishment in 1937, Coastwide's product formulations, typical for the industry, were consistent with expectations for old-style “janitorial products.” The company made or bought cleaners, disinfectants, floor finishes and sealers, and degreasers and provided a full line of sanitary maintenance equipment and supplies to schools, municipalities, property managers, commercial cleaning companies, and others. Performing the cleaning function was the primary product requirement. Other health and ecosystem impact considerations did not emerge until years later.

. . .

Keywords: Innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainable business, sustainability, triple bottom line, natural environment, environmental, ecology, ecological, strategy, implementation, financial returns, green, greening

Suggested Citation

Larson, Andrea and York, Jeff, Coastwide Labs: Product and Strategy Redesign in Commerical Cleaning Products. Darden Case No. UVA-ENT-0096. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1278410

Andrea Larson (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/larson.htm

Jeff York

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

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