How we got from there to
In 1976, Charlie Sutherland,
Jr. and his brother-in-law Ron Joyce were working for the yarn oil
division (run by Charlie's dad) of a large textile yarn company.
The yarn company asked
Charlie to find a soap to clean up the oils his division was making
along with other accumulated grime the yarn machines picked up.
Rather than buy a soap, Ron
and Charlie started making it themselves on the sly in an old barn on
Ron's dad's farm. Charlie came up with the final formula after a short
while; the stuff worked great, and they were in business.
With $200, Charlie and Ron
officially started their little soap company. Charlie had to borrow
$100 from Ron to cover his half of the enterprise. Eventually the yarn
company figured out where the soap was coming from and raised Hell.
After they convinced Ron
that they would continue buying the soap, he went with the new soap
company. The yarn company kept Charlie. Charlie's dad used to say of
the original cleaner, "It cleans everything from false teeth to diesel
engines." We put that on the labels.
The soap company struggled
on with Charlie still helping make soap on weekends, and Ron delivering
during the week. The oil division at the textile yarn company was
bought out in 1981 by a German chemical company and Charlie went with
Time to start a new company
In 1983, over strong
objections from his wife Jane, Charlie left his good job and bought
Ron's shares of the struggling little soap company.
Ron left for greener
pastures, and Charlie, now over $60,000 in debt, moved all the
equipment to the old yarn oil division where his father, Charlie
senior, and Ron's secretary, Jenny Craver, still kept an office. Jenny
stayed with the little soap company.
The very day Charlie took
over the soap company, the old yarn company started modernizing and
shipping thousands of their old machines to China.
The Chinese folks insisted
that these old grimy machines had to be sparkling clean before
shipping. Soap sales soared, and Charlie hired Wayne Belton to mix soap
and drive the truck he got from the German company.
Charlie paid off his debts
and was sitting pretty especially after he invented a new scour
(Laundry Liquid) for the Quality Control Labs, and it was now selling
to the outdoor-wear folks. All was good - for a while.
In 1992, after all of the
old textile machines had been shipped to China, the yarn company was
sold and 75% of Charlie's soap business was gone overnight.
Times were tough, and
Charlie and Jane had two kids in college and two more in private
school. Thank Goodness Charlie had the new sales in the Laundry Liquid
for outdoor wear. That kept the doors open. Sadly, Charlie's dad passed
on in 1994. He is missed.
Today -- Sold around the
Over the years, through
word-of-mouth and lots of scratching, the original Charlie's Soap, the
new Laundry Liquid, and the newer Laundry Powder have found their way
around the globe and they continue to amaze those who try them. The
boys, Taylor, James, and Morgan started working at the plant in 2002
and they are really making the company grow.