UNC Kenan-Flagler Sustainability Blog

Method’s Lowry Cleans Up with MBA Orientation Keynote

August 9, 2011 By Joel Thomas

By Jill Newbold, CSE Marketing and Events Manager

On August 3rd, Adam Lowry, the co-founder of the innovative cleaning-product company Method spoke to our first year MBAs as the orientation keynote.  His presentation was inspirational as it drove home the fact that it’s OK to be different, edgy and push the envelope to grow a brand and business that you believe can be an engine for global social and environmental change. Method is celebrating a decade of running their company by unconventional “humanifesto” principals like “we use ingredients that come from plants, not chemical plants” and “we think perfect is boring and weirdliness is next to godliness.”

Adam discussed the challenges of building the business ($16.00 in the bank, $300K in accounts payable and a last second investment saves the day) and how the company looks at their successes through a lens of social and environmental change.  With sales are over $100M, Method has demonstrated that it takes guts to be the little guy and do things differently, but it can also be a very effective strategy. Some of Methods’ innovations include:

  • Packaging – designing products with new shapes and product delivery options that drastically reduce packaging and shipping costs and are visually appealing.
  • Product – did you know that they spurred the concentrated laundry product movement? As Adam sees it, forcing the industry to reduce package size is good for everyone so who cares who came up with the idea?
  • Marketing – creating “earned media,” worthwhile stuff, not press releases, through innovative use of video. For a hilarious and effective example of in house cleverness see www.votedaisy.com.

Post talk interaction

Adam fields questions from a swarm of first years

Adam’s talk covered 3 primary areas:  Innovation, storytelling and building a culture.  I could go on and on but he’s got a book coming out in September that you can check out:  The Method Method:  7 Obsessions that Helped our Scrappy Start-Up Turn an Industry Upside Down. Method has a webinar planned for September 7th (noon EST) if you pre order  the book and email your receipt to methodbook@methodhome.com by August 24th.  I personally can’t wait.

Looking forward to more great speakers and experiences like this as part of the UNC Kenan-Flagler sustainability team.