Health

Local business reaps rewards of H1N1 flu

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

For some kinds of businesses, the H1N1 flu virus has brought with it a financial blessing, of sorts. Sales of hand wipes and gels have increased by 71 percent since last spring. One of those companies benefitting from the boon is in Marin County, and their numbers are even better.

There is no shortage of hands to wipe or wipes for hands at EO Products in Corte Madera. Not a lot of sick calls, either. In no small part because they will never run out of hand wipes or sanitizers there. The company makes them; roughly one million units this year alone.

Brad Black and Susan Griffin-Black are the co-CEOs of EO.

"Our idea wasn't ever to score big," said Grififn-Black.

"Are we making a little bit more money now? Yes. Do we need to be profitable to stay in the business? Yes," said Black.

The company offers 110 products -- all natural, all organic, featuring essential oils, hence the name, EO.

"I think luck has a lot to do with it," said Black.

But luck won't do a company any good at all if it isn't ready to capitalize. The company was already making three hand sanitizers. When the H1N1 flu hit, they were ready. Sales of their products increased by 500 percent.

"It's better to be good, and then if you get lucky, you get lucky," said Griffin-Black.

In 2009, luck took the form of fear and muted pandemic pandemonium. Nobody at the company expects the flu season to last forever, but it does present opportunities for a small company building a brand name and making organic hand wipes that smell like peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender.

"Gels, sprays, and wipes... it's for different parts of your life," explained Black. "You want one for your purse, you want one for the kids," said Black.

Their only worry now is that the suppliers for their wipes keep pace with our flu.

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Tags:
h1n1, corte madera, health, wayne freedman
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