A review of information from the past six months about the Sun Products Corporation revealed an assortment of themes, topics, and issues that may help identify the consulting/intelligence solutions the company may find valuable. Henkel, the parent company of the Sun Products Corporation, communicates about this recently acquired subsidiary through statements regarding its “North American Laundry & Home Care” division; hinting that “Sun Products” may soon be phased out and fully incorporated into Henkel. Please note that while there are branding elements and news articles that continue to speak about Sun Products Corporation many of these reports are summations of the 2016 acquisition. This report reviews subjects that might be helpful in formulating a sales pitch based on ways the company may need help, support, and research solutions. The company’s history and profile are included to provide a brief framework for the themes, topics, and issues identified in the research.
HISTORY & PROFILE
The Sun Products Corporation was acquired by Henkel in September 2016 for approximately $3.6 billion. Briefly, Sun Products was “created by Vestar Capital in 2008 through the acquisition by Hush Detergents of Unilever’s North American Fabric Care Brands.” When Vestar sold Sun Products to Henkel, it was listed as #5 of PitchBook’s top private equity exits of 2016. Prior to the acquisition, Jeffrey P. Ansell, the CEO from 2011-2016, focused the company’s efforts on reshaping its infrastructure to control for costs. This was accomplished through top talent acquisitions, streamlining the company’s portfolio, and overhauling its corporate strategies. Although Henkel is a German company, it’s most important region is reported to be North America, and the United States generates the most sales of all countries the company serves. Popular brands sold by Sun Products include Surf, Dial, Snuggle, all [sic], Purex, and Sunlight. The company offers three business units: Adhesive Technologies, Laundry & Home Care, and Beauty Care. Post-acquisition activities at Henkel include opening a new location in Stamford, Connecticut. This new location also represents the combining of Henkel’s Laundry & Home Care business and its Beauty Care business (in terms of location only). The new Stamford location is a 155,000-square-foot facility which was designed by Ware Malcolm, “an award-winning international design firm,” and completed in January 2018. A picture is included here, should you find yourself curious about its look and feel, or if Henkel leadership is still abuzz with excitement over its completion. There is also a noted expansion to a 27,000-square-foot facility in Trumbull, Connecticut. Henkel leadership has strategically selected these locations in order that the scientific parts of their research can better marry the marketing side of their business. These locations are highlighted because company leadership (Martina Spinatsch, VP of R&D for the Beauty Care division) feels that “our new location in Stamford allows for optimal access to key suppliers and customers, while giving our research and development team a state-of-the-art workspace to achieve their full potential in creating and testing top quality product formulations and packages.” The new location also allows for their labs and marketing teams to better collaborate across all the company’s Beauty Care brands. The Trumbull location “includes formulation laboratories, a consumer product and fragrance evaluation center, packaging design, and two pilot plants that support production scale-up capabilities for the company’s Beauty Care and Laundry & Home Care divisions.” Also, please note that Dr. Charles Crawford leads R&D for Henkel’s North American Laundry & Home Care division.
A review of the themes present within Sun Products and/or the Henkel Laundry & Home Care business unit was conducted by reviewing company-produced materials like the latest annual report and relevant postings about and by the company. The top brands identified in 2017 for the Laundry & Home Care unit were Persil, all [sic], and Purex. Organic sales were up 2.0% from 2016 and sales overall were up by 14.8%.
Sustainable Financial Performance
Additionally, because even the most independent of subsidiaries must often align with the values of its parent company, the Henkel motivations, as listed in their annual report, might be relevant. For instance, there is a definite pride in the sales of the Laundry & Home Care division (even though Adhesive Technologies outpaced its organic sales growth and achieved a 5% rate; Beauty Care achieved 0.5%). While there is a note within Henkel’s motivations to base their entrepreneurial focus on a “family business tradition,” it is quite clear that the primary and unabashed focus is on creating and maintaining a “sustainable financial performance.” Additional priorities that contributed to these themes are growth, agility, and accelerating digitization.
Globalization of the Company
In a December 2017 interview, Dirk Holbach, Senior VP & CSCO Laundry & Home Care, noted that one of Henkel’s strategic priorities is to “outperform the competition as a globalized company with simplified operations and a highly inspired team.” The Laundry & Home Care division, prior to the acquisition of Sun Products and under Holbach’s leadership, was focused on increasing the speed and standardization of their processes and driving cost-efficiency and end-to-end optimization. While Holbach is located in the Henkel Amsterdam office, these kinds of priorities can often permeate from the top down.
People and digitization are also common themes found in the company materials and the Holbach interview. This leader also noted that “when people are not ready to follow digitization, it will lead to disruption and a lot of sunk investment.”
Published topics covered by Sun Products/Henkel North America are often based on the chemicals and compounds used in their products. For instance, the Fatty Methyl Ester Sulfonate market notes that the Sun Products Corporation was a key player in this market that is set to increase due to “the rising adoption of bio-based products and favorable government policies.” Other chemical-related topics covered by the company include biosurfactants, beverage emulsions, other specific surfactants (e.g., anionic, cationic, and nonionic), and potentiometric titration for pharmaceutical, detergent, and cosmetic arenas. No other “topics” were identified for this company for the past six months.
Beauty Care Division
One of the issues present for Henkel North America is that it has a goal for each of its three divisions to achieve a 2-4% organic growth rate. The Beauty Care unit is the only division not pulling its proper weight. Henkel’s outlook for 2018 includes a commitment for all their business units to contribute to meeting this goal by 2020; considering the close physical proximity of Beauty Care and Laundry & Home Care in the United States, it might be planned for these divisions to work very closely together (so that the success of Laundry/Home might influence the success of its Beauty Care brands).
Other Paid Consulting Services
The Sun Products Corporation is listed as one of the clients of Sterne Kessler. This is primarily a legal firm that manages international patents and trademarks. However, they are mentioned here because, in addition to legal advice and services, they also offer opinions and advice which may translate to secondary research relevant to international markets. The issue here is that there is a law firm that may be offering some secondary research.
Sun Products brand, Snuggle, was recently provided an award-winning package design. The relevancy connected to the award's announcement is that it notes one of Sun Products’ more popular consumers: mothers who are 35-54 years-old. Knowing about this exact marketing group, while it may not be directly related to “intelligence solutions,” it may be a very good thing to know before any discussion with this brand.
Personnel represents one of the main themes mentioned earlier by Holbach; he also mentioned a focus on supply chain. The new facilities in Connecticut (which include the Laundry & Home Care unit), as recently as three days ago, posted a help wanted ad on ZipRecruiter for a Supply Planner. Some functions of this position align well with secondary research, virtual assistance, and intelligence solutions. Below are some of the descriptive elements of the position that may be helpful in formulating a pitch: 1. “Partners with Senior Leadership to drive change and continuous improvement into the Supply Chain planning process.” 2. “Experience participating and leading large cross-functional meetings and working cross-functionally to drive supply awareness and impact.” 3. “Proven ability to model, recommend, and analyze various supply plan scenarios.”
Additionally, Glassdoor publicized a couple of interview questions from Sun Products’ leadership that may be telling in terms of what issues the company wants its employees to solve (i.e., these are the issues consulting may be able to help them with, as well):
1. Brand Manager question — “How would you improve one of our products?” 2. Assistant Brand Manager question — “What innovation did you see in the category that you thought was interesting.”
Sun Products/Henkel North America Laundry & Home Care, although representing the #2 slot in the “North American laundry care market” has many competitors. This could be a potential area rife with issues that intelligence solutions could support. Some of their competitors in the chemicals industry:
2. Alfa Aesar
3. BASF Cognis
4. Chemtura Corp
5. China Factories Group Company
6. Croda International
8. Emery Oleochemicals
9. Evonik Industries AG
11. Henan Surface Chemical Industry Co., Ltd.
12. Jeneil Biotech
13. Jiangsu Hiaqing Biotechnology
14. Jinchang Chemical
16. KLK Oleo
17. KPL International
18. Lion Corporation Chemicals Division
19. MG Intobio
20. Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation
21. Pemex Chemicals
22. Proctor & Gamble Chemicals
25. Stepan Company
26. The Chemithon Corporation
27. Urumqi Unite Bio-Technology
28. Wilmar International, Ltd.
29. Zanyu Technology Group Co., Ltd.
1. "Acuity Specialty Products
2. Akzo Nobel Chemicals
3. Akzo Nobel Spg, Oralabs
4. All One God Faith
5. Betco Corporation
6. Bradford Soap International
7. Church & Dwight Co.
8. Colgate-Palmolive Company
9. Den-Mat Corporation
10. Ecolab Inc.
11. en-Mat Holdings
12. Jacobs Industries Incorporated
13. James Austin Company
14. Kik Custom Products
15. Kutol Products Company
16. Piedmont Chemical Industries
17. Rose Raining
18. Sheffield Pharmaceuticals
19. St. Bernard Soap Company
20. State Industrial Products Corporation
21. The Dial Corporation
22. The Original Bradford Soap Works
23. The Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Company
24. Vvf Illinois Services
25. Warner Chilcott Company
26. Zep Inc."
To wrap up, issues that the Sun Products Corporation/Henkel North America may need help with include its closely related beauty care brand, a large competitor base, and key personnel shortages. The themes and topics covered by the company and its materials include consumer-related marketing, globalization, digitization, supply chain, and sustaining their outstanding financial performance. Additional coverage of the company’s history and profile was provided to help frame the themes, topics, and issues covered in this report.