Keeping up your enthusiasm — Always talking to customers finding out what they liked the most and how can we improve. Customer interactions play a huge role when you are first launching a new product.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Max Appel.
As a wildly successful American entrepreneur, Max Appel has created innovative cleaning products that have taken over the pop culture lexicon for over 4 decades, including household staples: OxiClean, Orange Glo and Kaboom.
A veteran of product development, Max has achieved significant success selling products direct-to-customers as well as through retailers. He loved getting direct feedback from consumers and distributors — it was crucial to learning what people liked in their cleaning products, as well as what they didn’t want. Through this, Max was able to revolutionize the way people discover and buy new cleaning products that set new quality standards in the industry.
Max’s rise to becoming one of the most well-known and nationally lauded cleaning industry disruptor, began in 1984 when he and his wife Elaine wanted a cleaner that didn’t contain harsh chemicals. Proving once again that necessity is the mother of invention, they tinkered around in their garage, concocting new, natural cleaning formulas that became household favorites around the world.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Powerizer Complete is Max’s latest, and his greatest. Not only does it deliver an exceptional clean to every room and every item in your home, it’s made from natural ingredients that are safe for humans and our environment.
Thank you so much for joining us Max!Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?
We initially started developing a laundry detergent and then we decided on a 2in1 detergent since no-one had a Laundry and Dish formula. Differentiating a product from others gives you the advantage over a one-use product. Also giving people a reason to believe that one product can work. In addition, fine tuning and testing is important for our new product to differentiate from others.
What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?
Persistence and pursuing to make a product that is different from all the other detergents on the market. When selling to consumers, it is always important to refine our sales demonstrations and listen to what customers want in a cleaning product.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Learning that you can’t do it all alone. How to train and work with others.
- Continuing to Refine our Sales presentation through experience and discovering what matters for your customer. Which will result in more sales and a bigger market share.
- Supply Chain — It is key to know how to source ingredients at the best price and making sure it arrives on time.
- Keeping up your enthusiasm — Always talking to customers finding out what they liked the most and how can we improve. Customer interactions play a huge role when you are first launching a new product.
- Building A Banking Relationship — Demonstrated product to a banker to help get funding
What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Continue to plan and refine sales presentation. Also keep an eye out for new products. Not being afraid to try something new.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Working with the salesman for the Hoky Carpet Sweeper. I was able refine my sales pitch at Home Shows and State Fairs and they were always beneficial because I treated them as focus groups.
What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?
Becoming a big international company like we did with OxiClean. I like to mentor others and feel I can share my experiences even though they are from decades ago.
What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?
Helping those that can’t help themselves. I am involved in many organizations that are resources to so many. I wish I could do even more.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!
Getting the world to understand people’s needs and aspirations. We move in such a fast paced society that sometimes just by listening you can impact others.
How can our readers follow you on social media?