PARSIPPANY — Earth Friendly Products, the maker of ECOS™ environmentally friendly cleaning products, is celebrating 50 years of green cleaning innovation, a significant achievement in the cleaning products industry. Earth Friendly Products is located at 50 Lackawanna Avenue.
2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the family-owned and –operated company, and it will celebrate this important milestone with gala celebrations at its four sustainable manufacturing facilities across the U.S.
The celebrations will occur throughout the month of April in conjunction with global Earth Day celebrations, in honor of the company’s long-standing commitment to environmental protection. Earth Friendly Products has achieved many firsts in developing safer cleaning products. The company has received many awards for its advances in safer green chemistry, including the U.S. EPA’s coveted Safer Choice Partner of the Year.
In 2016, Earth Friendly Products was the first cleaning products company to use the safer ethylhexylglycerin as a preservative in its formulations, partnering with the U.S. EPA to establish it as a Safer Choice–recognized chemical.
“I’m proud to continue our company’s legacy as an eco-pioneer while making Earth Friendly Products a model for green business practices,” says Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, president and CEO of Earth Friendly Products. “It’s important to me that we continue to lead as an American manufacturer, creating green jobs and supporting local economies. Since the beginning, our mission has been to make plant-powered cleaners that are safer for people, pets and the planet, and to do that for 50 years while supporting our employees and our communities is very rewarding.” Earth Friendly Products is also a nationally recognized leader in corporate social responsibility, paying one of the highest minimum wages in the nation and supporting its employees with numerous family-friendly benefits such as paid healthcare, sick time, and maternity and paternity leave. The company also offers its employees financial incentives to adopt green lifestyle choices, such as purchasing a low-emissions vehicle, installing solar panels, and relocating close to its facilities to reduce carbon emissions and long commutes.
The company was started in 1967 by Eftychios Vlahakis known as Van Vlahakis.
The Greek-born Mr. Vlahakis founded Venus Laboratories in the garage of his Chicago home in 1967. A decade later, he changed the name to Earth Friendly Products and opened a headquarters and factory in Garden Grove, California. He died on April 6, 2014 at his home in Key Largo, Florida. He was 79.
With 300 employees and four manufacturing plants in the United States, the company topped $100 million in sales last year with biodegradable, chemical-free products sold online and in supermarkets and big-box stores such as Wal-Mart and Costco.
Born in Crete on January 14, 1935, Mr. Vlahakis immigrated to the United States at 18; he had $22 in his pocket. He lived in homeless shelters and supported himself with odd jobs at bars and restaurants while attending Roosevelt University in Chicago. After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1958, he found work in the cleaning products industry.
“Earth Friendly Products is a model for manufacturers across the U.S. that shows you can do the right thing for customers, employees, and the planet and be successful,” says David Levine, co-founder and CEO of American Sustainable Business Council. “Their 50 years of continued growth is a testament to the fact that companies can do good and do well.” Founded in 1967, Earth Friendly Products was launched at the dawn of the environmental movement in the same year that saw the passage of the Air Quality Act and the founding of the Environmental Defense Fund. The company was an early supporter of Earth Day, which traces its roots back to 1970.
Parsippany is home to one of four manufacturing plants nationwide which was welcomed with a Ribbon Cutting hosted by the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce on Earth Day 2015. The Parsippany facility is carbon neutral, water natural, and Zero Waste Platinum certified, saving more than 53 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually and diverting more than 95 percent of all waste from landfills.
In addition to the celebration in Parsippany on April 13, other anniversary events will be held at Earth Friendly Products’ facilities in Lacey, Washington, on April 18; Addison, Illinois, on April 21; and the company’s headquarters in Cypress, California, on April 28.
Guests enjoyed an exciting program featuring a locally sourced organic lunch, VIP guest speakers, and the world premiere of videos honoring the company’s legacy in the green movement and its unprecedented achievements in sustainable manufacturing. Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce and Vice-President Parsippany-Troy Hills Council Robert Peluso was the emcee of the event.
VIP speakers included Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Senator Joe Pennacchio, Gary Williams, Projects Specialist and Outreach Coordinator and George Helmy, both from Senator Cory A. Booker’s office, Representatives from Rodney Frelinghuysen’s office, Mayor James Barberio and local representatives and employees of the Parsippany facility.
Menendez and a representative for Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) both presented CEO Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks with American flags that had flown outside the Capitol building in Washington to commemorate the occasion.
During its Parsippany anniversary celebration, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks presented a donation to its key non-profit partners at each facility, including American Sustainable Business Council in New Jersey. At celebrations in other locations, a donation will also be presented to Seattle Children’s Hospital in Washington, the Discovery Cube Museums in California, and the Roosevelt University in Illinois.
“We’re honored to have so many federal and state dignitaries, non-profit partners, and community members join us to celebrate this important milestone in our company’s history,” says Vlahakis-Hanks.
After the celebration and awards CEO Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks provided a tour of the facility so people could see first-hand how the eco-friendly cleaning products are produced. Her fahter’s life story was the basis for “A Green Story,” a 2013 feature film with a cast that included Malcolm McDowell as a villain who tries to force Mr. Vlahakis to sell his company. A short video was shown to the guests at the end of the tour hosted by Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks.
ECOS™ cleaners are produced in the U.S. in carbon neutral, water neutral, and Platinum Zero Waste-certified facilities. ECOS™ laundry detergents are among the over 100 Safer Choice-certified products made by Earth Friendly Products. The U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice program is designed to help consumer find products that are safer for human health and the environment and have superior performance. Earth Friendly Products has more Safer Choice-certified products than any other manufacturer.
For more information about Earth Friendly Products and ECOS™ products, click here.
Copyright 2017 Parsippany Focus