April 04, 2006


Article from The Boston Globe
Tom’s of Maine’s letter to their “friends”

The email I sent today to Tom's of Maine in response to their sell-out to Colgate-Palmolive:

Well, another one bites the dust. Another natural product company, another non-megacorp, another company who put out a quality product with safe ingredients has sold out. Why is running a $50 million business which makes a quality product for over 30 years not satisfying enough? Why would you now trust a company at whom you used to take pot shots? Can we count on anyone to resist the sell out?

From your letter on your site: "More and more people are looking for safe and effective natural products from plants and minerals from a company that shares their values."

You know, if Colgate had the same values as Tom's, they would be a natural products company. Do you think Colgate really shares your values? Do you really think that the sort of consumer who has remained loyal to you thinks that Colgate shares these values? I, for one, do not. I certainly hope that Colgate honors any sort of promises they have made. But I have serious doubts that Colgate will honor anything but the stockholders and the bottom line. Colgate will do what is right for Colgate. Frankly, I'm really tired of this. You can't buy anything these days without a huge mega-corp name behind it. I guess they all sell out in the end. I certainly don't have to tell you of the other independent producers who made a difference with a quality, natural product but who then sold out. And I don't need to tell you about the natural and organic brand names out there that are actually owned by the hugest of the huge companies in the first place. Spin it and they will come. As long as you market it right, it will sell, regardless of who is selling it. That is painfully clear with the likes of the big box chain stores. It's also evident in America's general battle cry of bigger, faster, more, more, more.

As for your so called distribution potential improving, I'vee never had any trouble finding your products all over the country. Besides, people who want quality products will find quality products. We're already looking. Crap, on the other hand, is easy to find. I'm disappointed that a company run by so many bright folks couldn't come up with a better partnership or a better way to expand your distribution. How about opening another manufacturing location? How about expanding the existing one? Come on, get creative.

But this leads me to my first question: Why isn't Tom's of Maine's success enough for you folks? I'm sure you have all of your material needs met. So what's eating you so badly that you needed to sell out? Just can't shake the itch to have Tom's of Maine in the farthest corners of the globe? You really want to retire knowing that Colgate-Palmolive is in charge?


Like I said, it's hard these days to find an organic or natural product that isn't run by the big corporations. It's the watering down of quality and the bulking up of bottom lines because natural and organic are becoming chic. But there are folks like me who search for the answers when it comes to where should I buy the product, what are the ingredients, how is it packaged, who owns this brand? And folks like me change our spending habits accordingly. I won't be purchasing any more of your products, of which toothpaste and deodorant were household staples. In fact, I just bought 3, count 'em, 3 tubes of Tom's toothpaste this weekend. I'll be donating them to a local charity. Everyone needs to brush but I am fortunate enough to be able to put my money where my mouth is (a pun is lurking somewhere) with some things, toothpaste being one of them. On my next trip to my local co-op, I'll check out the companies that sell the same things as Tom's and see what I can buy instead - at least for now.

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