Private label wipes; wipe contract manufacturing
Industry: Industrial & Equipment
"After coming to the U.S., I dined at a Chinese restaurant and was handed a hot linen towel to clean my hands," says Yen. "I did my research and realized there was a market for disposable hot towels."
Yen says that in 1994 she rented a 1,700-square-foot warehouse and with only one machine began manufacturing wet wipes called Oshibori for the restaurant industry. "After getting set up, we made 86 cases in the first month and with two employees," says Yen.
When Yen went door to door visiting restaurants, she was encouraged to attend the National Restaurant Association shows. "At my first show I received many overwhelmingly great responses and I turned them into orders," she said. "I knew then there was a huge potential!"
Now led by President Jessica Lum, Diamond Wipes employs more than 400 people and occupies 250,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse spaces in California and Ohio.
Knowing the importance of diversification, Yen sought out other markets and applications for wipes beyond restaurants and successfully expanded Diamond Wipes' reach into the hotel, beauty, janitorial, and other industries. "One time, I traveled to Peru and hiked to Machu Picchu and was bitten by many mosquitoes," says Yen. "That led me to spearhead the development of our mosquito-repellant wipes that use natural ingredients that we believe are more effective than those that are chemical-based."
Yen says that the company's R&D lab has created many patent-pending innovations that set Diamond Wipes apart from its competitors. "Our Innovation Committee is continually developing new products to stay ahead of the market," she says. "We also source different fibers and substrates from all areas of the globe. We also develop biodegradable and natural ingredient alternatives to reduce the use of toxic chemicals that can be harmful to people and the environment. One example is Ode to Clean, our 100 percent plant-based cleaning wipes that use Bioperoxide and biodegradable materials. Compared to petroleum-based products, six tons of CO2 are removed from the environment for every ton of Ode to Clean product produced."
Challenges: "We are always challenged on how to grow the business while maintaining our workforce," says Yen. "We've transitioned to more automated processes and use cloud-based platforms which saves time for our employees and reduces the margin for error."
Opportunities: "We keep finding ways to grow our product line," says Yen. "As an example, we released our brand Hero Wipes to remove soot, lead, bloodborne pathogens, and other carcinogens that first responders are exposed to."
She adds, "A wipe is essentially an applicator or remover. It's how do you use it and what can be used for, that we keep finding ways to grow our product line. We ultimately want to help and provide a better environment and a healthier family household. There are so many needs out there, we haven't even touched the surface."
Needs: "Finding qualified people," says Yen. "My biggest need is for mechanics. . . . Whether we need a mechanic or an accountant, we look for a candidate that has an innovative mindset, is skilled at problem solving, and is a good fit with the Diamond Wipes team. We want our employees to have balanced lives, therefore, cross-training is very important within our organization. It allows our employees to take vacations and personal time without allowing our customer service and quality to suffer. We have a good workforce here and I'm fortunate to have employees that have been with me for 25 years."