Humble Beginnings

By Caileen  |  Monday, November 25, 2013  |  , , , , ,  |  Leave comment

Dr. Robert Smith

Dr. Robert Smith, Tecnu inventor

Dear Friends,

Recently I was gathering photos for Facebook posts and decided to jump on the "Throwback Thursday" band-wagon trending in social media as of late. At first I thought I would upload pictures of what our popular products looked like when they first came to market, and ended up stumbling upon old photos of our company's co-founder and creator of Tecnu Original (and many other products), Dr. Robert Smith.

For a time, I felt sad that I never had the opportunity to meet the amazing man that started it all. But, as my time at Tec passes, I've come to realize that his legacy lives on and continues to drive the heart of Tec Labs. It was Dr. Smith who inspired our culture that fosters hard-working, cheerful, innovative employees who continually seek more. To give more. To do more. To be more. Unanimously, when asked about Dr. Smith, those that had the fortune of knowing him always begin with a smile, followed by a fond memory or story, and always finish with, "I wish you could have met him." It's these stories that make me feel as if I did know Dr. Smith, or "Doc" (as he is referred to by most), and working for Tec is knowing a small piece of Dr. Smith's genius, generosity, and compassion for others.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Dr. Smith and the Tec Labs story, it all began with a product originally meant to remove nuclear fall-out from the skin; although never officially tested for its fall-out removal properties (thankfully!). Tecnu (meaning "Technically New") Original, was initially sold in 5 gallon buckets to folks with bomb shelters, should they ever need it during the Cold War. One day, Dr. Smith's wife Evelyn discovered that Tecnu had a very different purpose; it also removed urushiol (rash-causing oil from poison oak and ivy). After their children had suffered several bouts of poison oak rash from plants in their backyard, she'd had enough, and decided to take matters into her own hands, literally. Evelyn took to the back yard and pulled every last poison oak plant out with her bare hands. That was it, her children would not suffer anymore, even if it meant she would likely develop a terrible rash as payment for her good deed. Immediately upon completion of her task, she went inside and had the idea to wash up with Tecnu. Surprisingly, the next day and the days following, there were no signs of a rash; even though she had experienced severe reactions before.

Word spread around the neighborhood about Tecnu's use for removing urushiol oil from poison oak and ivy plants and demand for Tecnu Original soared. Years later, Doc's son Steve (current CEO) researched and discovered that poison oak rash was the number one worker's comp claim during the summer months for local utility companies. Soon after, Tec Labs was founded (initially, Tecnu Enterprises) and began selling Tecnu Original as a solution to decrease worker's comp claims. Now, Tecnu has become the trusted name in poison oak and ivy, used by outdoor workers and enthusiasts throughout the U.S.

As an employee of Tec Labs, each of us makes an unspoken promise to carry on Doc's dream: to continue to create and innovate, to whole-heartedly love what we do, and most importantly, to serve our consumers with quality products so that they may continue to adventure, and live life outdoors!

Here's to you Doc!

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