RAD Soap Co. and Pine Ridge Industries: A Partnership With the Sweet Scent of Success!
RAD Soap Co. from Albany wanted to keep packaging and shipping local, while also broadening its reach to nationwide customers.
Pine Ridge Industries (PRI) of Scotia, wanted to help small businesses maximize their output and reduce their costs, while also providing high-quality work.
Both companies found a perfect fit by working together. Today, PRI packages, ships and fulfills both eCommerce and wholesale orders for RAD Soap Co. – with the help of its staff of people with developmental disabilities it employs through the Schenectady ARC.
RAD Soap Co. boasts a lineup of face and body soaps, creams, natural insect repellants, exfoliators and more – all products that are produced in the Capital District. Founded locally in 2009, RAD Soap has grown significantly, winning accounts with large major retailers like Whole Foods and Price Chopper. The growth has meant the company needed help with packaging and shipping, and they turned to PRI in late 2020 to get it done.
What is the benefit of hiring PRI and its team of workers sourced from the Schenectady ARC?
In the last 12 months, PRI and its employees assembled more than 90,000 finished products for market and have fulfilled and shipped more than 30,000 packages through eCommerce orders, according to the company's Chief Operating Officer, Nathan Mandsager.
“The consistent, reliable, and high-quality work that our staff does is vital in the current climate of the manufacturing industry,” says Nathan Mandsager, Chief Operating Officer at PRI. “Our ability to maintain a diverse and inclusive workforce (with all the necessary supports and coaching) allows us to differentiate from other companies. Our culture and environment create a ‘safe place’ for our staff to earn a living, produce quality work, and grow a career. Our business model allows other small businesses to attach to our culture and environment in a meaningful way that produces results and aligns with their business model.
“We work with customers who want high-quality production. The businesses rely on the work we can do. We can provide mission-driven quality that they are unable to do themselves,” Mandsager adds.
How it works
The RAD cut soaps are sent to PRI from the Capital District and the workers at PRI wrap them and get them ready for distribution. The employees also label items like RAD lip balm and bug spray, as well as hand therapy, facial cleanser, foot cream, body cream and other items that are part of the RAD line of products.
“We handle all of RAD’s e-commerce,” says Mandsager, meaning items that are ordered online and shipped. They also wholesale orders that are shipped all over the country. Whole Foods is the main customer, with 50-plus stores in the northeast. Mandsager said they also ship product to about 100 cooperative stores and soon to Price Chopper and Market 32 stores.
Kelly Frazier, Assistant Executive Director of Employment and Community Day Habilitation for the Schenectady ARC, says companies that hire people with developmental disabilities can provide a business insight into products and customers that otherwise remains untapped.
“People with disabilities tend to be loyal to companies when the fit is right, reducing turnover. They are also reliable. In some cases, the employee can produce at higher rates. For example, we support someone who works in medical coding (not at PRI). She has memorized all the codes, something others cannot do, and therefore it gives her a competitive edge against others in that field,” she says.
And the job is valuable to the employees, as well.
Zachary Gabriel has been employed at PRI since November 2020. Originally working as a temporary employee to fill a holiday rush, Zachary’s attention to detail and quality control helped him move ahead, and soon he transitioned to permanent employment.
Zachary’ s strengths and what makes him so valuable to the PRI team are his attention to detail and making sure that the e-commerce orders are correct and ready to go, says Mandsager.
“It’s relaxing and calming,” Zachary says of his job at PRI. “We all work together, and we are encouraged to take on new or more things. If we finish one thing and we want to move on, they say, ‘go on; go ahead.’ I like that.”