A pandemic is a good time to be in the disinfectant business.
That blue liquid that barbers and hairstylists drop used combs into between services — Barbicide — is selling more than ever before.
Milwaukee-based King Research Inc. makes the blue Barbicide disinfectant and other cleaning products under the BlueCo Brands label.
Salons and barbershops started ordering more Barbicide and other cleaning products "about the same time the world ran out of toilet paper," King Research President Alan Murphy said. With concern for cleanliness and sterilization heightened, King Research is experiencing unprecedented growth for its cleaning products.
The company has moved from working five days a week to a seven-day production schedule and can still barely keep up with demand. It added new lines in its mostly automated manufacturing facility.
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It streamlined production to sell only one product — half-gallon jugs of Barbicide. So far in 2020, the company has sold more half-gallon jugs of Barbicide than in all of 2019, Murphy said. The company has shipped products from its facility on Milwaukee's northwest side every day during the crisis, Murphy said.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused unprecedented growth for the disinfectant company. Barbicide was ready to grow around 12% this year, Murphy said. Sales in March, April and May have been around four times higher than in the same months last year.
"I don't think that's real, long-term growth," he said. "I think it will settle." The products are sold in all 50 states, Canada, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. The majority of sales are within the United States.
BlueCo Brands include Barbicide, Lucky Tiger, Triple Lanolin and Ship-Shape, among others. More than 120 people work in the office, manufacturing and warehousing operations for Barbicide, Murphy said. Barbicide was founded in 1947 in New York. The company moved to Milwaukee in 2006.
It's not just selling disinfectant. The company has expanded its free online certification program for nail, hair and barbershops.
Barbicide launched a COVID-19 certification program May 4 with information about best practices to keep hairstylists and customers safe like requiring everyone to wear masks. More than 694,500 certificates have been issued as of May 26. The existing Barbicide certification has issued more than 618,700 certificates between March 1 and May 26.
The company is encouraging people to post pictures with their certificates on Instagram using #BarbicideBlue. The hashtag has been used in more than 3,500 posts.
More than 2,600 establishments registered with Barbicide's Certified Safe Service Establishment Program for a $30 fee between May 4 and May 26.
Crystal Olson has been buying Barbicide since she opened her Grafton salon and spa Allure 12 years ago.
Before her employees returned to work, Olson required all 13 stylists, nail technician and two estheticians to complete the Barbicide certificate. Allure reopened May 26.
"We do have a few stylists that were really nervous," Olson said. "Taking that certification made them feel safer."
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