Published December 2023
Joseph Daniel is the owner and CEO of ITD Chemical since 2020.
Editor’s Note: In early October Cleaner Times was able to ask Joseph Daniel of ITD Chemical questions related to the relationship between a manufacturer and distributor as well as multiple questions related to chemicals.
Why should a manufacturer and distributor not be in competition?
The traditional mindset of a manufacturer is to try to “own” the end user directly and to create a list price for that end user. When the manufacturer needs local delivery, representation, or service associated with his product, he will establish distributors and give them a discount off of his list price in order to provide a profit to them to sell the product. In this model, the distributor is just a means to an end, and the manufacturer will always take direct business from the distributor if at all possible. The problem with this is that the distributor and manufacturer are in competition with each other for the same customer at the same price point, and when larger opportunities surface, the manufacturer steals the business. The manufacturer doesn’t really care for the wellbeing of the distributor, as he is just a means to an end.
In contrast to this, ITD Chemical views its relationship with distributors as the primary customer and seeks to build a very close partnership to support the distributor. That relationship becomes a joyful process of learning and growth for both parties as the knowledge between organizations is shared, and decisions are made to benefit both companies. The distributor can comfortably drop ship to its customers from ITD because ITD will never steal the customer. And without a list price, the distributor can charge whatever its local market will bear to maximize its profit.
What is the importance of having a responsive lab division at a chemical supplier?
Industrial cleaning and other similar chemical applications are a nuanced business, which does not always lend itself to a stock or standard product strategy. Often the best and most lucrative opportunities are the ones that are hard to solve with standard products or where the competitive price point demands formulaic efficiency. If you are not working with a highly responsive and capable lab, you will not be able to take advantage of these attractive situations.
At ITD we speak with customers regularly about these unique opportunities, and our lab turns out custom solutions on a weekly basis to solve the exact application demanded. Having access to developed and responsive lab resources also allows your sales force to identify exactly what a competitor’s product is so you can offer the most appropriate product to win business. It’s much easier to explain scientific facts to a customer about the differences between your superior product and the competitor’s than it is to use stale old field methods like refraction and pH strips. This is a field of science, and to win, you need to work with real scientists.
How does the increasing interest in environmentally friendly products affect business decision-making?
The most challenging part of this is educating customers about what “environmentally friendly” means and the various terms that are abused in deceptive marketing efforts. The first thing a customer should ensure is that their products don’t contain phosphates. Most modern, science-driven manufacturers such as ITD have long since moved away from phosphates as they are damaging to the environment. Most low-quality manufacturers still use phosphates because they are cheap, and the manufacturer is either lazy or doesn’t have the knowledge to formulate without them. There’s really no excuse to use phosphates unless the application specifically calls for them.
Another word often used in this discussion is “biodegradable,” which is intendend to signal environmental safety. This is true, but there are plenty of materials that are approved for use by the EPA (Safer Choice) that aren’t biodegradable. Biodegradability is a high bar for environmental safety, and it is not always achievable in given product applications.
ITD manufactures biodegradable materials whenever possible and can design products for this claim with ease, but it’s not always the best route. It’s important to understand how the chemical is ultimately diluted and where it ends up before determining if biodegradability is meaningful or not. What’s important is that you work with a manufacturer who understands the possibilities, has invested in the knowledge, and has the capability to design products that are as environmentally friendly as they can be while still performing well. It’s also worth understanding that these claims for environmental friendliness are not audited by any governmental agency, and thus we see a lot of claims for biodegradability that are not true.
What is the difference between a high-quality and low-quality detergent?
The quality of a detergent ultimately comes down to how well it can perform the intended application at the most efficient level of formulation and thus cost. Over formulated products that are too concentrated or too expensive for the application at hand cannot be considered quality detergents—they’re poorly designed for the purpose. How well a detergent can perform can of course be tested in the field, and that is the end of it as far as that goes—how well does it work? The more detailed questions are, does it work well without hurting the surface over the long term? Does it work well without hurting the environment? Does it work well without hurting the user? Does it work well without costing a fortune? Quality detergents address the need specifically, with the least amount of damage and friction resulting from use. Working with ITD Chemical will ensure these questions are answered correctly and the best product is built for the purpose.
It has been a common practice in the field to judge the quality of a detergent based on its percentage refraction, which is a crude measure of its percentage of solids or concentration. This is flawed thinking. For example, one could fill a beaker with half water and half baking soda and calculate the refraction at 50 percent. Is this a good detergent because it has a refraction of 50 percent? Of course not.
Manufacturers play games with refraction, and it’s a childish game from the 80s. The best products will use less material and achieve the same results. This is done through creative formulation and a deep understanding of the underlying chemistry. When you trust your formulator and manufacturer as ITD’s distributors do, you can move away from crude measures of quality and achieve a deeper understanding of what qualifies as a quality detergent. Of course, ITD is known for its highly concentrated products, and they will generally refract at a higher level than many competitive products as a result, but that is not the primary measure of quality that we seek.
Working with a high-quality formulator and manufacturer like ITD after years of working with a low-quality supplier is a blissful experience for our customers. It’s like awakening to the available possibilities, and it’s like finding a true partnership where everyone wins. Our best customers will attest to this if you speak with them.