By Alan Cochrane – January 9, 2018
Luc Jalbert is on a mission to make the world less smelly, one toilet at a time.
“We started 13 years ago, with a mission to educate consumers that there is something that really works to stop the smell when you go number 2, but you have to use it before you go,” Jalbert said Tuesday. “Just put a drop or two into the toilet bowl before you sit down on the toilet with your paper, and it will create a barrier to stop the smell.”
Jalbert is the co-founder of Prelam Enterprises, a Moncton-based company that makes a variety of products that are chemically designed to surround and deodorize the smelly gas molecules associated with going to the toilet.
On Saturday, he will make his 30th trip to China, where he will announce that two of those products, Just’a Drop and Just’a Spray are now sold by major Chinese retailers, Jalbert said making deals to sell these products in cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong represents a huge market with millions of potential costumers.
He said Prelam received support from Opportunities New Brunswick, which helped him make deals with distributors and retailers in China. Opportunity New Brunswick is a Crown corporation that seeks to attract and support opportunities to grow the economy and create jobs. Opportunities N.B. could not provide a spokesperson Tuesday to comment on next week’s trade mission and the support to Prelam Enterprises.
The Prelam products are developped, packaged and shipped from a single office and warehouse space on Baig Boulevard in the Moncton Industrial Park, which can produce 12 million bottles per year. The company has 12 employees, including full-time chemists, graphic artists and marketing specialists.
Besides Just’a Drop and Just’a Spray, Prelam has anti-odour sprays with catchy names like Poop-Eh!, Oh Crap, Pooping Bad and It wasn’t Me! For Valentine’s Day, there’s Love At First Poo, a toilet spray with the catch-phrase ” roses are red, violets are blue. spray in the bowl before you poo.”
The products are already sold at retailers in Canada, the U.S., Chile, Mexico and the Philippines. In Mexico, the Spanish translation is Gotaroma.
Jalbert said getting the products into China is a huge deal for him.
” I’ve always bought raw materials and packaging from China, but now I’m going back to sell the products there.”
Jalbert said he’s learned a lot about Chinese culture, language, government regulations and business practices over his 29 previous trips. One of the biggest obstacles about doing business has been language, and he’s still looking for employees who can translate marketing material from English.
Over the last 13 years, he’s heard lots of jokes about bodily functions and the smells associated with them. He’s also a bit of a David competing with corporate Goliaths who offer similar products. Without huge advertising budget, Prelam has staged a variety of promotional stunts. At one point, Jalbert set up a toilet in the middle of New York city’s Time Square, where people could sit to fill out a survey and pick up free samples.
“Free samples are great for marketing. I gave away lots of samples because I knew every time somebody tried it, they would tell 15 other people and make jokes about it, and they’d remember it.”
As he takes aim at toilet odours around the world, Jalbert is also marketing Luky 8 brand of skin creams and associated grooming products for men, These will also be available at stores in China.
Meanwhile, the company’s research and development department continues to work on industrial-strength odour elimination sprays for use in cattle barns, chicken coops, pig pens and other smelly places around the world.
How New Brunswick’s Prelam Enterprises Freshened Up the Air Freshener Market
Moncton’s Prelam Enterprises is leading in the business of making sure your poo doesn’t stink.
The company is the maker of Just ‘a Drop, the product that founders Luc Jalbert and Don Goguen claim was the first ever to prevent odour before you, you know, go “number two.”
“Everybody kept asking ‘how much do you put in the [toilet] bowl?’ says Jalbert. “And we kept saying ‘just a drop, that’s all you need.’ That’s how the name came about.”
Officially launched in 2005 at Walmart Canada, Just ‘a Drop had to compete with air freshening heavyweights like SC Johnson and Proctor & Gamble. But Jalbert says Just ‘a Drop was the only product on shelves at the time that offered a more … preventable neutralizing liquid solution to foul bathroom odours.
“We were the only one until a few years ago when people started copying us. So for us, it was pretty easy initially to compete against them because they didn’t have a competing product,” Jalbert says. “Then some copy-cats started to show up and that’s normal in business. We had to educate consumers, so we put in a lot of money in Canada to advertise on TV [and] educate our consumers about Just ‘a Drop and its benefits, why you use it before you go and why it really works.”
Though Prelam Enterprises put a lot of work into promoting the product nationally through advertising, Jalbert says their customers are their biggest ambassadors and are the company’s number one way of advertising.
“It makes people giggle because we’re talking about ‘number twos’, so it’s not sexy to talk about, but it’s funny … People make jokes all the time,” he says. “That’s what people seem to like. They like the fact that it works and you don’t have to be embarrassed.”
The giggle factor and the fact that it’s allowing people to openly discuss the taboo topic of bowel movements were what got Just ‘a Drop some big media attention. The product has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Howard Stern Show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch and CBC’s Venture.
It also got attention from competitors. Last year, Reckitt Benckiser, makers of Air Wick, approached Prelam to license its formula to use in some of their products.
“Air Wick approached us to license and make us produce for them under Just ‘a Spray, a new derivative of Just ‘a Drop,’ Jalbert says. “They are water-based formulas so we produce over a million bottles for Air Wick. So ironically, a competition approached to produce for them.”
Jalbert says being approached by Air Wick showed they created something that was making a splash.
“It was a big deal. It validated that we were an innovator in a category. We were the pioneers in that space, the bathroom,” he says. “We’re not an air freshener, we’re solely focused on your ‘number two’ situation and identified that to the point where they’ve launched in eight countries already … It’s validating that we were on the right track all along and that we were innovative.”
Prelam now has several “Just ‘a” products lines. Jalbert says in the next three months Just ‘a Drop and Just ‘a Spray will be released for retail in the United States. It’s already in stores in Mexico and Chile. There are plans this spring and summer to expand in the European and Chinese markets as well.
“Just A’ Drop is going to maintain itself. It’s like a bottle of ketchup, everybody needs it when they run out. So we’re going to keep going to market,” Jalbert says. “We’re just going to keep growing markets and expanding our territories.”
“If you’re looking for a fix either for workplace poos or when you’re on the go or at a friend’s house this should be of great help to you.(…)If we all took common courtesies like that the world would be a better place, or at least a better-smelling place.”
“We suggest you pick some up the next time you’re out shopping as their products are available at most grocery stores and pharmacies in Canada. Seriously though, you’ll save a ton on air fresheners :)”
“I don’t know that there is any product available that can be 100% effective in killing the smells that the human body can produce, but Just a Drop surprised us.”
“With no high hopes we put a bottle on the back of the toilet for the next person who needed it. After a few days of the whole family giving it a trial run I 100% eat my original words. This product does what it says it will! There was no disguised odours.”
“Their innovative products, created to get rid of bathroom odours before they reach anyone’s nose work perfectly and bring fantastic results.”
“I decided to use Refreshing Spring on my bathroom adventure today. I placed a drop in the toilet and went about my business. When I was finished I flushed, washed my hands and made a mental note that I couldn’t really smell anything…”
“Just a Drop does a great job, (…) I put in a couple drops before they go and when I lend a hand I am not bombarded with a foul odour. Parents everywhere will love this product.”