June 2006: Times & Transcript

Moncton takes fresh air to the Big Apple.

New Yorkers on bathroom habits

A Moncton based company is using some guerilla marketing tactics to take on air-care industry giants like Proctor & Gamble and SC Johnson.Moncton’s Luc Jalbert, vice-president of Prelam Enterprises, and his business team followed the stink all the way to Times Square in New York City this week to bring their Just’a Drop air-care product to the masses.

Just’a Drop, which is available in Moncton and nation-wide at Wal-Mart and Jean Coutu, is described as “the only air-care product that suppresses unpleasant bathroom odours at the source – before they escape into the air. Parking their shiny white porcelain toilet on the sidewalk at the foot of Virgin Mega-Store, the ragtag team did their best to cause some Big Apple commotion as they asked New Yorkers to “sit down and be counted” by taking a survey that looks into their bathroom habits and odour preferences.

They were also urging passerby to take the survey online at www.odourvoter.com.

The irreverent street campaign, which has already passed through Montreal and will touch down in Toronto on Canada Day, received a number of interesting visitors such as the world-famous Naked Cowboy, who took a seat at the throne and sang a song that gathered hordes of curious onlookers.
The Howard Stern Show also checked in to see what all the fuss was about, and ran the interview twice Wednesday.

Although Jalbert hadn’t made any arrangements with City officials prior to taking his products to the streets of NYC, Just’a Drop has indeed made quite a splash as initial looks of apprehension turned to curious smiles as strangers approached the toilet.

“It’s a guerilla activity, and for a guerilla activity you have to just show up. It’s a madhouse out here,” said a very pleased Jalbert speaking from his cellphone on Wednesday as the Odour Voter promotion continued to unfold to the sound track of New York traffic.

The operation even drew attention from some of Manhattan’s finest.

“We couldn’t believe it. Even the cops were asking us for samples.”

Without the millions of dollars juggernauts like Proctor & Gamble and SC Johnson spend on advertising, Moncton’s Prelam Enterprises doesn’t have much choice but to be creative in their push to gain North American market share in the lucrative air-care industry.

As the obvious underdog in a David & Goliath battle over the world’s toilets, Jalbert and his colleagues have clearly adopted a “go big or go home attitude” that allows them to punch way above their weight.But so far the advertising campaign is paying off for the company that produces
its biodegradable product in the Moncton Industrial Park.

Prelam is also looking to markets in Japan and the United Kingdom. “I think we’re going to make a splash in the United States. It’s the beginning of it, we still have a lot of work to do though, nothing is easy,” said Jalbert.

April 2006: The Evening News

Ambitious entrepreneurs tackle odour problem
Moncton-based entrepreneurs are making a big splash in North America by tackling the universal problem of embarrassing bathroom odours.

Luc Jalbert and Don Goguen of Prelam Enterprises have seen their latest innovation, the aptly named Just’a Drop™, take off in Canada. The product is a revolutionary toilet freshener – one drop in the bowl before you go that neutralizes offensive odours before they become an embarrassing problem. With a firm grasp of Canadian market now in hand, Prelam is looking to grow its success south of border.

Read More

September 2005: Times & Transcript (2)

All it takes is Just’a drop.
Inventor says no bathroom should be without new product that neutralizes unwanted odours before they happen.
Luc Jalbert can smell success. He says it has a hint of lime.
Luc Jalbert is the vice-president of Prelam Enterprises Inc., which had made the Moncton Industrial Park Home to a product Jalbert says no bathroom should be without.

Just’a Drop is a new kind of air freshener developed by the local company.
“Right before you sit down, you just put in one drop and you’ll see a film created on top of the water.”
Jalbert says, explaining the biodegradable product almost completely eliminates bathroom odours.
Prelam started running commercial featuring Just’a Drop on the Weather network and Météomédia at the end of August and just started a local campaign.
The company started selling the product nearly a year ago, and got their big break this spring when it appeared in Wal-Mart stores nation-wide, but Jalbert says it’s the television commercials that have made a big difference in sales.
« Now we’re feeling the momentum, » he says. « Sales were slow, but nobody knew what it was… We saw our two biggest days (at Wal-Mart) in the last three days. »
Jalbert came across the formula while in China on a business trip. He brought it back and gave it to partner Don Goguen to test.
Goguen didn’t mention the product again for some time. « One day he just walked into my office and said ‘hey, that stuff really works! » Jalbert says. They knew they had a winner but they also had a dilemma.
« The challenge was to create a marketing strategy. You are talking about poop, » he says, « We had to get the consumer talking about something nobody talks about. »
They also needed a way to let people know how the product works.
« Everything else you buy is for after, ours is for before, » he says. « Normally you would just spray the can (of freshener) and hope nobody goes in, whereas this actually fills the air with a nice, clean smell and neutralizes odours. »That`s where the TV spots have come in handy – that, and a deal with Irving Tissue to package samples of the product with their Majesta brand toilet paper.
Jalbert says once they get people to try their product once, they’re hooked. « I tested with my dentist, my doctor, my accountant. People were still using it six months later, » he says. « The question was how do I get the mass population to test it without going broke? So we made a deal with Irving Tissue and they put samples in 25,000 packages which got distributed to Wal-Mart. »
Now Just’a Drop is poised to go global. Jalbert says he’s already working with interested parties in Japan, the UK and the US.
« That tells me we really have a winner. It’s a heck of a healthy sign, » he says. « We`re still the little guys, but we are starting to be proud of that… We are going to revolutionize the way people got to the bathroom. »
Jalbert says they are also working on two spin off products – a smaller, even more portable product and an automatic dispenser that would add a drop to the water when you sit on the seat.

September 2005: Times & Transcript

A scoop on poop with no stink

Some days my job is worth waking up for.
Those are the days when you head home at night and feel you’ve had some kind of positive impact on the world. The days when you write a piece and it “sings” as we say in the “biz”, meaning you have written prose that would be Pulitzer-worthy if those Pulitzer folks would just pick a copy of Times &
They are the days when stories you tell are gripping and gritty, when you hit a source that can articulate their story in a compelling way.
And then there are the interviews, and these are often my favorite ones of all, when you hang up the phone and think “well, I won’t soon forget that one!”
They’re few and far between, but I had one of those last Friday when I had the pleasure of doing a halfhour interview about poop. No, that was not a typo. I did an interview about poop. Actually not so much about poop per se as about how a local company’s new product helps eliminate the unpleasant odours associated with said action.
I can somehow picture these folks dreaming up this product with some king of Eureka’s moment and then the excitement slowly draining from them as they realize their conundrum: they’ve come up with a product that everyone wants to use, but no one wants to talk about.
I mean, how do you explain it nicely?
Luc Jalbert, the vice-president of Prelam Enterprises, the company that makes Just’a Drop, the indelicate product in question, has had a lot of practice. He’s become refreshingly frank about the whole thing. After all, he explains philosophically, it’s something everyone has to do.
True, but paradoxically, the product is aimed directly at those who would rather the rest of us never know they just did what everyone has to do.
Faced with this dilemma, what does a good company do? Prelam has apparently decided to tackle thing head on.
Their TV commercial does not feature courtesy flowers floating in the air as a well-dressed family (mom dad, one girl, one boy and a dog) breathe deep in the sweet smelling sanctity of their bathroom.Nope, Prelam has gone with an ostrich sticking its head in the sand as an announcer intones “Is this what you do after your husband uses the bathroom?” and a raccoon praying no one will use the facilities right after him (and for deliverance from the stench one assumes.)
Their packaging features a little cartoon man sitting on the potty, then standing with his smiling family members afterwards.
Mid-interview I get the giggles as Mr. Jalbert explains their excitement over a deal with Irving Tissue to include samples of the product in 25,000 packages of toilet paper. “Twenty-five thousand people are going for a poop with our product “he says.
I’m sorry, but poo is funny. I bet you’re laughing right now.
Luckily I am doing a phone interview so he doesn’t have to watch as I lose it and I sound admirably in control by the time I ask my next question.
I’d love to hear someone interview him live on television or radio.
But the real challenge come post interview. How does one write up a story about going to number 2? What does one call it, for instance, so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of one’s readres.”
But then, this is the kind of challenge that makes my job worth getting up for. It may not change the world ( well, actually it might help make it smell better), but it’s already got me smiling and sometime that’s changes enough.

June 2005: Canadian Business

The sweet smell of success
Everybody stinks,that’s not a putdown, just a fact of everyday life. And we devote a lot of time and money proving we don’t.Canadians spent $144 millions on air freshners, including sprays, plug-ins, oils and, in the case of Procter and Gamble, a disc player that doesn’t spin music, but scents, among them Shania Twain’s wishes for Spring. The companies sugar-coat these products by using words like “disinfect” and “cleanse”, but all customers really want is get rid of horrifying odours before someone else runs into them.
read more

May 2005: Globe and Mail

Moncton company a breath of fresh air

A Moncton business with an innovative bathroom air freshener has been named finalist in a national competition for new products.

The Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors management team of the Canadian Grand Prix New Products Awards has named Prelam Enterprise’s ‘Just a Drop’ Magic Odor Neutralizer a Grand Prix finalist in the non-food category for 2004-05.

Prelam Enterprises, owned by Don Goguen and Luc Jalbert recently introduced the product promoting it as innovative and revolutionary. According to Jalbert “It is quite unlike traditional air fresheners.”

He explained “A drop of the liquid freshener in the toilet bowl before use immediately seals in any offensive odors, which are flushed away leaving a clear, minty scent. The product is different from any we have seen and we are extremely pleased to have it along side other Prelam
air fresheners.”

Just a Drop is being sold in Walmart stores across Canada and is expected to be in other retailers nation-wide over the coming weeks. The two Moncton men will travel to Montreal for a Gala awards night Sunday May 29. Master of Ceremonies for the evening will be Ben Mulroney.

March 2005: L’alimentation Magazine

Perfume the taboos

Extract from “ Le grand ménage : entre les fleurs et les germes »- Denyse Perrault- L’alimentation

Fortunately for our nostrils and for the ego of inconvenienced people, the market is full of products that help us overcoming this issue, at least when there is a real bathroom. Among those discoveries, we see Prelam’s odour neutraliser Just’a Drop. This small company based in Moncton New Brunswick, offers a non-toxic, biodegradable and safe for septics product. Portable, it comes in a small plastic bottle which contains 15 ml of an almost miraculous solution with a travel case. One drop of Just’a Drop in the toilet bowl prior to use eliminates foul odours while leaving a light and fresh scent.

“We believe this product will revolutionize the way people use their bathroom, says Luc Jalbert, Prelam co-owner and vice-president. It will particularly improve the life of people who have to wear a stoma bag, those who have Crohn’s disease or other ailments. This product was introduced to the Atlantic market last September. Since then, I met people claiming before Just’a Drop, they did not dare to get out. Now they feel free to go wherever they want. Until now, consumers had to purchase costly sprays to eliminate odours. I think we are the first in North America to offer this kind of product that we discovered in South-East Asia. There is a lot of Asian who don’t appreciate foul odours, just like us. We adapted the formula using plant extracts, a little bit of disinfectant and perfume, nothing harsh. In addition, this water treatment fights germs.”

Specialised in air care, Prelam’s owners chose China to produce their product line to keep their competition with big companies. They also bet on innovation to entice the category. Prelam’s Aromatherapy product line contains a liquid air freshener with deodoriser in a fancy bottle which the
look reminds more of an ornament than a convenient basic spray. The available fragrances are Green Apple, Orange and Lavender, made from a mix of natural essential oils. Aromatherapy incense stick line has four scents: Lavender burst, Tranquility, Forest Mist and seashore. The packaging looks like a jewel case and contains twelve incense sticks and a holder. Each stick burns for 25 minutes.

For cars, the company suggests its new Cutie Fresh, a Pink Lavender, French Vanilla or Fresh Air fragrances dispenser in the form of a teddy bear. In 2005, they will launch Funky Monkey with the same scents as Cutie Fresh. With a new addition to the line, Sachet will be available in a pack of two or six, with the same scents. They can be used anywhere around the house, even in the garbage or closets. They will also introduce the decorative air freshener Flower scent, which contains refillable crystals scents.

The air purification in the vehicle’s fans was not forgotten. Prelam introduce two air fresheners which can be hooked on the fan to eliminate embarrassing odours like vomit, cat urine or tobacco. Eclypse the odour neutraliser contains scented oil which last two months. In the stores, you can find Mountain Fresh, French Vanilla, Fresh Air as well as anti-tobacco, Fresh Oranges and Lavender. Three scents are available for Aerofresh SX which diffuses a scented oil of Tropical Fresh, French Vanilla and AntiTobacco.

Prelam is in the fourth place in a very competitive market.

December 2004 – Atlantic Business

The Sweet Smell of Success
Two entrepreneurs in Moncton, NB, have literally taken the time to smell the roses and are now parlaying the moment into a multi-million dollar business going head-to-head against the likes of S.C. Johnson and Proctor & Gamble. Luc Jalbert and Don Goguen, owners of Prelam Enterprises Inc., are in the air freshener business and after just 18 months they have become the Atlantic David to a group of international Goliaths.

With brokers in the Maritimes, Québec, Ontario and Western Canada and warehouse facilities in Moncton and Branford, Ontario, the Jalbert-Goguen team continues to expand its growing line of national retailers to include Wal-Mart, Zellers, Canadian Tire, Sobeys, Home Hardware, Petro-Canada, IGA, Uniprix, UniSelect and Shoppers. They also continue to push for prime retail space, inching alongside the big guys for optimum customer reach.

Business hasnʼt always smelled so sweet. In the early days, Jalbert and Goguen learned that introducing new, innovative products to an uninformed marketplace is a hard way to make money. “If there was one thing we learned from the though times,” says Luc Jalbert, “it was that, in order to be successful, Prelam had to have products that consumers could identify with and want… over and over again.”

Their fortunes changed after a trip to Hong Kong almost two years ago. Happening upon an innovative car air freshener, the partners brought the product into Canada and test marketed it at retail operations like Irving gas bars, Jean Coutu and Shoppers. The air freshener was an immediate hit and today, Prelam is Canadaʼs premier air freshener company – rising to number four in sales amidst competitive superstars like S.C. Johnson.

December 2004 – Telegraph Journal

Prelam getting whiff of success
Moncton company hopes toilet freshener will be the next big thing among its air-care products. Moncton – Two Moncton entrepreneurs hope to make a big splash dealing with a subject thatʼs generally taboo. Luc Jalbert and Don Goguen, owners of Prelam Enterprises Ltd., expect their ʻJustʼa Dropʻ product will “which the way people go to the bathroom” by eliminating unpleasant smells.
The new product line, which involves squirting a drop of the pleasantly-scented solution in the toilet bowl prior to use, eliminates both odors and the need for other air fresheners, bathroom fans or even the humble match.

“Itʼs an embarrassing situation for everybody,” Mr. Jalbert explains during an interview at his firmʼs west-end office where the companyʼs five employees work. “It has a neutralizer that actually kills everything while youʼre going about things. This saves the embarrassment.”
Prelam, which competes against international heavy-weights like S.C. Johnson and Procter & Gamble in the air freshener business, will unveil its new product line at the large-scale Grocery Innovation trade show in Toronto on Monday.

“Itʼs fully biodegradable, safe for your septic tank and non-toxic,” Mr. Jalbert says, noting the product, which he first came across during one of his frequent business trips to China, uses plant extracts.

Wal-Mart has also already signed on to begin carrying the product early next year and the pair hopes to entice other stores across the country to begin carrying the product.

Contunue…Mr. Goguen points out that the small bottle also comes with a travel case, meaning you can bring it anywhere from sports events and house parties to business meetings and the office.

The two men started developing, importing and selling air-care products after a tumultuous couple of years when it seemed every product Prelam had was impossible to get to market without an exorbitant and unaffordable price-tag.

“But if there was one thing we learned from the tough times, it was that in order to be successful Prelam had to have products that consumers could identify with and want over and over again,” Mr. Jalbert says.

The latest product is made in China, but Mr. Jalbert says he makes sure the factories treat workers well. Things really got going for Prelam which was incorporated in 1999 and until this week also did lamination work, about two years ago. During a market trip to Hong Kong, Mr. Jalbert happened upon an innovative car air freshener and realized he might be on to something big.

He brought in a supply to Canada and test marketed it with retail operations like Irving gas bars, Jean Coutu and Shoppers Drug Mart. Mr. Jalbert says the air fresheners proved to be an immediate hit and now the company is Canadaʼs premier air freshener company rising to number four in sales in a very competitive sector.

Prelam now has brokers throughout Canada and warehouse facilities in Moncton and Brampton, Ontario.

“The big guys have 3,000 people working for them in research and development, weʼre just two guys,” Mr.Jalbert says. “our goal is to become very strong in Canada and then penetrate the U.S. market.”

November 2004

November: Excerpt from “Balancing Act” (Canadian Grocer Magazine)

“Take air care products, for example. The niche has now become a battleground for Fortune 500 companies such as SC Johnson, along with plucky newcomers such as Prelam Enterprises Ltd., a Moncton, NB. Company that develops and markets scented products for cars and homes. Prelam marketing manager Luc Jalbert explains: “The air care business is worth $130 million a year in Canada and grocery stores do 40% of it.” At SC Johnson’s Toronto office, product manager Tara St. John notes that women buy 89% of the products and that scents come and go at the rate of 25 a year. Battles are being fought for the loyalty of the noses of the nation. Grocers are trophies in this market that, Jalbert says, is growing at 12% to 15% a year, driven by a desire for comfort. Soon Prelam will launch a product that Jalbert says, will revolutionize Canadians’ bathroom habits.”
*Excerpt taken from Canadian Grocer Magazine – November 2004