INTRO: From humble beginnings at a shopfront in Beenleigh, OzKleen’s rise to the top has been
both challenging and rapid. After just a decade in business OzKleen is competing directly with
multinational manufacturers. OzKleen Director Tom Quinn talks about the company’s journey.
How and when did you get your start?
"We got a big break when Woolworths agreed to list Shower Power. The buyer took the trouble of
taking home the product to test it. Luckily for us, she found Shower Power removed a stain on her
basin that she had never been able to remove. That’s what got us onto the shelves. Within six
months of achieving national distribution, Shower Power became the number one selling product
in the “household cleaner” category and has retained its position ever since."
Where did your start-up capital come from?
"Through borrowing against real estate assets owned by the two partner families."
What is your biggest challenge as a small-to-medium business?
"Because we are competing directly with huge multinational manufacturers, we’ve had to prove
ourselves for supermarket chains to concede we are capable of meeting production needs on a
national and international level."
Why did you decide to start exporting?
"After the success of Shower Power, we started to think about developing a new product. But
unlike our competitors, we didn’t have the capital to fund teams of chemists and research
laboratories. That’s when we decided that the best opportunity for us to expand was to make the
most of the exceptional product we already had by targeting overseas markets."
What's your best tip for someone wanting to export?
"Don’t think too much about it, just go and do it. That’s all we did. We just got on a plane and went
there, then looked up the phonebook and the Internet."
What's been your biggest stroke of luck or good planning?
"We’ve had many. Most significantly, I think we had the good fortune of developing such an
exceptional product like Shower Power within just two years of being in business."
What's been the key to your success?
"Simplicity and discipline. We reduced our product range from 100 down to one in the first two
years. Only now are we slowly expanding our range to include Carpet Power and Prewash
Power. We’ve been disciplined in our expansion by limiting it to our cash flow and ability to
support our own growth."
What mistakes have you made?
"When we started in the UK, we made two big mistakes. The first was not having someone on the
ground and the second one was not advertising heavily enough when we secured our first
supermarket chain. This resulted in us being de-listed by that chain. We then had to work twice
as hard to recoup lost ground to move forward."
What would you have done differently?
"We would have applied the same strategy that we are now using to enter the French market. We
have someone on the ground and are advertising aggressively including via television
Who do you rely on most for guidance - yourself or advisers. If advisers, who?
"We find most advice for product development comes from our existing customers. We actually
got the idea for Carpet Power from one of our Shower Power fans who wrote to us saying there
was nothing on the market that effectively removed carpet stains and that we should do
something about it. We have two families involved in the business and we all bounce ideas among us about all sorts of issues from ways to improve production facilities to marketing strategies. And then we have specialist advisors for business services in all professions. We always seek to deal with the best people in each profession."
What prevents you from being a bigger business?
"Just the limitation of our thinking."
What's your best piece of advice to someone starting a new business?