We sat down with Nate Clemmer, CEO & Founder of Secure Winter Products, to learn more about his experience as an exhibitor at this year’s ISSA Show in Las Vegas, his company’s focus and relationship with sustainability, and how his brand is guiding innovation.
What was your experience as an exhibitor at the ISSA Show this year?
It was our third time at ISSA as exhibitors. We skipped last year but decided to go back this year because our product Entry® recently became the first ice melt to earn Green Seal certification. We decided to attend in part because we’ve found that the JanSan space values Green Seal approval more than other markets. This year’s ISSA Show was probably the best trade show we’ve ever been to, which says a lot because we go to a lot of trade shows.
Do you know what particularly was different about this year’s ISSA Show for Secure Winter Products?
The roots of our company are in agriculture, working with farmers, but we also work with golf courses and on residential backyards. Landscapers are a customer group of ours for these reasons, and they do a lot of winter snow management, which is how we made our way into the ice melt product space.
Historically, we’ve produced traditional chloride-based ice melts, but about four years ago we created a greener ice melt whose primary claim to fame is that it doesn’t track inside, thereby eliminating all of the cleanup that traditional granular ice melts necessitate. I feel like this year was the first year that we articulated this point well enough for people to understand that value. We worked with ISSA’s Cleaning Management Institute over the past two years to really present the data around how much money people and businesses spend on ice melt residue cleanup inside of their buildings each winter. This year we seemed to get that message right and connect with people.
Do you feel that a message of sustainability was an important one for people at the show, or would you say the financial value of a product had a stronger impact in regard to people’s engagement?
I think what helped flip the switch this year was primarily our ability to articulate the fact that we can help people and businesses save a lot of money inside of buildings on keeping the mess outside. That tends to be the number one reason people buy. I also think everyone cares about the planet, and some industries do more than others, but I have yet to see a market that buys on environmental benefit alone.
When a value proposition that stands on its own is married with a legitimate green designation, the product has a higher chance of succeeding in the market.
Financial benefit seems to be a solid leading reason for buying a product, while sustainability benefits might be the reason people tell their friends about it; costs savings is generally what compels people to buy. When a value proposition that stands on its own is married with a legitimate green designation, the product has a higher chance of succeeding in the market.
What is your company’s relationship with the message of sustainability?
We make synthetic fertilizers, but we also make alternatives to synthetic fertilizers, like certified regenerative organic products. We make a lot of chloride-based products, and then we also have Entry®, which is Green Seal certified and chloride-free. I like to tell people that we’re the pot that calls itself black, acting as both the left hand and the right hand competing with each other. But we find that this dichotomy allows us to have intelligent, effective conversations with everyone because no one feels like we’re waving our fingers in their faces regarding sustainability. Rather, we’re trying to talk about where we’ve been and where we’re going. Ultimately, we’d like to put all of the synthetic stuff that we’ve produced for a long time into the rearview mirror, but people and markets don’t move that quickly.
Change is hard when someone feels like they’re being attacked or judged.
I think part of the reason consumers don’t move the needle quickly in making better decisions for our planet is that environmental conversations sometimes shut people down. Change is hard when someone feels like they’re being attacked or judged. People choose their side of the ring, and it can be difficult to move people once they’ve made that decision. Secure Winter Products is fortunate to live in both worlds, so people are willing to listen to us maybe a little bit more than they’ll listen to some others brands.
What is Entry®, the ice melt product that received the Green Seal Certification and Innovation Awards at ISSA?
If there is too much salt in water, it starts to mimic saltwater, which is the issue with chloride salts traditionally used to melt ice and snow. With Entry®, we introduce another type of ice melting solution that is chloride free, so it has no salts in it, but is also readily biodegradable and highly effective. Not only is Entry® better for the environment, but because Entry® is a liquid-based product, people are less likely to overuse it. Part of the challenge with a granular chloride salt is that it’s hard to control where you put it. With Entry®, you only need very little to be effective, you can control where it’s applied, and you can consider its environmental impact as being quite soft.