28. Eric Ryan & Adam Lowry
40u40 main eric ryan adam lowry
Ryan (left) and Lowry (right)

Eric Ryan
Age: 39
Co-founder and chief brand architect

Adam Lowry
Age: 38
Co-founder and chief greenskeeper


The hip 12-year-old green cleaning-product maker hit $100 million in sales faster than consumer brand phenoms like Nike, Ben & Jerry's, and Snapple. Rivals took notice. For much of the past year co-founders Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry have been busy "seeing off the pretenders," as Lowry puts it. In early August the duo faced a major decision: Should they sacrifice their independence to merge with Belgian competitor Ecover? Pulling the trigger doubled the size of their company's revenue, and Lowry and Ryan will continue as before, across the larger company—with Lowry heading up sustainability efforts and Ryan overseeing brand projects in the mold of Method's fast-selling product line at Target, a collaboration with designer Orla Kiely. "We like to say that we sold out, but we didn't sell out," Ryan jokes. "I've started a company, I've sold a company, but I've never transitioned a company before."

Water babies: Both Lowry and Ryan hit the water to de-stress: they're serious sailors.


  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated October 17 2012 05:11 PM ET
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