Earth Friendly Products vs. Green works
Earth Friendly Products vs. Green works
The challenge: Can a small, family-run business hold its own against a cleaning products giant?

What they did: Arriving in the U.S. at age 18, Greek immigrant Van Vlahakis worked as a waiter to make his way through Roosevelt University's chemistry program before becoming a chemist in the cleaning products industry. Laid off in 1967, he found his niche after Rachel Carson's 1962 bestseller Silent Spring inspired him to focus on green cleaners and change his company's name to Earth Friendly Products. Today the profitable 300-employee firm in Garden Grove, Calif., brings in, it says, $100 million-plus in revenue. Lacking a big ad budget, Earth Friendly sparks sales through in-store demos at retailers like Costco. Vlahakis, 77, keeps his team loyal by doling out the equivalent of up to eight weeks' salary in bonuses for holidays, like, you guessed it, Earth Day.

By Elaine Pofeldt, contributor @FortuneMagazine - Last updated March 21 2012: 6:25 AM ET
Join the Conversation
Atrium staffing vs. Manpower

Temps are like soldiers of fortune. How do you get them to stay put and remain loyal?

Most Popular

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.