Important Announcement from Seventh Generation | Seventh Generation
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Important Announcement from Seventh Generation

Author: Seventh Generation

In the life of every company, there inevitably comes a time when difficult decisions must be made. These moments are rarely deliberately sought but instead thrust upon us by unexpected circumstances and unforeseen events. Recently, Seventh Generation faced such a situation and in the end made a change that we want you to know about: Our co-founder Jeffrey Hollender's employment relationship with the company has ended.

Two years ago, Jeffrey saw the need to bring in a senior leader with the skills and background to take Seventh Generation to a whole new level; to bring our vision of corporate responsibility and respect for the environment to scale; and in so doing, provide more consumers with products designed to protect their homes and the planet. The result was the hiring, in June of 2009, of Chuck Maniscalco as our new CEO. As Chuck said at the time, he came because he believed he had the skills and capabilities to help the company grow, and he believed deeply in the mission of this company. He came to provide better product choices to more and more consumers, and he came to show that there is a better way to run a business that can be an example for others to follow.

As you know, Jeffrey Hollender's entrepreneurial passion and dedication brought Seventh Generation to life and nurtured it for more than two decades. He has, through Seventh Generation, strived to set a higher standard for how to operate a business in a truly responsible and sustainable way. His is a legacy worthy of the highest respect and admiration.

We recognize that you may have questions about this change that are not fully answered by this announcement. Transparency has been a hallmark of Seventh Generation and we want to assure you that transparency about our products and our business practices will continue, because we think you have a right to know. We hope you understand that there are instances where honoring privacy and personal circumstances are equally or more important considerations, and this is just such a case.

Finally, we want to emphasize to you that, although our leadership has changed, our aspirations have not. We will continue to do all that is within our power to drive our business and our social mission forward. We thank Jeffrey for his vision and for the company he has built. And we thank you as well for allowing us to be a part of your life. Seventh Generation has a rewarding road ahead, but this success springs not from one individual, but from the synergy that comes when many act together to realize a singular ideal. That's the task before us now, and with your continued help and support, we are certain we'll achieve it.


Lavinia Weissman picture
Lavinia Weissman
I have given a lot of thought to this and now here is Part 3, which is my response to this announcement, what I see and what the opportunity may be. Reliable product information is just one very important aspect of the implications of this change. I will have a new post up on Monday, describing aspects of what the entire stakeholder community needs to think about going forward re: Seventh Generation and forming a new method of leadership that retains the talent that made this company what it is before all this turmoil. Lavinia Weissman @workecology on Twitter
earthspirit picture
Accepting that the world keeps turning and that things do change in the course of the years, your announcement about Jeffrey's "departure" is extremely confusing to say the least. You (whoever wrote about his departure) assure us that you want to stick to transparancy then you proceed to prove exactly the opposite. What is truly insulting is that you obviously thought we're so dum we'd swallow your poor attempt at an (non)explanation. Maybe it is time to learn the definition of transparancy? But please spare us this diatribe about "respecting privacy". Managers come and go, that's a given. Disagreements do happen too, people get fired too. No matter the reason behind Jeffrey's "departure" it would have been better to come out with it and give us an honest explanation without getting into details. You'll allow me to say that by writing this piece you have created great doubts about your (and therefore your company's) honesty and reliability. It should therefore be no surprise to you when people start buying elsewhere. Once you break people's trust they turn away from you, and rightly so. You know: action / reaction. I like Jeffrey and admire him very much, no matter what he wrote about one felt his integrity, his honesty, his deep care for the people and the world around him. I'm sorry he had (or felt he had) to go. And I'm sorry I'm left with a company where an employee writes an article about SG's main driving force for years, that calls for more more questions than it gives answers. If this is the attitude concerning a great achiever, how reliable will your product information be in the future?
christine arena picture
christine arena
Just returned from the grocery store, where I filled up my cart with Seventh Gen products. This is my way of telling Seventh Gen management, "I'm still here." I have been here consistently for over six years, buying Seventh Gen in lieu of competing brands. And for now I am staying with the brand, in suspense of what the company will do next, and equally important, what it will say. With respect to the stream of comments above, I have faith that new management understands that integrity and transparency aren't just corporate values. They are corporate assets to be earned, protected and leveraged. I'm looking forward to the time when new management sticks its neck out just the way Hollender used to – not in the form of a static statement, but rather, a productive, two-way dialog that addresses the looming concerns stakeholders have about the company's present and future course. It can start by posting a comment to this stream ;)
krystle1022 picture
As long as the ingredients do not change, and they continue to not do testing on animals I will continue to purchase.
Lavinia Weissman picture
Lavinia Weissman
Issues related to safe chemical practices are challenging. Entire countries, Europe, US, Korea and China have not worked it out. And the onus has been put on private companies. The way in which we address these issues has to change. I hope you will read the post I published today and separate out the challenge of Safe Chemical Practices from Jeffrey Hollender's departure. His departure and its implications to Seventh Generation are actually a different issue from the challenge today for communities of people to do deal with safe chemical practices. Here is the link to this post. From my twitter: @ WorkEcology The Green Chemistry Challenge, Can 7Gen & P&G rise to the occasion? #csr #csrwire #safechem Lavinia Weissman @workecology on Twitter
Dave82 picture
I'll post a comment that I posted on Marc Gunther's page... "...suggesting that all former Pepsico execs are ‘bad’ seems a bit harsh. Kind of like ‘all environmentally concerned citizens are tree-hugging wackos’…which of course, is not true." Or is it?
patkr picture
Jeff Hollender does the right thing and with the most honorable intention. No pepsi--- This is what happens when good intentions and involvment with the wrong people turn on you. Jeff IS SG without him and in the wrong hands I can only hope that is vision for SG can somehow be realized and continue. I doubt that very much. I look foward to Jeffs bright future and what postitve benefits we will gain by Jeffs imagination, foward thinking and integrity. Jeff ,I wish you well on your next exciting life experience. Thank you for all that you do. And Sheila, watch your back
Jessie86 picture
Everyone has been so disappointed by Jeffrey Hollender's departure and the possible 'sell out' of the brand. Has everyone somehow missed the more worrying news that Seventh Generation has been falsely advertising and GREENWASHING us?
MotherLodeBeth picture
When Clorox came out with their new 'green' line which was and is much cheaper to buy, I told friends and family that I was sticking with Seventh Generation, because they were first, and had never sold out. Now I have to eat those words. Why why why does every dang green company I have been with for years, end up selling out for $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$? Now I will seriously rethink buying SG items. Why reward a company for selling out?
nyITguy picture
I agree with those who comment on the need for a company to make money in order to continue doing what they do. I disagree, however, with the implicit sentiment that selling through WalMart is a logical extension of that argument. I happen to believe that WalMart is an evil conglomerate for whom a massive bottom line is the ultimate goal. They'll pave over the earth, exploit people, and demand changes in product, packaging, and pricing from suppliers (and get it), because in the end, they really only care about making money for themselves. Seventh Generation has choices, just as any other manufacturer does, and WalMart need not be one of them in order to succeed.
rusty7010 picture
There may be more behind this move than meets the eye. I hope that SG keeps their products as good as they are right now. I am a new user of the products and have been pleasantly surprised. I am a former Tide user....have used it for over 30 years. But the more I read about the environment, the more I became aware of the fact that I needed to make many changes. After changing alot of cleaning habits, I decided to try SG liquid laundry cleaner and fabric softener. It works admirably. So, SG, stay on the course you are on. Don't let down your guard as far as your vision...or Jeffrey's vision. I know quite a few folks, now, who have purchased their SG from Wal Mart. Who knew??
Dave82 picture
The link below is to a good article about the new relationship and I pulled one passage to remind us all that it was Jeffrey who put the company there! I know that FACTS can sometimes be difficult to reconcile with idealogy, but puhleeeze folks... "It's the most unlikely of alliances, considering that Seventh Generation's co-founder has said in the past that "hell would freeze over before Seventh Generation would ever do business with Walmart." But at the same time, the partnership has been a long time coming, Jeffrey Hollender explains to "They aren't the same company they were when I said what I said," Hollender concedes. "I'm the first one to admit that I was naive in thinking it was impossible for them to change.""
perzey picture
Will stop buying 7th gen cuz now I can't trust it anymore. Once you get Pepsico, walmart and the like involved it is not about clean and good and healthy and the new green anymore. It's all about The old green... The bottom line...coin. None of them care about what it happening the to environment or any one of us. Good Luck Jeef. Your vision was a good one. Your honesty refreshing for a change. Ellen P Rhode Island
Lavinia Weissman picture
Lavinia Weissman
There is a reality that is not spoken to here that has to do about price points and innovation. It is similar to some of the challenges in the biopharm market today. Pricepoints for new products is often higher. The LOHAS (lifestyle of the health and sustainable) for years had a price point higher than usual retail or discount chains. The market research of the 90's showed that people would go into Whole Foods and spend more on Muir Organic tomatoes before they would go to Walmart. Walmart sold the same product. It was presumed that the market of LOHAS folks would not go to WalMart. The economy has changed, and consumer profiles have changed. What people spend on anything now has change. If the expenditure is for a product that is new and not as easy to purchase, they will pay a high price point. Look at what happen to Apple. Apple is now something accessible to everyone. The other issue is health. The new generation of parents are wise and organic and green and select this way of life no matter their politics. They live within their means and not on credit. Hence Seventh Generation customer has changed, the market has changed and step by step practices and markets are emerging that are base purchase on education of ingredients more and less on who is the person behind the brand. I received an email about my post from Germany pointing out that I did an analysis that was not about CSR martyrdom. CSR is a buzz in journalism. In life it is a quiet practice that is not about personality. It is about finding a "new normal." Seventh Generation to stay viable and sustainable will have to find a "new normal." Lavinia Weissman @workecology on Twitter
SchonGirl1 picture
It seems some of us are forgetting about supply and demand. More and more people have been turning to environmentally friendly products in recent years. There are several factors for this, one being that they are simply better - we don't worry about our children getting sick from accidentally swallowing some of Seventh Generation's cleaning supplies, we can place Seventh Generation's paper towels in our compost piles... the reasons go on. When such products are in high demand, it is often necessary to bring in a leader for the company who has dealt with larger scale production. We have to be honest with ourselves, Seventh Generation is no longer a small, family-run business. We, the consumers, caused it to be such. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not! Perhaps we have some grudges against certain retailers who are contracting with Seventh Generation... these are well-founded. However, some people do not have the luxury of going to a grocery store that offers only organic products. Revolutions start small and gradually build... if we want change more quickly; if we want places like Wal-Mart to cease existing, we need to educate others by getting out into our communities; we need to be proactive and talk about the problems in our country, in our economy, in our lifestyles, etc. WE ARE THE CHANGE!!!
MommaBear13 picture
11/11/10 step up and make sure that the original tenets and core values of 7th Generation remain true. I will never assume that a company has my (or my family's) best interest in mind when producing and selling a product or service (I don't care who you are). I will keep an eye on 7th Generation's products, ingredients and business practices. NOW is the chance for management to rise to the occasion and prove they'll continue to earn consumers' respect and the dollar that is spent. I'm watching...but I'll also give the company a chance to prove itself in this turbulent time. Please don't let me down.
angihoy picture
I'm not sure what happened at 7th Generation, but I am thrilled to see so much activity here. I was beginning to think America was in a Jersey Shore induced coma. You guys must watch the "End of Liberty" video by the National Inflation Association on youtube. The things that our government has planned will blow your mind...especially to those who grow their own organic food. We let the wolves in to guard the chicken coop folks...just like here at 7th. You can't hire a radically different CEO and not expect the vision to change. Protect your freedoms, America! I know you think they are worth it...look at all your posts. Please watch the video, do your own homework, research Cass Sunstein and his agenda for you!
LadyMichigan picture
If (in my mind at least) a company chooses to afillate with a retailer like Wal-Mart it is for their bottom line and has nothing to do with eco-friendly. Wally World is one of the worlds parisites sending jobs overseas and buying and selling products that contain toxic substances. For 7th Generation to even consider them as an outlet warns me that the company is moving away from its' mission statement. Check any re-call list and then check wal-mart almost all items on the list will have been available at wal-mart and in some cases if you check the numbers are still available. Wally world shopping bags alone are clogging up the land fills, and if you bring your own cloth ones the check out person is very likely to say "is that really necessary, it takes me so much time to mess with those." (really I have had this said more than once) So 7th Generation from a PR point and eco point not a good move to tie up with Wally World
westmainmusic picture
i have to agree with the posts that applaud the company for making their products more accessible to everyone. i too rarely bought 7gen products due to the cost, and would opt for another "natural" brand. now that i can get these products at my grocery or local target, and often on sale, i am a frequent buyer. i will simply keep an eye on the integrity of the company and its products, and maintain hope that their mission will remain intact.
jviebach picture
Any company's goal has to be to make money. It has to be! If they don't, they go out of business and all the righteousness and benefits go out the window. If a company is losing money, it has to come from somewhere, out of someone's pockets. I don't know anyone who is a fountain of money, so that kind of thing can't last. So their products are being sold at Walmart. So what? I don't shop there, but now John Q. Redneck who won't shop anywhere else has a decent product available. Maybe this will start those late-adopters thinking about all the crap in their cleaning products. Hell, maybe this will get Walmart thinking about all the poisons they sell (hey, a girl can dream). Does all this change make me wary of what changes we might start to see in their products? You bet. But until I start to see changes, I'm going to assume it's business as usual at 7th Gen. and just wait and see.
sandrajoan picture
Really disappointed in you, Seventh Generation. Where are our heros? Where are caring companies we can trust and believe in? It become all about profit and greed. Shame on you.
Matt Walker picture
Matt Walker
Well, I have decided, because, you know, everyone has to make hard choices due to unforeseen and unanticipated expenditures to reduce redundancy and reorganize the core structure to build a solid core competency to minimize my exposure to such risks by eliminating seventh generation from the operating efficiency of my cash stores to better solidify my balance sheet.
paulaam picture
Whatever is going on is obviously not good since I haven't been able to find 7th generation products (like diapers and wipes) locally anymore. Thank goodness for Earth's Best diapers!
anniepoo picture
I agree with David Stober's comment. I live in an area where I did not have access to this brand or any other brand like it. It was not in my budget to buy on line and have products shipped to my house. I have started using Seventh Generation products because of Walmart and City Market. I was excited when these "big box" stores started carrying the products. I am sure there are many more people out there like me. Those that want to be proactive in reducing their carbon footprint but did not have the means to do it. Maybe the move to making these great products more accessible to more people isn't such a bad thing. I just hope they stay true to their core values and mission as well and continue to produce such great products.
PeterRoche picture
What is the ongoing commitment to the values and vision that Jeffrey embodied so completely now that he is no longer at the helm? What does it mean that the announcement did not come from Jeffrey himself – clearly not a willing handing over of the reigns to a new generation of leadership who will continue to live out the values that Jeffrey represented? Maybe this transition is an example of what Jeffrey would describe as Seventh Generation just doing things "less badly" than other companies. But doesn't seem like it from what we can tell so far. Best wishes Jeffrey.
halenalynn picture
I find the vagueness and lack of transparency regarding this matter a bit frightening though typical of a rapidly expanding company. Mr. Hollander has shown that the company he founded can be enviromentally sustainable and I worry whichever new bigwig is brought in will destroy all efforts made to keep the word and ideals of Seventh Generation alive. PepsiCo and the like are not the kind of companies I like to see associated with Seventh Generation, as they have proven to do drastic environmental harm.
DavidStober picture
To all of you crying 'sell-out', I'd say take your pick. Do you want 7Gen to grow and continue to offer their responsible products at even greater price parity, or are you comfortable paying 2x the cost of non-responsible products made in China? If it's the latter then absolutely don't buy 7Gen products, regardless of the reason why Mr. Hollender is no longer at the Company. Say whatever you want about Mr. Hollander's apparent dismissal, but the 'capitalistic greed' comments are just soft and short-sided. Losing money for 13 years is neither capitalistic nor sustainable. I would argue that not making radical changes over the past few years would have resulted in the company being forced to 'sell-out like Bert's and Tom's'. Seventh Gen is bigger than any one person - what I say is continue to support them for their great products but hold them to account with your checkbook if they ever veer away from their core values and mission.
spj picture
What a load of BS; you are not being the least BIT transparent! Exactly WHY did you fire him? Do you have the balls to answer that? No, I thought not. This reminds me of when Apple fired Steve Jobs -- again, one of its co-founders -- and let a former executive of Pepsi run the company. Those corporate whores nearly killed the company, and was only saved when it finally realized its mistake and brought him back. I bet the same thing happens to 7th Generation. Know that I will cease buying your products as soon as you think you can get away with cutting corners and start allowing animal testing. You may think that people don't care, but we do. Good luck when karma comes back to bite you in the ass.
Taylor Green picture
Taylor Green
7th Gen would be wise to include a statement from Hollender as part of the big change announcement. How about it? And also, a statement about keeping standards for the products would be nice, not just generalities.
RickieRiccardi picture
Just like Michael Pollan writes about the big industrial organic machine in his book "The Omnivore's Dilemma", it appears that seventh gen is moving to that model as well. I suppose it was inevitable since ultimately, any business' goal is to make profits.
zing picture
For those who don't know or remember Jeffrey did just the same to Seventh Generation's founder - Alan Newman. Hollander's revisionist history reads as though he created the idea & the company. NOT TRUE!! Alan Newman was the genius behind Seventh Generation. I think this might b a good thing for the company - only time will tell. If you think they make a good product, conduct ethical business & really care about the earth, I suggest you hang in & see what's next.
Dave82 picture
...that those of you who have already - or plan to - 'jump ship' are doing a huge disservice to the hard working women and men of 7th Gen by assuming the worst. Shame on you and the self-righteous pablum.
Dave82 picture
...EMFO and Lavinia for the reality check! Always nice to have informed comment.
ekampas picture
Now that 7th Generation is in turmoil, I have been looking elsewhere for trustworthy products. Green Cleaning Technologies out of Syracuse, NY has a fantastic, albeit small lineup of green products. They are a family run business and work with everyone from home products all the way to hospitals and large businesses. Definitely worth checking out!
frogeyes2 picture
Just like Burts Bees, when they sold to Clorox they started putting borox and unknown fragrances in their products. They, too, started selling to Walmart. I will start using Ecover or make my own.
Lavinia Weissman picture
Lavinia Weissman
Danielle Sacks from Fast Company ended her article by stating the umbilical cord had been cut. In my post, I posted the question, "Can Jeffrey Hollender be replaced?" When a congregation loses their "beloved rabbi or minister," it often calls for a time of uncomfortable grappling to move into a form of business that is beyond the 'age of the heretic or guru.' The real measure of CSR will be when it sustains without heroes and embeds as a matter of culture and impact for a sustainable economy. Is that possible? Lavinia Weissman @workecology on Twitter
EMFO picture
Jeffrey Hollender grew an amazing company and then, as is logical, responsible and appropriate for a big company's CEO, he hired his ultimate successor. Whether or not he was ready to go when he exited is something we might not get to know. But here's something to consider: Maybe Jeffrey wants to move on and do something different. Having worked with entrepreneurs most of my professional life I can attest to the fact that there's a certain exhaustion that can come from always growing, always risking. And there's also a point where the person who started the company says, "I don't know how to get this company to the next level...and if it gets there I don't know if I want to stay." Leadership transitions change companies and there are always people who want the company to remain what they know. I hope that Seventh Gen keeps its product integrity and that it's able to bring its prices down to be more competitive with the nasty products that pass as cleaning products thru this transition. To my mind bringing fabulous products into the mainstream as replacements for poisons in the waste stream (and our bodies) is the ultimate goal of Seventh Gen. Let's watch and hope that integrity remains, regardless of who's leading the charge.
daoine_o picture
this is all very disheartening. for now, i think i'll be spending my dollars on eco-friendly products i can trust from companies i can trust. i don't think i can trust 7th gen anymore. until the dust has settled and the direction of the company can be seen (thru true transparency), i'm lumping 7th gen in with that burt's bees, tom's, odwalla, naked, kashi, muir glen, back to nature, et al crowd; those whose strings are being pulled by large mostly-unethical companies, who hide their true ownership. i tend to avoid the brands owned by hain-celestial, as well. i'm just distrustful of large companies in general, i guess. with the large companies, too often, the bottom line is, well, the bottom line, and integrity be damned. i wish jeffrey hollender the best, and a happy future for him wherever he ends up.
MultiverseDancer picture
Very sad. I don't even know if I will be buying this product anymore. Seems like people just keep selling out. Look at Tom's of Maine and Burt's Bees. All sold out. I'm going to start making my own cleaning products and currently sewing my own cloth menstrual pads. I'm sure some of this has to do with them now being at WalMart
ckmotorka picture
So, now the former PepsiCo exec is left unchecked. Time will tell...
steinie picture
It's hard to know what's going on without hearing it straight from the horse's mouth, but the statement by 7th Generation was not provided by Jeffrey himself which should give anyone pause. For another perspective on this situation: Perhaps it's time for the entrepreneur to move on and fire up another movement. Let's just hope his inspiration and commitment to quality products continues on in 7th Generation.
avalondreamer picture
Too bad. Just like Toms of Maine, they sold out. No more Toms for me. There are many other, smaller, companies that sell recycled paper products. Looks like I'll be buying them from now on.
johnman picture
Just wondering, does this have anything to do with a certain big box retailer?
timothywbenson picture
I hope new managment remembers that more products in the hands of more consumers doesn't mean you forget those that got you there in the first place. Growth isn't always a good thing, especially when the plan calls for the removal of the man who gave you your job to start with. This is a real shame!
nyITguy picture
It's the classic business story. Build a company, bring in new management, and management ultimately pushses out the founder. Too bad.