Kettle Care Organics’ body care products have been staples for many Flathead residents for more than three decades, with all-natural formulas and homemade herbal extracts.
Now under new ownership, the company is setting down different roots, moving the facility from its location north of Whitefish on Farm to Market Road to a more accessible building on U.S. Highway 93 just north of Kalispell.
“For us, this was a big milestone to get it in its own building,” Annegret Pfeifer, president of Kettle Care, said. “This is the first time in the history of the company that we have a retail store.”
Annegret and her husband Klaus Pfeifer, owner and vice president, bought the company in October 2012, and bought the current building the following April. After about nine months of renovations, completely gutting the building and redoing it in their own tasteful, modern industrial style,
the Kettle Care retail store is open.
The couple has kept the Kettle Care products that have been so popular in its 31 years as a company, but they have planned the new building and their manufacturing processes in such a way to account for considerable growth in the future.
For example, when they took over the company, there was a period of four or five months when they dedicated their time to recording and organizing all the recipes, ingredients and processes set in place by the founder and previous owner, Lynn Wallingford.
And by completely redoing the inside of their current building, they could create a system that would efficiently and effectively work for their business. There are two sets of air handling systems, one for the lab and one for the rest of the building, and multiple levels of air filtration to keep the air fresh and clean.
No solvent-based paints were used for the building, and it is environmentally friendly with a high-efficiency furnace and water heater. Metal garage doors in the rear of the building were replaced with doors made of windows to allow for natural lighting for employees, and the whole space feels industrial while cozy.
The lab itself is an organizer’s paradise, with labeled cupboards, plenty of equipment to maintain the integrity of the products, and new processes, such as special environmental testing containers that put the products under considerable heat or cold to see how they hold up.
It’s all to ensure Kettle Care remains a quality, all-natural product, Klaus said, because it can be a challenge to keep all of the recipes stable without the help of industrial chemicals.
When the Pfeifers moved to the Flathead about seven years ago, they didn’t know they would be taking over a body-products company.
Klaus worked in the semiconductor industry, and they moved here from Austin, Texas, for him to work in executive management at Applied Materials and Semitool. Both are from Germany, and Annegret said it is normal for Germans to make their own lotions and products.
She couldn’t use products off American shelves, so she kept importing German ingredients while she was in the United States. That stopped, however, when she discovered Kettle Care.
“I liked their products, and I stopped making my own,” she said. “I like the purity of the product.”
Annegret was a banker by trade in Germany, and while in Texas earned her economics degree and a graduate degree in accounting, and is a CPA. With Klaus’ expertise in quality control, chemistry and physics and Annegret on the business side, running Kettle Care is a new way for them to use their skills.
They use as many local products as possible in their herbal extracts, which they make themselves, and anything imported is all natural and organic. Along with the original recipes, the Pfeifers are experimenting with their own concoctions, finding successes in new body butters and lip moisturizers.
Having the retail store makes it easier to get in touch with their customers, Klaus said, since most of Kettle Care’s business before was through wholesale, retail and online.
“You talk to your customers and you see what’s working and what’s not working,” Klaus said.
As spring continues, the couple plans on putting an herb garden in the front of the store to give people an idea about what is in their products, though these herbs won’t be used due to their proximity to the highway.
In the back of the building, there will be an employee vegetable and herb garden.
With seven employees and plans to continue grow, the Pfeifers hope Kettle Care continues its role as a must-have for current customers, and a new discovery for those who wander into the retail store.
“This is the face of the company,” Annegret said.
For more information on Kettle Care Organics, visit www.kettlecare.com. The retail store is located at 3575 U.S. Highway 93 North.
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