CINCINNATI -- Dale Ting didn’t just start a company after leaving Procter & Gamble.
He started two.
“I’d love to be a serial entrepreneur,” said Ting, 35, an Oakley resident who left his engineering job at P&G in February, 2011. Since then, the Wisconsin native launched Power Pro Cleaners, which sells a bathroom cleaning product that cuts through soap scum. He also started Tremore Breeze, which makes a premium back-yard barbeque smoker.
Ting is one of at least three dozen former P&G employees who started companies since 2011, when internal discussions about began about job reductions inside the Ivory empire.
Those employees turned entrepreneurs can be found in a searchable database that WCPO Digital obtained from the Cincinnati chapter of the P&G Alumni Network. Members agreed to participate in the public directory to make it easier to find each other and connect with new customers and business partners.
The database includes more than 150 companies, 24 of which were formed in 2012, the year in which P&G’s restructuring ramped up to a $10 billion cost-cutting program. Thirteen new companies launched in 2013, according to the database.
This entrepreneurial surge is an unintended consequence of a global restructuring that eliminated more than 6,400 non-manufacturing jobs. P&G says its local employment remains at roughly 12,000 but it’s likely that more than 1,000 Cincinnati-based executives have left the company in the last two years.
Ironically, this spike in new-business creation comes at a time when P&G is helping to fund a $51 million initiative to make Cincinnati a friendlier place for new startups. The Cintrifuse initiative includes a fund of funds that will invest in venture capital firms from other cities. The goal is to get those firms to consider local companies for new investments. Cintrifuse also provides training and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, linking new companies to startup efforts like the Brandery, Cincy Tech and UpTech in Northern Kentucky.
Some of the companies in the alumni database are using those resources. Others are not, said Stuart Schaefer, chairman of the board for P&G Alumni Network Cincinnati since 2011. Still, the P&G –spawned startups have some unique advantages that other small-business owners lack.
“They’re well-trained and broadly trained,” Schaefer said. “They come out of Procter with a lot of experience and more importantly a lot of confidence.”
Schaefer wasn’t aware there was a spike in entrepreneurial activity after P&G’s restructuring but he also wasn’t surprised.
“A lot of folks who are early retiring had entrepreneurial instincts the whole time and they’re just ready to act on it,” he said.
WCPO Digital has featured other P&G alumni who started companies but are not the database. Their companies include the pet food company, Petbrosia and My Artisano Foods, a retail shop that features Latin American cheeses. Another company, 3DLT, aims to become a global distributor of printing template for 3-D printers.
Schaefer started the P&G alumni database by inviting members to supply information on their companies in a directory accessible on the group’s Facebook page. He knows it isn’t a complete list, although he plans to update it over time to make it as complete as possible.
Schaefer is also an entrepreneur. He left P&G after 16 years in 2008, starting Green Up Street LLC in 2009.
The company makes cereal boxes and other packaging out of agricultural waste, including sugar cane bagasse and banana stems. After three years of product development, Schaefer is close to landing some big national contracts. He is convinced it can be a $100 million company in five years.
“Our production today is all off shore,” Schaefer said. “In five years, I would like to have production in the U.S.”
Ting has similarly high hopes for Tremore Breeze, which has a patented design for a barbeque smoker that was developed by his former P&G mentor, Nathan Moore, who is still a P&G engineer.
The product is deliberately priced above the highest-priced grills in the market because it is designed to make barbeque smoking an easier, cleaner and more pleasant experience than existing products. Coal and wood are loaded into a separate chamber. As they burn, ashes drip to a waste pan below. The four-rack cooking chamber has a venting system that acts like a convection oven, which guarantees uniform heating and slow-cooking perfection.
“If we can sell to everybody in the U.S. that has a Viking grill in their back yard, we could sell thousands, maybe 10,000 a year,” he said. The product sells for $5,500 on the company’s web site.
Ting’s other company, Power Pro, uses a formula that Ting developed himself. It is similar to a formula once used by Top Job, a cleaning product that was pulled off the market by a company Ting advises as a consultant. He has sold 150 gallons of the product to commercial cleaning companies so far. It sells for $34.99 per gallon.
He is working to rebrand the cleaning product for distribution in retail stores and thinks the company could become a multi-million dollar brand. At that point, he’d look to sell the brand to another company, then work on another startup.
Ting has an MBA from Xavier University, his tuition paid by P&G. Although he began his P&G career in research and development and spent most of his time in engineering, he learned plenty from P&G marketing professionals and supply chain managers. Those lessons are key to his business strategies today.
“I have a lot of autonomy,” Ting said. “I can work weekends and be happy to do it. I can create strategy that would have taken P&G a year to implement and I can do it in a day. I took a pay cut. But the nice thing about Cincinnati is the cost of living is low enough (so) the financials haven’t hurt yet.”
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