Interview with Michael Lawrence, Sales Director of Cert

Home care cleaning sprays is one of the latest staple product categories to undergo a major ‘root & branch’ overhaul, with a number of new arrivals challenging the current conundrum associated with complete clean Vs wider sustainable goals. Find out how Michael Lawrence is helping to launch Cert, the most complete cleaner on the market.

What’s your career background?

My career background has primarily been in food and drink brands with a dairy leaning. From marketing leading milkshakes and tried and trusted British cheeses to North America’s favourite ‘inclusion-tastic’ super premium ice cream (rhymes with Pen and Terry’s).

What’s been your best lockdown lesson?

Homecare cleaning was a Lockdown winner with consumers suddenly reassessing a sector they’d taken for granted. When the pandemic first struck eighteen months ago ‘home cleaning’ grew a staggering 35% in the blink of an eye (extra 49m surface cleaner products were purchased in 2020) as homecare became a synonym for selfcare among frustrated, stuck-at-home commuters.

Trethowans
Trethowans

We learnt during lockdown that many families abandoned own label propositions for trusted branded heavyweights and that there was also a move away from what could be loosely termed eco-ethical brands for high strength (some might say over-engineered) old-guard brands that prioritise killing bacteria and viruses. 

The chasm between two compelling yet contrasting mindsets convinced us that Cert could carve out a third pathway.

How can Cert stand proud of the crowd?

Cert strives to carve out a positive, common sense pathway within homecare sprays. A one-stop, hospital-grade/anti-viral, multi-purpose spray that negates the need for vast sprawling ranges and which most importantly strikes the right balance of being tough on bacteria and viruses yet conscious of wider planet needs (less plastic, no water hoarding…). 

Cert isn’t professing to have cracked the enigma code of fully sustainable homecare cleaning (we’re a low strength, 2-in-1 chlorine based disinfectant and detergent (1/6th strength of traditional detergents) which works with tap water to create something very distinct and very effective. We are not alone with other amazing start-ups like Splosh, neat, Ocean Saver also creating amazing ripples in a very traditional product sector.’ 

What are the biggest obstacles in the marketplace?

Category apathy! I’d be the first to admit that surface cleaners isn’t the sexiest product category in town however that doesn’t mean it should it should twiddle its fingers and duck change. Sustainability and the planet’s health aren’t issues that are going away anytime soon and so I feel proud to be one of a number of well-meaning new category entrants seeking to bring about real change. 

What’s your proudest moment to date?

Deciding that from the outset our fledgling business will plough back 10% of our bottom-line profits into deserving water purification/disinfection projects around the world. Looking at latest UNICEF stats and one can see that the current global inequality around clean water is unacceptable

 If current trends persist, billions of children and families will be left without critical, life-saving WASH services, stating that even by 2030:

  • Only 81% of the world’s population will have access to safe drinking water at home, leaving 1.6 billion without;
  • Only 67 % will have safe sanitation services, leaving 2.8 billion without;
  • And only 78% will have basic handwashing facilities, leaving 1.9 billion without.

Who is your ideal customer?

A family or small business owner (hairdressers, nail salons, dentists, cafes..) who first and foremost prioritises the safety of its household/customers by providing an independently approved (UK Health Security Agency) product that kills 99.9% kills of all bacteria and enveloped viruses including Covid-19, Delta and Omicron yet is committed to supporting a planet-friendly agenda (no single-use plastic bottles, no trapping precious water in idle plastic bottles, no synthetic air polluting fragrances….)

What’s your advice for other entrepreneurs?

Irrespective of what sector you operate in there is always scope to agitate and bring about meaningful, ‘for-the-better’ change!  Whether we’re talking vegan frozen pizza bases, ketogenic cakes, trusted British cheeses, inclusion-heavy ice cream or surface cleaners its all too easy for incumbent category leaders to rest on their laurels.

Which brand do you admire?

Probably a little biased but it has to be Ben and Jerry’s. I was part of the small but dynamic Egham-based team that took on category incumbent Haagan Dazs and redefined the super-premium ice cream category, a success that ultimately resulted in Unilever taking this authentic disruptor under its wing. The two big lessons I learnt at Ben and Jerrys were:

  1. David can topple Goliath if you pick the right messaging and the right battlegrounds.
  2. Every business however big and small should embrace a small strand of severe social responsibility.

For Cert?

Hydrachem, Cert’s mother company is undergoing a significant revamp. It’s an unknown Sussex-based success story of a leading category voice in water disinfection and water purification that works alongside leading Third World charities, the NHS and respected healthcare institutions the world over – I work for a business that gives me so much personal pride that we’re making a real difference! 

Find out more about Cert.