How My Forward-Thinking Hygiene Solutions Company Is Thriving In COVID-19

Published: November 10th, 2020
Jonathan Bradford
The Hygiene Company
from Billericay, Essex, UK
started January 1992
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

My name is Jonathan Bradford and I grew up in a household with a father who built his own successful engineering business (my mother would have always said it was in fact always on the verge of bankruptcy fighting off the bailiffs).

In 1992, with the demise of our family business importing and distributing Windsurfing & Snow Skiing equipment, I was at a loss as to what to do.

Having always been keen to participate in a sport I joined a local Health & Fitness Club (Club Kingswood) played regular squash/racketball followed by a workout in the gym

Given I had just played 40 - 50 minutes of very demanding racketball I was generally pretty soaked. Embarrassed by the sweat and perspiration I was leaving on the gym kit I always like to try and ensure I wiped down the equipment with surface spray and paper towel after using each piece of equipment.

What soon became apparent is that I was chasing the disinfectant bottle around the gym not know where the last user had left it. Very much aware of where the paper towel could be found given it was wall mounted being offered via a dispenser I thought… Why don't they simply offer antibacterial wet wipes from a nice wall-mounted dispenser? This way there are no excuses for all members will know exactly where to find the disinfectant wipes.

As one that has always been very aware of the importance of CLEAN HANDS, I firmly believed from the outset that this concept had legs, in that if I could provide a nice looking dispenser that looked at home in all environments, hold a good number of antibacterial wipes at a reasonable cost, it had to add value to both the club, office or workspace, for it enhances the overall perception of cleanliness within the organization. It puts hand and surface wipes easily within reach of both staff and members leaving NO room for excuses - convenience improving compliance!


Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

The first step was to research the market and see what was available.

Running your own business can be lonely hard and very tough for you to take on all responsibility hardship and worries of the business on your own, but at the same time if successful you enjoy the rewards.

Much to my surprise, 99% of wipes product offered was via a tub or a bucket, which doesn’t really lend itself to being a nice looking piece of equipment within most organizations.

Step 1: I took a bucket to a famous sculptor and asked that he designed something to replace the bucket that would:

  • Look at home in all environments
  • Hold a good number of large antibacterial wipes
  • Wall or surface mounted unit
  • Keyless locking system


Describe the process of launching the business.

Over a period of nearly 10 years and very little money, I pursued in my belief that the concept was good, the problem was how do we produce the product at a market acceptable price for both manufacture and resell?

I had a clay mold from the sculptor - next, we needed to see how we could turn this into a manufactured product.

I went through fiberglass manufacturing with a local boat builder and as much as they felt the product look great it was a 6 part mold meaning it was time-consuming and expensive to produce - Nearly £90 per unit.

Vacuum forming with a company in the USA, which really wasn’t the process for this product

I had no choice, if I was going to do this, the right way forward had to be injection molding, a massively expensive procedure to get designs, drawing and tooling made but I was really at a point in my life where had to decide do I throw the towel in on is protect or bite the bullet and somehow hope I could fund going forward through my toiletry & necessities vending business (that is a story in its own right which once again stemmed from my time well spent at ‘Club Kingswood’).

I found a very good CAD designer who in turn did his magic on drawing up the design ready for tooling.

Tooling alone some 15 years ago was estimated at nearly £60K money I quite simply didn’t have but having gone this far, I quite simply couldn’t give up for I would have wasted all the time effort, and money spent to date.

Dragons Den was looking for candidates for series 2 and as a BIG fan (still am) I thought why not give it a go.

Back then it was filling in lots of forms, explaining your business market opportunities, etc. From which they in turn if they felt it would make GOOD VIEWING (not necessarily good business) would conduct a 1-hour telephone interview to see if you were worthy of the next stage rehearsal filing.

I was invited for rehearsal filming after which I guess they decided I wasn’t worthy of standing in front of the Dragons and presenting my idea, which to this day I'm really glad they didn’t let me, for I am sure they would have ripped me apart and knowing what I am like I wouldn’t have handled the criticism without a fight!

To this day I honestly don’t know how I funded the project, I was running a small one-man vending business which kept me out of trouble, focused on business but the dispenser project must have cost in the region of £100K to make happen.

I still watch Dragons Den and despair at some of the proposals whereby people have spent so much time, effort, and money on a project they feel they so believe in and will make them so much money you have to know when to say ENOUGH, this just isn’t going to work.

Tooling has arrived, I’ve found an injection molding company (another story herein that the boss turned out to be the godson of my parents - for which when meeting neither of us knew who the hell the other person was).

So jumping ahead to receiving my finished product - a Wet Wipes Dispenser, what do I do with it now? HELP it was just an idea, I’ve spent £100K to get here, and now it is time to see if the world is ready for it, the moment of truth.

First, let's get a good name for the product, well it started as The Hygiene Wipes Dispenser only for a business colleague to tell me that is too long-winded, and I agreed - So how do you find the right name?

I put it out to family and friends - £100 reward if you come up with a good name for this product, well some stupid rubbish names were being suggested, until my brothers best friend picked up the phone and said, exactly what is it Jonathan… its a wet wipes dispensers I replied, so it's a pod offering wipes he said, to which I replied yes and he blurted out WIPEPOD to which I knew instantly he was right. BINGO, WIPEPOD it is and we have never looked back.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Launch direct mail, email, and exhibitions.

Research heads of procurement.

My first step was to do direct mail targeting gyms for this is where the concept was conceived.

Follow up with telephone calls to get a feel for whether or not there is interest, try to get face to face meeting.

Luckily for me and I honestly believe every business needs a lucky break, Hilton Hotels recognized this as a product that would complement their gyms. To this day it is still a vital part of their gym equipment, for Hilton recognized very early on the importance and benefits of offering antibacterial hand and surface wipes conveniently placed to improve compliance to good hand and surface hygiene practice by all.

In the coming years, we exhibited and continue to exhibit at many exhibitions both in the UK & International. We supply both through distributors and direct, we have distributors in Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Mexico, etc.

We favor and still work hard to meet the buyer events, direct mail face to face meetings.

We put a lot of time and effort into website developments, are quite new to the likes of online sales but do see this as market opportunities that we need to work hard on going forward.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

How are we doing today?

My goodness, WHY does it take COVID-19 for people to realize the importance of clean hands and clean surfaces? After all, it was back in 1858 when Ignaz Semmelweis first really brought it to our attention.

The business has been built from personal experience and understanding of the importance of good hygiene practice - the problem is people are LAZY hence we have to make things as easy as possible, convenient and within arms reach, this way greater are the chances of increased numbers of people adhering to good hygiene practice.

Where are we now?

Well, the product has just rolled out in the Houses of Parliament, we supply many chains of health clubs offices, universities, schools, workplaces, etc.

We now have manufacturing in the UK, Europe, China, and Malaysia.

We supply worldwide - we also have an electronics side of the company which again is targeting compliance to good cleanliness and hygiene practice, washroom Hygiene Monitor, you’re bound to have seen these in motorway service stations, shopping centers, workplace, airports - and recently installed throughout both the billion-dollar US embassy in London and the last 6 weeks The Houses of Parliament!

Currently, as we speak, we are installing over 100 units of our new LIVE TIME washroom hygiene monitor through Norway's Oslo airport.

2020 has been a nightmare for many, although some have done extremely well from this unfortunate situation, the demands and expectations from our customers on us has been VERY demanding challenging and yes interesting, I have had many a restless sleepless night which in turn simply trying to meet customer expectations our sales are up by over 200%!

The success of any company is never down to just one person, it is the combined efforts of the team you build around you. I am far from being the best boss in the world or even a good boss, for this is a role you have to grow into daily, and in all honesty, it's not a role I ever put my hands up for or even really where I ever expected to be.

Quite simply we started with a product I truly believed in and went for it - luck has to play a part in it but we have all worked hard and built a successful business that continues to grow year on year.

My thanks go out to family, friends, and work colleagues who have all help and support the business over all the years (especially Suzanne - girlfriend) who believed in me and the business from very early on.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

You hear it said throughout your life, there's no better learning than experience, but experience takes time.

We all make mistakes, put this down to experience, go with what works, we have tried to remain focused on our core business and what we know best, it works for us.

I haven’t chased the ££’s I have focused on Innovation design and manufacture and kept our overheads to a minimum at all times. For me it was more a case of I want to WORK, I love my play but without work, I honestly don’t think I would enjoy my playtime.

We have small offices where we do design innovation and dispatch of custom branded orders, we have storage and distribution and we spend wisely.

Make the most of any government incentives, grants, etc. They are there to help although it can also be very time-consuming.

Running your own business can be lonely hard and very tough for you to take on all responsibility hardship and worries of the business on your own, but at the same time if successful you enjoy the rewards.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I have always looked at the following companies to see what makes them successful.

McDonald’s - eBay - Amazon - Costco - Apple, I try and learn from my experiences in shopping with them, customer service - product quality, value for money, information, product returns and warranty - they all offer 1 thing that stands out to me - CUSTOMER IS KING!

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I love a good book when on holiday to relax, for I love reading about others and their experiences and it takes me away from my work.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

Believe in what you are looking to do. Accept help and advice.

No, when to bail if it’s not working, move on, and put it down to experience.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We could be looking for new people to join our team, it all comes down to what can you offer, what can you bring to the table that we haven’t already got?

I’ve got a great team and very few ever leave once they join us - it is important to me that people enjoy being part of this team.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!