We’re proud to be different by making honestly formulated and truly effective personal care products, sourced and manufactured right here in the U.S.
Chances are you’ve never heard of Sam’s Natural, but its story and brand are worth knowing. Begun by a creative and enterprising husband and wife in 2011 with a single exceptional natural hand care product, Sam’s has grown tremendously under the leadership of Michael Ayles and his business partner Hank DeWolf. Their story is one of old-fashioned Yankee spirit, ingenuity, and plain hard work that has built those strong early roots into a multi-million-dollar company in just a few years.
It was early 2016. Having sold Hank’s successful specialty chemical company, Michael and Hank were searching for a new business opportunity but not just something that looked good on paper. After having invested over 30 years into their respective careers, they were looking for something special. It had to be a company that was producing an innovative consumer product they believed in, one that would give them the opportunity to make their own mark while having some fun along the way. As Michael puts it, “When I was a CPA years ago, I felt I was scorekeeping for people who were actually doing things. We wanted to build something meaningful and were interested in a branded consumer product that people would use and enjoy.”
It wasn’t easy. They looked at many small businesses in the New England area that were seeking buyers, but none were the right fit. That all changed with what is now Sam’s Natural.
“On our first visit, Hank and I immediately saw a very small company with some innovative products and a significant amount of potential in the natural personal care category. We also saw a company which appeared to place a very high priority on doing things the right way with a talented and dedicated staff.”
The Atkinson, NH location in southern NH was another plus. Michael currently lives in the Boston area, but he has strong New Hampshire roots. “I have lots of family in Hampton Falls and Exeter. I love that area and used to spend every summer in Hampton Falls growing up.” His ties to NH made the thought of building a business there even more attractive and offered the real possibility of permanently relocating to the state.
The fit seemed to be tailor made. With Michael’s background as a CFO and Hank’s deep knowledge of specialty ingredients for the personal care industry (their past customers had included companies like Estee Lauder, L’Oréal, and Colgate Palmolive), the two partners felt they had the perfect background to build the New Hampshire company through their business experience and financial resources. “With our background, we recognize many “niche” brands are actually developed by large companies to appear distinctive and make questionable claims about “natural” ingredients. The prospect of making honestly formulated and effective personal care products, sourced and manufactured right here in the U.S. just felt right. We recognized it was a very small business, but everything had been done very well – processes, systems, excellent products with a heavy emphasis on quality control. We felt it could be easily scaled.”
And, they were right.
Building on the success of their original products, the two partners carefully strengthened the company’s branding by updating the website, marketing materials and digital advertising to reflect Sam’s casual style and high quality products. While emphasis was placed on their highly regarded natural deodorant, product and packaging innovations were also made to their popular cold process soaps and 100% soy candle lines while remaining true to the brand. The business quickly and steadily grew with Sam’s products sold on their own website and on Amazon.
Judging from their thousands of positive reviews, customers love the products, especially appreciating that Sam’s is natural, vegan, cruelty-free and works. It helps that Michael and his team take pride in the smallest details. “We are buttoned up for a company of our size. We do what we do very well. And it’s not only the processes; when the product goes out the door, it is pristine and perfectly packaged.”
Another major milestone was reached in 2017 when the company began a successful private label manufacturing relationship with a national retail brand interested in offering an innovative line of men’s personal care products. The original 5,000 sf manufacturing facility doubled its square footage in 2017, adding another 5,000 sf by mid-2019. It’s a space Michael is justifiably proud of. “We transformed dirty warehouse space into a bright, clean, manufacturing facility that looks and functions as a food-grade quality environment.” With the growth of their manufacturing capacity, Michael and Hank have painstakingly built a team of dedicated workers by “treating them right,” with a supportive work environment, strong pay and benefits.
Even with all the growth they’ve already enjoyed, Sam’s story is just getting started. Michael, Hank and the team are looking forward to a long future of making their vegan and cruelty-free products in their Atkinson, NH location to supply an ever-growing customer base around the world.