Menendez Showcases ECOS, NJ Business that Proves Protecting the Environment, Supporting Employees is Good for the Bottom Line

Menendez Showcases ECOS, NJ Business that Proves Protecting the Environment, Supporting Employees is Good for the Bottom Line


PARSIPPANY, N.J. –U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today visited the headquarters of Earth Friendly Products (ECOS) which manufactures environmentally safe cleaning products, showcasing the Parsippany-based family-owned company’s long-standing and successful commitment to both environmentally friendly policies and strong labor standards.

“The truth is if more of America’s biggest corporations embraced the values championed by ECOS, we would have a safer planet, more good-paying jobs, and a more prosperous, sustainable economy for all Americans,” said Senator Menendez. “So when I hear Big Oil lobbyists say that environmental standards are bad for business,  I’m going to tell them about ECOS - green manufacturer here in New Jersey that exports products to customers in 60 countries and wears the EPA’s highest designations as a badge of honor. And when I hear my colleagues in Congress say that big corporations can’t afford a higher minimum wage – I’m going to tell them about ECOS – a company that proves that paying your workers a living wage is good for the bottom line. And when I hear the President say that immigrants are a drag on America’s economy, I’m going to point to ECOS – a company that began because a hardworking immigrant was willing to dream big.”

Founded in 1967 by a Greek immigrant, ECOS manufactures over 200 cleaning products at four facilities that are carbon neutral, water neutral, and Platinum Zero Waste certified. Their products have been given the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Safer Choice” designation, which helps consumers identify effective products with safer chemicals. Founded in 1967,  ECOS is a family-owned and run business started by Van Vlahakis, a Greek immigrant. The company also has a strong commitment to its workers, and in 2014 began paying their employees a $17 per hour minimum wage.

Senator Menendez has long championed environmentally friendly policies, fighting to level the playing field for clean technology in the U.S. tax code, and introducing the “America Star” bill – similar to the Energy Star program - to recognize companies that truly invest in their people.

Senator Menendez met with the company CEO, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, in his Washington, D.C. office in March.

Senator Menendez (right) with ECOS CEO Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks (center), meets Victor Bonilla, an ECOS employee for the past 30 years.
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The Senator’s full remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Today, we celebrate 50 years of growth, innovation, and job creation by Earth Friendly Products.  Let me first congratulate President and CEO Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks and the entire ECOS team on this major milestone.  Kelly, your father, the founder of this company, would be so proud of you today.  Because this company’s story makes me proud too.  Not just as New Jersey’s Senior Senator, or as the son of immigrants, but as an American.

“The story of ECOS is the quintessential American success story. And that story starts, as many do, with an immigrant who came here with nothing more than big dreams.  Before Van Vlahakis built a globally-successful enterprise he was a young immigrant from Greece who came to America with just $22 in his pocket. He may have been poor – but he was rich in courage and determination.  He had something that generations of immigrants have brought to our shores – a can-do spirit that breathes new life into our economy and ultimately benefits us all. 

“He worked his way through college, spending his days as a student of chemistry.  But he found himself working with chemicals in the evenings, too – at a night job in the cleaning products industry.  It was there that he first felt the sting of harsh cleaning chemicals.  And it was there that he recalled the fresh olive oil, vinegar, and other natural ingredients his mother used to clean their home in Greece. 

“So in 1967, he started Earth Friendly Products. And what began as a passion project in his garage is a now an industry leader that sells sustainable cleaning supplies in over 60 markets worldwide.

“Yet Earth Friendly Products is more than just a profitable business—they’re a company that proves you can do well and do good at the same time.  Last year, they achieved a triple threat in sustainability: carbon neutrality, water neutrality, and waste neutrality.  But just because this company embraces higher standards doesn’t mean they charge higher prices. Their affordable ECOS products earn the loyalty of customers worldwide.

“And the loyalty of their employees shows us that companies who treat their workers right reap the benefits.  ECOS employs hundreds of workers – and pays them a starting minimum wage of $17 an hour.  That’s ten dollars higher than our federal minimum wage – which hasn’t been raised since 2009.  Meanwhile, ECOS employees have access to health care, paid leave, and incentives for everything from buying fuel-efficient vehicles to moving closer to work.

“I’m proud to add my voice to the chorus supporting this American success story.  And I will never stop fighting for innovations that move America towards a clean energy future.  In the Senate, I’ve fought to level the playing field for clean, green technology in the U.S. tax code, and introduced “America Star” legislation – similar to the Energy Star program – to recognize companies that invest in their people.

“Because the truth is – if more of America’s biggest corporations embraced the values championed by ECOS we would have a safer planet, more good-paying job and a more prosperous, sustainable economy for all Americans.

“So when I hear Big Oil lobbyists say that environmental standards are bad for business I’m going to tell them about ECOS – a manufacturer here in New Jersey that exports green products to over 60 countries and wears the EPA’s highest designations as a badge of honor.  And when I hear my colleagues in Congress say that big corporations can’t afford to pay a higher minimum wage I’m going to tell them about ECOS – a company who proves that paying workers a living wage is good for the bottom line.  And when I hear the President say that immigrants are a drag on America’s economy I’m going to point to ECOS – a booming business that began because a hardworking immigrant was willing to dream big. 

“Too often, the American people are told by big corporations that we can’t afford to go green, or reduce carbon emissions, or treat employees fairly.   But it’s a lie.  And if anyone needs proof, I’ll tell them to look to Parsippany, New Jersey.  To look to a company that embodies the best of American ideals.  To look to a company that shows us that what’s good for the environment and what’s good for workers is also good for business.

“Congratulations to Earth Friendly Products on your 50th anniversary.  Your success is well-deserved – and I’m confident that your best days are still ahead.”

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