SCHENECTADY — RAD Soap Co. is growing once again, this time by announcing a partnership with Pine Ridge Industries, a division of Schenectady ARC.
“It’s really a perfect marriage between our companies because we are able to give back to the community while keeping all of our production local,” Sue Kerber, founder of RAD Soap, said. “I am so confident that this was the right move for us and I look forward to watching us grow in 2021.”
The move to Pine Ridge is multifaceted; while RAD Soap is keeping its packaging and shipping services in the local community, Pine Ridge gives back by employing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Pine Ridge COO Nathan Mandsager said the work Pine Ridge does, which involves “tedious, detailed” services like producing packaging and packaging shipments, is ideal for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities because the rhythmic aspect of production is critical for their success in life and in the workplace.
“Our people really thrive in these types of roles and it gives them a sense of pride, both in the way they are contributing to society and through the paycheck they earn with their work,” Mandsager said. “Plus, services like ours really help small businesses maximize output and reduce costs, so it’s a great match.”
RAD Soap Co., located in Stuyvesant Plaza, was started in 2009 by Kerber. After a financial crisis in the family, she turned her passion for soap (and her ability to make the best bar she knew) to start her company. The store boasts a lineup of face and body soaps, creams, natural insect repellants, exfoliators and more; all products are produced in Albany. In 2014, RAD Soap landed a contract at Whole Foods and the business grew. Since the business’ conception, the brand has been featured in Nylon Magazine, BuzzFeed and Bustle.
Kerber and Mandsager first met at a virtual networking event by FuzeHub. The week after the networking event, Mandsager and the Kerbers sat down and talked in depth about what both companies were looking for. As Kerber and her son and co-founder, Zak, conversed with Mandsager, they realized Pine Ridge and RAD Soap would make a wonderful team, especially since RAD Soap was looking to broaden its market to reach more customers nationwide. Zak Kerber said RAD Soap has been in all 50 states and he looks forward to continuing the growth process.
Both companies have put hats on to combat the COVID-19 pandemic; RAD Soap brought hand sanitizers into the lineup and Pine Ridge has a significant contract with a company that helps produce COVID-19 tests. As business continues to grow for RAD Soap, Kerber has been happy to see her children, including her other son and co-founder, Max, really step up to the task.
“Our community supports us so much and really wants us to succeed,” Kerber said. “The camaraderie that’s been displayed during this tough time has been absolutely incredible. Because we are all able to recognize and work with our own strengths, we are able to bring forth a strong business model.”
Despite the partnership with Pine Ridge and the outsourcing of some tedious parts of the game, Zak Kerber said the mission for RAD Soap will stay the same.
“We want to provide high-quality products to as many customers as possible and watch our business get even bigger,” he concluded. “We want to be transparent and open with other businesses about our journey and show our customers who they’re buying from.”