Cleaning Up its Act
Unable to clean up in its respective markets, the consumer product and travel service conglomerate once called Dial Corp (no period there) was forced to refocus its efforts. The more profitable, though less-storied travel services arm spun off from the consumer product operation. The newly named Viad took over the airline catering, convention, travel, and money order services while the consumer product company retained the Dial name. The new Dial is hoping that a smaller workforce and a trimmed-down line of about 1,000 products (down from 2,300) can keep the company afloat. Dial is banking hard on its flagship personal care products such as Dial, Breck, and Tone, its housewares, including Brillo scouring pads and Renuzit air freshener, and canned meats under the Armour Star label.
Dial actually began strictly as a meatpacking facility in the 1940s called Armour & Company. Armour developed the deodorant soap (called Dial because of its lasting power) and, with some skillful scratch-and-sniff marketing in the Chicago Tribune, endeared the soap to the public. In 1990, the company changed its name to Dial, to reflect the profitability of the soap. The recent restructuring has forced layoffs across the board.
Moving the Dial
In 1998 Dial announced it would be unleashing a new range of natural beauty products in the United Kingdom, as well as a Dial soap brand campaign in Europe. The company also plans to expand the Freeman range of natural beauty products, which includes such hygiene helpers as moisturisers, cleansers, and pore masks. 1998 also marks the year of Dial's acquisition of Sarah Michaels Inc., a Massachusetts-based bath and body care company. The take-over is worth a bubbly $91 million. Dial's rapid pace continues with the introduction of such new products as Dial Hand Sanitizer, Spring Water Dial bar soap and body wash, Renuzit AromaSense pillar candles, and Nature's Accents personal care products. With so many changes in the air, Dial says that it is staying focused on its four core franchises: Dial, Purex, Renuzit, and Armour Star. In May 2000 Dial further strengthened its position in the soap market with its acquisition of Procter & Gamble's Coast brand of soap. But all isn't always well at the core - the company is considering selling its Armour canned-meat unit, whose lagging results in 2000 have hurt the company's shares.
Through partnerships and acquisitions, the company has moved to establish itself as an international force. In April 1999 the company teamed up with Henkel KGaA of Dusseldorf, Germany, to develop a new line of midprice laundry detergents under the Purex brand name. Under the joint venture, Henkel will provide its laundry technology while Dial will provide manufacturing, distribution, marketing and sales, and the use of the Purex trademark. The joint venture moved quickly to acquire the Custom Cleaner home dry cleaning business of Creative Products Resource (August 1999) and later signed a deal to acquire an 80 percent stake in Mexico's Fabrica de Jabon Mariano Salgano, a detergents producer in April 2000. Dial further strengthened its position in Latin America in May 2000 with the acquisition of Revlon's Argentinian Plusbelle shampoo and conditioner line for $46.5 million.
Sexual harrassment stains
In May 1999 the Equal Opportunity Commission accused Dial of widespread sexual harrassment and announced it would set out to further investigate the workplace conditions. The following September, the company sent employees a letter saying, "You are under no obligation to speak to anyone from the EEOC unless you are subpoenaed to do so." The EEOC cried foul, claiming that the letter served to intimidate women who were thinking of stepping forward and filing complaints. A judge ruled in the EEOC's favor, and Dial was barred from contacting workers about the lawsuit for two weeks while the EEOC continued its investigation. The EEOC identified over 90 women (out of 400) as alleged victims of sexual harrassment in the company's Montgomery, IL factory.
Due to the company's recent restructuring, Dial is not bringing many new people aboard. Exceptions will be made for the right candidate. Resumes can be sent by fax or regular mail to the company's Phoenix or Scottsdale, AZ locations. All submissions should include a cover letter and will be kept on file for six months.
Employees have been "very concerned with all the changes." One glumly tells us: "I?ve watched co-workers and managers disappear." Most are "still proud to work at Dial" and like the "family-like atmosphere." There is, though "a lot of worrying going on." The dress code has been called "fairly lax, unless you're meeting with reps from other companies." The "pay is on the lower end for the industry." Many "upper level employees hope that our market standing improves quickly."
15501 N. Dial Blvd.1
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