That smiling scrubber continues to clean up.
With nearly seven million happy-faced pads sold since its national debut in 2012, Scrub Daddy is now the most successful product in the five-year history of Shark Tank, ABC-TV's competition show for entrepreneurs.
On QVC alone, more than 2.5 million Scrub Daddys have sold since April 2012. You can find them at Bed Bath & Beyond and Walmart, as well as in supermarkets.
But consumers told the daddy of Scrub Daddy, Voorhees inventor Aaron Krause, that they want more. Besides a $3.99 cleaning aid that turns hard in cold water and soft in hot, and never scratches surfaces or becomes smelly, they said, they wanted something absorbent.
"This is our answer," the hyper-energetic Krause said last week as he unveiled Sponge Daddy at his company's new headquarters and packaging facility in Folcroft, Delaware County.
He slipped into pitchman mode, a skill honed on his twice-weekly QVC appearances to promote Scrub Daddy:
"This has got to be the greatest sponge you'll use in your life," Krause asserted as he wiped up a puddle of water from a conference table. "We're thinking this is possibly even bigger than Scrub Daddy itself."
Expected on the market by fall as a four-pack for $3.99, Sponge Daddy consists of a proprietary super-absorbent foam that turns velvety smooth when wet and a thin layer of Scrub Daddy material, a secret formula of engineered polymer.
Thus continues the incredible run of a company started by an entrepreneur seemingly never out of ideas.
Lemon-scented Scrub Daddys launched in February, selling out multiple times on QVC, which has the exclusive rights to sell them until August, said Krause, the company's president and CEO.
Scrub Daddy Heavy Duty - a 3-by-3-by-5-inch block designed to clean grills or scrape bugs and sap off cars - also did well earlier this year, with 15,000 sets of five selling out in eight minutes on QVC, Krause said, with 3,000 more on back order. It's headed for major home-improvement stores and janitorial-supply companies.
Next month, QVC will debut Scrub Daddys in three more colors: orange, green, and blue. Yellow has been the standard.
Customers wanted a way to tell their Scrub Daddy pads apart, Krause said: bathroom use vs. kitchen; containers exposed to gluten and not; kosher and not. QVC has requested 152,000 packs of 10, to be offered July 30 (at a discounted price not yet disclosed) as a Today's Special Value product.
"Our customers are always on the lookout for products that are not only unique but offer practical solutions to everyday problems," said Rich Yoegel, QVC's director of merchandising. "Scrub Daddy is a great example of what can happen when those factors are combined."
Describing Krause, 44, the father of 8-year-old twins, as "one of the hardest-working people I know," Shark Tank's Lori Greiner, an inventor and infomercial wizard who is now a minority investor in Scrub Daddy, last week predicted a doubling or tripling of sales in the next year.
"When people have to throw away a sponge every three months, sales are limitless," she said.
Unlike the last time I wrote about Scrub Daddy, in July 2013, I have good news on the manufacturing front. Though the special material exclusive to Scrub Daddy will continue to be made by a company in Germany whose identity Krause won't disclose for competitive reasons, the cutting of the smiley faces from large blocks of polymer returned to the United States in April, to a plant in South Carolina with ties to the German supplier.
Krause had moved that work to Germany last year after realizing he was paying to ship product across the Atlantic, only to have some of it end up as scrap.
Returning the work to the U.S. does not increase costs, Krause said, partly because the German company will retain any cutting work for Europe and Asia Scrub Daddy markets. He had a successful appearance on QVC in London in May and returns in August. He has already had QVC appearances in Taiwan and Canada.
Orders from North and South America will be packaged at the new Folcroft plant, which Krause bought and moved the company into in April from smaller, shared, rented quarters nearby.
Thirty-five employees staff two shifts. Krause envisions a workforce of 100, even as he adds more automation.
Meanwhile, another idea takes shape. "My next invention is the coolest thing you've ever seen in your life," Krause said.
Then he showed it to me. Stay tuned.