Meet Our Makers Series: Ted
Meet Our Makers Series: Ted, Compounding Specialist & Tank Magician
Vantheth, or Ted as he likes to go by, has been with us for over a decade. He works in Compounding (where we make all the products), formulating and mixing our sanitizer, lotion, soap, and shampoo. I sat down to talk with Ted about his long history here at EO and the nuances of his work. This is our chat.
Brad: Ted, you and I started working together, how many years ago?
Ted: Yes, I started here in 2000 and left, and then I came back in 2003.
Brad: What’s been one of the biggest changes for you since you started?
Ted: In 2000, our growth was a straight line. Today, it’s like mountains. There has been a lot of change. Our capability is much greater than before.
Brad: We’ve learned an awful lot from you, Ted. We didn’t even know how to make lotions, really. Susan and I bought a business called HFI Labs in 2000, and that’s where we met you. You guys were making bar soap.
Ted: Yes, bar soap. We would make it and put it in molds overnight. In the morning, we pull it out and cut it into pieces. We made them with different ingredients like grapefruit, lemongrass, and orange. We’d wrap them each by hand and pack them into boxes. All day long.
Brad: Is it more complicated to make soap or lotion? Is it similar?
Ted: It’s only complicated for our baby wash. We use a new ingredient in our baby wash that we haven’t used before, a new coconut derivative that you have to mix in while it’s hot so it will melt.
Brad: There are a lot of tricks. I’ve heard that you know more manufacturing tricks than anyone else back there.
Ted: Yes, sometimes the R&D department will be able to tell me things in advance, but sometimes we don’t know until we start making something on a big scale.
Brad: All the ingredients we use have different personalities, right? They all have to be treated in a different way.
Ted: Yes, for example, the antioxidant and preservative ingredients that we use for our lotion, you can’t pour straight in, you have to add them in very slowly. You have to pour a little of one ingredient, then a little of another, and go very slowly. If you go too fast, it’ll ruin the whole batch and you can’t fix it.
There are differences with the machines too. Tank number 1 has a straight mixer and mixes better. It’s a new tank that can heat up to 80°C and cools very fast. Our old tank only goes to 70°C and it takes longer to cool down.
Brad: We refrigerate the water to cool it down to run it through that machine. What product are you making today?
Ted: Right now, I’m on tank seven, the sanitizer tank. We have a new guy in Compounding who was only doing soap before, now we’re training him to do everything in all the tanks so we have to rotate around.
Brad: Do you like making sanitizer?
Ted: Yeah, it’s fine. It’s easy.
Brad: Easy for you because you’re the pro. How many sanitizer batches do you make in a normal day?
Ted: If it’s spray, I can do three batches a day. If it’s gel, I can make two, because we have to cool each batch overnight.
Brad: How many kilos is each batch?
Ted: 950 kilos. So, about 16,000 bottles of sanitizer spray.
Brad: You just took some time off and got married. Now you and Sambath both work here. Did you meet here in the United States?
Ted: No, we met in my country (Cambodia) in 2008. Eventually she moved out here and we got married.
Brad: Congratulations! She’s a pleasure to work with too. She’s so kind.
Do you have a favorite product you like to use?
Ted: Yeah, every day I use the Everyone Lavender lotion and soap. It’s so soft when you’re washing your hands. I like the shower gel too, I use it as bubble bath.
Brad: Well, thank you Ted. We have a deep, long relationship and Susan and I both really care for you.
Ted: Thank you, I love to work with you. When are you going to put in a new tank? Next year?
Brad: Yeah. We’re making advancements. We’ve come a long way from 2000.
Ted: Remember the old way? We had a three story tower that we had to climb up to pour big quantities in. We used to heat up the waxes on the top level and then it would pour into the second level. We had to do some mixing in the shipping area.
Brad: Those were the good days, huh?
First job: When I first came to the US in 1990, my first job was as a dry cleaner.
Favorite beverage: At home, I like white wine. Red wine sometimes.
Music: I don’t mind whatever they have playing in Compounding. Usually they play classic rock, but Carlos loves hard rock. My favorites are Van Halen, Metallica, and Bon Jovi.
Days off: I like working out.