The state’s largest manufacturer of natural and organic soap plans to grow its workforce next year, adding several positions to expand the company’s customer base and increase its product line to meet current demand.
To get there, Botanie Soap Inc. of Missoula has applied for another round of Big Sky Trust Fund grants to help support next year’s plans for growth. The grant applications are due next month.
“We’ve had a very successful year,” said Jason Kiely, the company’s vice president of operations. “Sales are up significantly. The staff has grown in number and quality. We’re hoping to build on that in this next year.”
In 2020, while many businesses struggled with the impacts of the pandemic, Botanie Soap managed to grow. It expanded its staff from 12 to 20 employees, with six of those jobs assisted by the Big Sky Trust Fund.
Under the parameters of a grant from the Montana Department of Commerce, the jobs must pay at or above $14.45 per hour in Missoula County. The newly added positions included a vice president of technology, a director of operations and a production manager.
“They were really nice jobs,” said Kiely. “We’re at that point in the company where we’re able to help people grow their careers and not just have a job. The grant has been helpful with that.”
With help from Missoula County and the Missoula Economic Partnership, Botanie also moved from its former home on Palmer Street into a larger facility in Bonner. The new location offers three times the floor space, and an equipment grant help them purchase a forklift.
The company manufactures certified organic soap, and packages and ships it from the new facility.
“We’re hoping to build on that growth in this next year and hire an account manager,” said Kiely. “There’s more customers, more accounts to manage. We’ll hire a fulfillment manager next year and a couple of associates. All told, we’re putting in for five jobs and a companion training grant as well.”
Along with its lineup of soap products, the company also sells soap making supplies. Kiely said Botanie plans to introduce a line of hand sanitizer next year as well.
“They’re buying so much soap we’re just now working on our hand sanitizer,” he said. “We’ve been so busy with our core business that we’re just now getting that companion line going, thinking of our customers and what they want.”