Personal ownership and prestige; two successful outcomes of Elevation Labs’ collaborative approach to collective responsibility

There is no greater arena for collaboration than when a company’s position in the market sees it catering a personally designed product to its customers, which they in turn pass on to their customers – the end consumers. This is the case with Elevation Labs, a high-end creator of a multitude of different skin, hair and body care products. Originally established in Idaho Falls as Northwest Cosmetic Labs in 1995, the earlier, more humble days saw the company operating out of a small office with a team of five people. However by 2028, it aspires to be a $1 billion company.

Michael Hughes, President and CEO, provides a little more background to the company’s monumental growth: “From initially focusing on body-wash, the company extended its range into skincare and cosmetics, then proceeded to grow over the next 20 or so years, until it was acquired by ClearView Capital in 2014. This spurred a continued period of expansion, which saw the further acquisition of Colorado Quality Products and a change of name to Elevation Labs, ultimately culminating in the enterprise being bought out by Knox Lane private equity earlier this year.”

Strategic investment
Arguably, this history, laced with grand injections of finance, has played a significant role in the company’s development, but there’s a reason why so many have been keen to invest their time and capital in Elevation Labs. Knox Lane’s involvement will provide the opportunity for the company to elongate its reach across the USA, in a well-engineered effort to maintain customer relations. Michael details: “Our plan is to expand across North America to more locations, so that we can be closer to our clientele. We have large customer bases in areas such as New York and California, who generally like to swing by and visit in-person. They want to be able to drop in on the research and development process and to see their first batches being rolled out, which is great when you’re working in such a collaborative way. I have a vision that by 2028, when we’re aiming to hit $1 billion, we’ll be operating with between five and seven sites.”

To attract the business of its higher-end customers, Elevation Labs impresses a great deal of importance on providing them with the highest of quality in terms of both its production processes and the final outcomes. Being famed for its complex, organically focused, niche products, the company has won over 200 industry awards within the last four years. “We have an incredibly vigorous quality team in which we invest greatly, but we also promote a culture of ‘everybody owns quality,’” Michael expands. “For instance, at the start of every site communications meeting we raise and discuss every single customer complaint that the company has received. On average, we’re talking less than two percent of all sales and interactions. We use the platform to discuss what went wrong with every employee, and to figure out what we could do differently to avoid repeat incidents happening in the future. This ultimately instills a huge sense of ownership of quality throughout the whole organization.”

Well-funded, high-quality manufacturing is all well and good, but its effectiveness is undermined without the appropriate approach to customer service. “We have account managers who really do go above and beyond in helping the brands we partner with to solve supply-chain issues, deal with their production schedules and the general gathering of information. We always receive exemplary feedback in our customer surveys. One brand we worked with actually insisted on paying the salary of one of our managers for an entire year, based on how much of their time had been committed to their cause.”

A competitive edge
In addition to its exemplary customer service track record, in the age of the environment, Elevation Labs offers its clients the USP of being 100 percent powered by renewable energy and it has been since 2020. An element that attracts both customers and end consumers alike, the clean space that the company can offer prospective partners truly gives it an edge over the competition. The company employs a packaging engineer, who, at the helm of its own packaging-manufacturing line, produces a specific size and style of shipping container for each different product. Through this, it’s able to reduce the amount of material used with zero use of fillers. The business can also help customers design and pack their pallets to maximize lorry use and reduce wasted space.

At the heart of Elevation Labs, alongside its meticulous attention to product quality and customer service is the final and most crucial element – its people. In creating a sense of pride and personal ownership, the team naturally pulls together in wanting to help the hive succeed. This team spirit is accelerated by rewards and recognition programs, including a monthly initiative in which four to six employees are selected for exemplary performance and highlighted across meetings and socials. As Michael concludes: “What we have delivered over the last five years takes a village. It takes an amazing team, like ours, with a great culture of collaboration.”