BY CARRIE BRENNER
Donald Kassebaum Sr. and his wife, Barbara, found- ed Cosmos Corp. in 1980.
Their four sons now lead the
Wentzville, Mo.-based company, which started manufacturing TropiClean products in 1992.
Pet Product News: TropiClean started
with natural grooming products. How
common were natural grooming products
in the early 1990s? Were pet owners very
interested in natural grooming products
at the time?
DERRIK KASSEBAUM, vice president
of sales: When TropiClean was
launched in the pet industry,
natural products were on the
cutting edge. There had been a
couple of other companies that
had approached the natural category; however, they were very
sterile product lines. Groomers
at the time were looking for alternatives to the chemicals that had
been used in products for years.
TropiClean was one of the
first companies to launch one
of the first natural ;ea products.
One of the big requests of the
time was for a natural flea and
tick product. When we launched
the Neem Flea Shampoo in 1994,
there was much skepticism if a
natural product actually could
work. The TropiClean Neem
Shampoo helped innovate this
PPN: Since TropiClean started 25 years
ago, the natural pet products category
has grown in leaps and bounds. What
makes your products continue to stand
DERRIK: Many companies have
tried to approach the natural
category. However, I believe the
three main reasons we have succeeded in this category are the
botanical fragrances that are in
the products, the tropical ingredients and that the product actually
performs as claimed. Other companies have tried to duplicate
these products, but TropiClean
has continued to outperform
these products and outlast other
PPN: In addition to grooming supplies,
TropiClean has grown to include oral
health products with its Fresh Breath
line, supplements with Life by TropiClean,
Fresh Breeze home-cleaning solutions,
and an entire natural flea and tick line.
How did the company decide which cate-
gories to branch out into?
DARIN KASSEBAUM, vice president of
marketing and innovation: We paid
attention to the needs of pet parents and their pets. For each category we pursued, we wanted to
provide excellent-quality products that are safe for pets and
Our shampoo and grooming category was what started
TropiClean, and we made sure
that all of our formulas contained only safe, natural ingredients. In fact, we were the first
company to truly push the “
natural” trend with our shampoos
and grooming solutions.
The oral care category lacked
natural products that were safe
and effective. We saw this opportunity to introduce natural
products that are easy to use and
effective, as well as offering numerous solutions to fit the needs
of pets and their people.
The pet supplement category
is large with multiple brands and
solutions. To become a leader in
this category, we launched four
supplements: Immunity, Diges-
tive, Multivitamin and Probiotic.
Each bottle is ultra concentrated,
made with natural ingredients
and easy to use, and all have a
We took the same natural
approach with our ;ea and tic;
line. Our products are made with
essential oils and natural ingredients. They are safe, effective, and
kill fleas and ticks by contact,
PPN: A portion of TropiClean’s revenue
goes to your parents’ nonprofit organization, Gifts of Love International. Please tell
us about the organization and why it is
important to your family and TropiClean.
DON KASSEBAUM JR., CEO: In 1985,
my parents went to Guatemala
on a mission trip with a group
of people from their church. In
those days, Cosmos Corp. was a
very small business being run by
Don Sr., Darin and myself. When
my parents and younger siblings
went to Guatemala, it was their
first time to see what a “Third
World” country was all about.
Needless to say, their hearts
were broken, and they realized
that God had something bigger
in mind for them—bigger than a
small shampoo company.
Over the following years, Der-
rik and Denver joined Cosmos
Corp. In 1989, Don Sr. decided to
turn the business over to his four
sons, so that he and mom could
spend more quality time driving
back and forth to Guatemala, to
do things that they felt God had
called them to do.
In 2003, my parents formed
the nonprofit organi;ation ;ifts
of Love International. Through
that organization, they were able
to begin shipping tens of thousands of pounds of aid to Guatemala, such as clothes, bikes,
beds, couches, etc. They shipped
containers of aid to Guatemala
for many years, until the Guatemalan government began to levy
such high taxes that it was no longer feasible to ship aid.
In 2007, my parents purchased 26 acres of land in Guatemala and began building a home
for widows and orphans. In 2012,
my parents built a Bible school in
Guatemala and turned that over
to Darin to manage.
At this moment, the orphanage, called Ninos Amados, houses about 80 children. The plan is
to build more homes on the property, when funds allow, so that
we can take care of 150 children.
In addition to Guatemala, my
parents, with their big hearts,
began to send money through
Gifts of Love to a mission in Haiti. This money enables that mission to provide medical care to
hundreds of children each year,
Products With Purpose
For the Kassebaum family, TropiClean not only allows them to share their love of pets—
it helps them provide food, homes and medical care to people in developing nations.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Don Kassebaum Jr. (second from left) and Cosmos Corp. employees and volunteers with a group of
children from the Gifts of Love International orphanage in Guatemala.