Seventh Generation CEO Hollender Stepping Down from Post

Seventh Generation CEO Hollender Stepping Down from Post

Jeffrey Hollender, the co-founder and CEO of green cleaning and housewares company Seventh Generation is expected to announce today that he is handing over the reins of the business, while retaining the title of Chief Inspired Protagonist and taking on the role of Executive Chairperson.

The founder of the company and its leader for more than 20 years, Hollender is handing over the duties to someone who can help usher the company into bigger markets, larger influence -- and facing bigger competition.

"[A]s we stood on the precipice of our third decade, our company was already moving into a new era in which we could not and should not be the small business we once were, moving with relative ease down well-worn roads and across familiar territory," Hollender wrote in an email to supporters last week. "Instead, we are heading into a new landscape where the competition is bigger and fiercer, and the challenges greater and more numerous than any we have yet faced."
Jeffrey Hollender. Jeffrey Hollender
Seventh Generation has set a goal to grow its annual business from its current level of about $150 million per year to over $1 billion in the coming years, and the scale and scope of changes that growth will require drove Hollender and the other leaders at the company to seek a new CEO with skills to operate and help the company thrive in much bigger markets.

After a year-long search and interviewing more than 70 potential candidates, Hollender wrote that the new CEO for Seventh Generation will be Chuck Maniscalco, a 21-year veteran of Quaker Oats, Tropicana and Gatorade.

"...Chuck has the precise combination of strong strategic planning experience, operational management wisdom, and the philosophical grounding that we require to lead our company and community through an increasingly competitive landscape fraught with economic challenges," Hollender wrote. "With him at the helm, Seventh Generation will have a management team that will rival, if not surpass, those at many of our large traditional competitors."

Seventh Generation has long been a pioneer in not just green cleaning and consumer products, but in the whole universe of green business practices. Whether launching a line of chlorine-free paper towels in 2001, launching a label-reading guide for shoppers in 2008, or supporting sustainable palm oil production earlier this year, Seventh Generation has worked from its start to incorporate environmental and social responsibility across its operations.

In recent months, the company has been expanding sales and product lines and sales partners, even partnering with Wal-Mart, in a move that led Hollender to ask if the company had "sold out."

Hollender has also been updating his "Inspired Protagonist" blog on since June 2006; more details about his announcement will likely appear there after Hollender makes his announcement.