Turtle Wax would have been one of those kitchen table success stories, except Ben and Marie Hirsch concocted their polish in the bathtub. In the 1950s they changed their company name from Plastone Polish to Super Hard Shell and, later, to the company we know as Turtle Wax. Led by the Hirsch's daughter Sondra Healy, Sondra's husband Denis John Healy Sr., and son Denis John Healy Jr., the family-owned company sells its products in 90 countries. It makes some 1,250 items, mostly under the Turtle Wax ICE, Turtle Wax Black Box, and Turtle Wax Headlight Restoration brands. Other items include engine treatments, vinyl and leather protectants, and odor removers. Turtle Wax also supplies bulk chemicals to car washes.
Facing stiff competition from the likes of Armor All and lagging sales, Turtle Wax has been transitioning itself from a manufacturing-based business into a consumer products marketer while investing heavily in research and development. To that end, it has outsourced its chemical manufacturing and now generates most of its revenue through car-waxing and -washing products, metal polishes, rubbing compounds, wheel and tire cleaners, and other items.
The move has resulted in its decision in 2010 to exit its regional car wash division. While Turtle Wax divests its locations, the company plans to continue to run the car washes. Once boasting about 20 car washes, Turtle Wax at the time of the announcement had a dozen car washes on the chopping block: nine in Chicago and three in Kansas City, Kansas. In the car wash niche, Turtle Wax operates alongside rival Procter & Gamble, which got into car wash ownership to give an extended life to its Mr. Clean and other cleaning products.
Looking outside the US to diversify, Turtle Wax supplies its products to South America, Asia, Africa, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. The consumer products company expanded distribution of its Total Interior Care line of multi-surface cleaner to Singapore in 2010. – less