A successful fashion editor, Max Carter was living in Sydney, Australia, with her family when her son developed allergies to regular commercially sold cleaning products. She came up with a line of cleaning products without using chemicals that would be harmful to her son. She starting selling her non-toxic cleaning product and it began to catch on in Australia, generating nearly $1 million in sales. They decided to see if they could continue the success of Murchison-Hume in the United State, so she moved the business, and her family, to Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, Murchison-Hume did not have the same results as with American consumers than it did for Australians and the business began to lose money. Their high-quality product had a high price point and they were having trouble competing with mass-marketed cleaning products.
Struggling with bills piling up, Max looked to The Profit’s Marcus Lemonis to see if he could help them clean up in this big, competitive industry of household cleaning products.
Murchison-Hume on The Profit
The Profit Season 4 Episode 6
At first, Marcus wasn’t sure he was in the right office. The Los Angeles office for Murchison-Hume was adorned with mood boards, fine chine, and of course, two dogs.
Co-owners Max and Peter met with Marcus and Max explained how Murchison-Hume was started. Max’s son was dealing with a wide range of health problems, including asthma, eczema, and host of allergies. She noticed his respiratory problems were exasperated when she would clean the house with commercial cleaning products. When she concocted her homemade plant-based cleaning products, her son’s symptoms seemed to be in check. The name Murchison-Hume was inspired by her father-in-law to add a touch of elegance to the business, but it was not catching on in the States.
From a marketing standpoint, Marcus felt the name was an issue. Customers should be able to easily pronounce and understand the connection to the product, something Murchison-Hume did not accomplish. He did like the smell of the products, feeling they gave off more of an essential oil aroma, rather than the traditional harsh odor that most cleaning products give off. Marcus was especially impressed with a sneaker spray Max had developed. When he wondered if she had sold it to any shoe stores, Max said that had tried. Marcus worried that she did not understand fully the shape her business was in.
Marcus was concerned about the brand and direction for Murchison-Hume. Max sold candles, garment cleaners, and the shoe spray, single products in varying categories that communicated a muddled brand. Max revealed the spray cleaners sold for $9, which was more than double the cost of her competitors, unless she planned on sending someone to do the cleaning, too.
A wildly inefficient production process was costing Max about $1 per unit. A third-party logistics company was having her products produced in Chicago before being shipped to Dallas, which was adding costs and losing customers. This was where Marcus would start.
Marcus felt the look and feel of the office space did not properly represent the products Murchison-Hume provided. The framed pictures of icons displayed throughout the space seemed to Marcus to be more appropriate for a fashion business rather than one that supplied cleaning products. Meeting with the art director, Marcus was told that it was a challenge to get anything approved by Max, who was continually looking to class up the business.
Mounting expenses and piling bills resulted in Murchison-Hume losing $477,000 the previous year. Max had plans to create a fulfillment center in the basement of the office plaza that housed their headquarters. No one but Max was enthused about this idea and Marcus felt it was a bad idea to move product across the country when they didn’t have to.
Marcus confronted Max and asked why she was still operating like the business was going well. It wasn’t. Murchison-Hume should have been closed months ago, but Max kept it going, feeling she had to make it work for her family. She’d moved them out of a beautiful home in Australia to a small home off an LA freeway.
Max was looking to The Profit for a $1 million investment to turn things around. Marcus felt the business was too risky and countered with $250,000 in exchange for 50 percent equity in Murchison-Hume. Max began to cry and countered with $500,000 for 30 percent of the business. The compromised and met in the middle by shaking on $250,000 for 30 percent of Murchison-Hume. Marcus would also get 70 percent of Max’s Best in Show pet product trademark she owned.
Getting to Work on Murchison-Hume
Marcus went right to work on changing the branding messaging for Murchison-Hume. In working with the art director, Marcus decided to change the name of the business to Clean Evolution, which upset Max to the point that she left the room. Marcus called her on the phone. She told him she was stressed and when she began to become a bit hysterical, they decided to meet up later.
Marcus brought in Kathy Ireland on the branding problems. Max was ignoring the work her art director had created, impressing neither Marcus nor Kathy.
Eventually, Marcus was able to start saving money for Murchison-Hume and Max by moving the manufacturing and distribution facilities to Chicago. He discovered the inventory to be off by as much $230,000 and gave Max one week to figure it out or he was getting out of the deal.
A week later, Max still had not figured out the large discrepancy in the inventory, having no idea where it went. She did not even seem phased by it or acted remorseful in any way. Marcus backed out of the deal, wishing her the best of luck in the future.
Where Are They Now? Murchison-Hume After The Profit
Though he backed away from the deal with Max and Murchison-Hume, he still retained equity in the Best in Show label to make up for the lost equity in the business.
Murchison-Hume is still in business under the original name, selling plant-based cleaning products on their website and through Amazon at exorbitant prices.
Max’s products have been featured in Marie Clarie, Vogue, and Home & Garden magazines.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is strictly informational; INSIGNIA SEO is not affiliated with Murchison-Hume, The Profit, or any of its subsidiaries.