NC family hopes the second generation will clean up

ROLESVILLE, N.C. — When Robert Diehl was 42 he ruined his wife Carolyn’s kitchen mixer trying to invent a low cost, hospital grade disinfecting cleaner. With his teenage daughter Candice by his side, the pair mixed 19 different formulas in their family bathtub, looking for something that worked but smelled good.Carolyn turned down all of them, but on the 20th they finally struck gold with what they later named Pine Glo. Pine Glo was founded in 1979 and is a family business in the truest form — its first employees were the Diehls’ four now-grown children. Robert’s first big contract was 35 cases for a shop in Lumberton and the kids filled every bottle. Soon he was in Food Town, now Food Lion, and it was off.Now this was 1979 — interest rates were 22 percent, inflation was 20 percent, everything was really high. They thought I was crazy.” said Robert. “But then the bank called me and said, ‘Bob we must be crazy too — because we are going to loan you the money.’ That was back when you could get a loan on a handshake, but now the times have progressed so much, it’s a lot harder to start a business now.”Matt Diehl got his start in the company at 8 years old, standing on Coca-Cola crates so he’d be tall enough to screw on each bottle cap after his older brother and sister filled the bottles. Robert says in the evening they would all lie in their beds, still hearing the clink of glass bottles rattling in their heads.Candice said her dad would even check them out of school when they needed to help fill an order. She grew up driving the forklift, filling the bottles and is now plant manager, shepherding orders, working distribution and running the facility with 12 full-time employees and 30 rotating temporary workers.Decades later, Matt is back in the family business, now the vice president of Rolesville-based Pine Glo, and he personally creates the new product mixes, tapping his chemistry degree from NC State University. He also runs sales, negotiating to get Pine Glo onto store shelves. Candice and Matt even fill in on the line when an employee calls out sick.Pine Glo has developed a long-term relationship with loyal shoppers of Dollar General, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree, all companies that stock with low cost products for a growing customer base. Matt just learned this fall that Pine Glo will also be on store shelves in Wal-Mart for the second year in a row. It means that they will be in 5,000 more stores nationwide, giving them a chance to expand the loyal customer base for their homegrown product. It’s a big victory for a small family owned business.”You go in and sit down across the table from them, you tell them how great your product is and you tell them your price. Then if they like your product and see potential, you work to get a price that works for the consumer, the retailer and the manufacturer. If you achieve that then you have a winner,” said Matt who said Rolesville turned out to be prime location for them to grow the company.”This spot ended up being perfect,” he added. “We have the headquarters of several major stores nearby and if you look at an overlay of all the different grocery store chains, we’ve got the most of probably any other state.”Working with his children has been part of the blessing of Pine Glo for Bob. He says his late wife, Carolyn, encouraged him to take the leap into the business and raised all the kids with an entrepreneurial spirit. His oldest children, Patrick and Robyn, have both run their own companies as well. Candice and Matt come to Rolesville every day working to grow the nearly 40-year-old-business.”This is home. It’s what Mom and Dad wanted to do. It’s where we are supposed to be,” said Candice.