Cape Cod Naturals is dedicated to providing economical, effective products that work as advertised and are good for both you and your environment.
Want to learn more about Cape Cod Naturals? Wicked Local Cape Cod wrote this great article about our company:
By Doreen Leggett
Keeping ticks, mosquitos away, naturally
Nauset Farms general manager Frank Barbato remembers Don Rogers stopping in with his Cape Cod All Natural mosquito and tick repellents earlier this year. Rogers was a local guy, his partner John LeBlanc grew up in Chatham, and the business was small – so small that Rogers has his own telephone number on every bottle they make.
Barbato, being a small businessman himself and impressed with how Rogers and LeBlanc used all natural ingredients in their meticulously crafted product, readily agreed to sell it in his store – right by the cash register.
And then one day this summer, after being snacked on by no-see-ums and other miniature torturers of the summer at his daughters’ soccer game Barbato grabbed a bottle and tried it out.
“It actually worked. Everyone kept stealing it,” Barbato said with a grin, adding that bottles of spray and lotion were quickly commandeered by women in the amateur league as well as his mother-in-law.
LeBlanc and Rogers, standing in the parking lot of the South Yarmouth Dunkin' Donuts where they met, their product line set up on a quickly erected table outside Rogers' van, said that has been the typical response since they started the company a few short years ago.
“We have a lot of repeat customers,” said LeBlanc, president of the company. Cape Cod All Natural is available at most Farmers Markets in through out Cape Cod.
Although the two have been working on different combinations of oils and other ingredients (they work with a woman who has a laboratory down in Florida and test stuff on the Cape) since 2012 the business wasn’t officially launched until 2014.
“This all happened by accident,” said Rogers.
Neither Rogers nor LeBlanc have a background in chemistry or product development – although they are both passionate about it now. LeBlanc, in his early 70s, is the son of a Chatham fisherman (his dad Vince worked on the Jenny S. with John Stello) who graduated from Chatham High, joined the Marine Corps, and came home to be a lineman for NStar in Orleans in 1968. Rogers, who is in his late 60s, grew up summering in Dennisport, and has held a variety of jobs ranging from owning a chain of Video Paradise stores, to race car driver, to making custom vans.
But by the time they met in South Yarmouth, where they both live, they were retired and they ended up striking up a conversation.
“We just started talking and it turned into a nice friendship,” said Rogers.
As is it turned out they both detested ticks and mosquitoes – LeBlanc has two Boston Terriers and Rogers has what he calls instant tickaphobia from the one time he had a tick imbedded in his leg.
“Our common interest was ticks and mosquitoes off of people,” Rogers said.
Rogers had been down in Florida, at a different Dunkin Donuts, when he happened to run into a luffa or loofah farmer who was talking about all the benefits of the plant and particularly how it was good for the skin and drew toxins out. Rogers was intrigued because his mom had shingles at the time and he wanted to help her out. While he studied up on loofah he became interested in other natural remedies and began working on a soap that harnessed the power of the plant.
“It’s been fun trying all these formulas out,” said Rogers.
Rogers and LeBlanc were friends by then and decided to build on the success of the goat's milk soap, made with powdered luffa. People loved it in their outdoor showers because it has citronella to ward off mosquitoes, said Rogers. So they used the universal fact that everyone is plagued by mosquitoes as well as the very real fear of tick-borne diseases on the Cape as the foundation to develop a product that united their common interest. But first they had to think of a name.
“We were going to change the name of it to old guy’s stuff,” Rogers said with a laugh.
They opted to go with Cape Cod All Naturals as natural ingredients are deeply important to Rogers who has a penchant for bees and is particularly concerned about the negative effects pesticides and other manmade chemicals are having on bees' numbers.
The two kept working to devise a better formula and came up with the tick and mosquito repellent spray and lotion that Barbato swears by, and now have a pet shampoo as well. Based on customer requests, they also just added a repellent that includes sunscreen.
Rogers explained with a smile that they had just dug out from investing in the repellents when they “sold the farm again’ with the sunscreen. "Sunscreen added a whole other level of testing including SPF number and allergy testing which was very expensive", Rogers said. And, they are very particular about their oils and where they come from- and that can be pricey.
But as the word got out about their product, people kept asking for it. The Chatham Anglers have used it, Cape Cod National Seashore stocks it, as well as a number of local pet and garden places, such as Agway. Rogers said a fellow from Maine recently drove down and picked up 1200 boxes of their repellent-infused dryer sheets for folks who are hiking the Appalachian Trail.
We are very fortunate to have local experts here on Cape Cod, such as Larry Dapsis, an entomologist with Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, who gave them “a ton of material on ticks" and staff at the Lyme Disease Center of Mashpee.
Although sales rose 30 percent with the introduction of the sunscreen, Rogers said they aren’t in the black yet.
Still, he didn’t seem to upset about it. They are both retired he said and can afford to put the money back into the company. “It gives me something to do and it works,” agreed LeBlanc.
The two are still improving the formula and are excited about the advances so far. Rogers said getting the balance of oils and the right oils is no easy task - there are 45 different types of lemon grass and 742 know types of eucalyptus Where a plant is grown and how it is processed plays a big role in its effectiveness. The Cape, though, with marshes "that are bug heaven" is the perfect place to run tests, said Rogers.
“The tests are off-the-charts great,” Rogers enthused.
They have been talking to a marketer about maybe changing their bottles or display, but for now they are concentrating on results.
“The Marketing People say you have to make it jump, you have to make it pop - How about we make it good and keep the cost reasonable?” Rogers said.
October 04. 2015 6:03AM - updated May 19, 2016