Tanning Lotion


Island Sun Times
Volume 4, Issue 5

A Decade of Horsin Around
by Richard Alan

The great northwestern state of Oregon is beautiful and scenic. However, even those who love living there year 'round admit that it's not one of the sunniest places on the globe. Lotion maker Dale Hansen, president of Hoss Sauce, Inc. is one of those people. "We see the sun around here - occasionally - during the three summer months of the year and not much more during the remainder," he stated. "But, the natural beauty of this region is so overwhelming that it somewhat makes up for the cloudy days."

"One thing many people don't understand about living in a climate like this," said Hansen, "is that despite the constant moisture in the air, one's skin dries out even faster than in less humid climates. The reason," he stated, "is because the atmospheric dampness is constantly evaporating and carrying away much of the skin's natural oil and moisture. Regular moisturizers simply do not have a hydration factor high enough to offset the moisture loss at this altitude and humidity," he said. "That skin dryness is even more acute for those who tan, and in the late 1980's, I kept thinking about ways to create a lotion that achieved superior hydration."

Hansen thought about making his own indoor tanning lotion for several years. In the meantime, he continued in his regular career as a freelance marketer, successfully advertising and promoting his clients' products and services. "At one time or another, I have promoted almost every conceivable product. I didn't see any reason why an indoor tanning lotion would present any great difficulty. Having done it now for almost 10 years, I still feel the same."

In 1989, he finally decided to attempt the development of a super-hydration lotion. He visited an old friend of his, a chemist who was doing cosmetic research at a college. The scientist agreed to sign on to the lotion project. They agreed that L-tyrosine was the best choice as the product's active tanning agent. It is already present in the skin as a critical part of the tanning process and increasing the available amount of it with a lotion enhances the tanning process. "It was a natural solution," he said. The rest of the ingredients in Hoss Sauce products come from exotic locales all over the world.

What's In A Name?

As far as the lotion's name, "Hoss Sauce," Hansen said he drew on his own nickname, "Hoss." Hansen likes to dress in Western attire and at one time wore a large 10-gallon hat similar to that of Hoss Cartwright on the 1960's television show, Bonanza. "Sauce rhymed with Hoss," he said, "and the friends I asked liked it too, so that was where the name came from."

In order to market a product that appealed to both men and women, Hansen chose a uni-sex fragrance. "It is a pleasant scent that both sexes like. It's light, not heavy, and doesn't stay around all day like some others do. This can be important, especially to lunch time tanners who wear a perfume or cologne and don't want their tanning lotion conflicting with it."

Hoss Sauce packaging was also slated to be different than the industry's normal style. "I tend to be my own person and not follow the crowd," said Hansen. "I pretty much want to do things my way. All I saw on the lotion market was gold this, gold that, sun this, sun that. I wanted to break out of that pattern. I'll admit that what we came up with tends toward the masculine side somewhat, but I figured that's good." "Guys won't even pick up a frilly or feminine package to read the label," Hansen stated. "And they wouldn't be caught dead carrying a feminine looking bottle through a salon. On the other hand, women focus on results. If a product works great like Hoss Sauce, they couldn't care less about the package it comes in."

Chicago Trade Show 1992

After almost two years of effort, Hansen was finally ready to go to market. He showed up for the Chicago trade show in 1992, ready to do business, but he knew no one. "The first persons to approach me from the tanning industry were Ronnie Allen and Johnny Allen from the distributor, Four Seasons," said Hansen. "They liked Hoss Sauce right off the bat and became our first distributor. I'll always remember those guys for making me feel welcome"

"At that show, our whole staff was dressed up in Western wear," said Hansen. "I was masquerading as Marshal Dale Hansen and the employees were members of my posse. We sure got a lot of looks, but it taught me one thing - make a unique presentation and people will remember you. We still get calls from people who saw us in Chicago and I know it had to be in 1992, because that is the only time we went to that event."

Keeping Control of Quality

Hoss Sauce is produced in a 26,000-sq. ft. complex that also houses office, laboratory and warehouse facilities. "We have up to 22 employees during the busy season," said Hansen, "but the number is generally around 15 including all departments. We can keep up major production with such a small number of employees, because we are quite well automated. The machines do the filling, labeling and capping, but the bottles are boxed by hand. This way, a line worker gets one last look at the product and can, for example, see a crooked or missing label or feel by the bottle's weight if it's not full."

One of the reasons Hansen wanted to do his own manufacturing was that so he could keep absolute control of quality. "My investment in this factory is one sign that I am going to be in this industry for the foreseeable future," he said. "But, I can only achieve that if I have repeat business as well as new business. The way to assure that is to ship only products that I have made to my own quality specifications. By making the products ourselves, we can also control costs and get very high quality products on the market for less - sometimes even cheaper than inferior brands sell for."

Hansen said Hoss Sauce refuses to pack private label lotions for other companies that pretend to be manufacturers. "We are geared to produce only high quality lotions and we won't even consider making some of the lesser quality concoctions in the marketplace."

Government Control

On the subject of government regulation, Hansen says that in general, he doesn't like it. But, he concedes that indoor tanning is one of the places where it is needed. "Oregon is a regulated state and I think the agency does a good job. They have really helped to clean up and clear out a lot of the marginal and unethical salons that were giving indoor tanning a bad name," he said.

Boosting Salon Sales

The current problem with lotions at the salon level, said Hansen, is education. Salons are not stressing lotion sales to their employees nor giving them the tools to work with - they are hurting themselves, he stated. "Thirty to forty percent of a salon's sales should be from lotions - if not fifty percent! But, in order to achieve those numbers," said Hansen, "employees have to be shown how to sell. In too many cases, that is not happening, although Hoss Sauce is willing to help them if they ask. We have everything from posters to advertising co-op dollars that you can receive without having to jump through hoops. Even our product catalog has information on selling that can be very profitable for a salon to use," he said. "But it takes some desire on the part of the salon owner to make it happen. As Marshal Dale Hansen says, 'You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink!" he chuckled. "The ol' marshal has a full water trough here, so if there are any thirsty salons out there, you tell 'em to quit horsin' around and call us, pronto!

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