Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the headquarters of the J.R. Watkins Naturals Company in Winona, Minnesota. They invited me and four other bloggers to spend a couple days getting to know the products and the history of the company. Believe me, there was a lot to learn because this company has been around for over 140 years!
With my first step into the historic company administration building, I knew this was going to be a memorable trip. Built in 1912 by Prairie School architect George Washington Maher, the building is beyond gorgeous.
Even more amazing is that the company's original factory buildings are connected to the office building and are still in use to this day! The factory tour was a special treat for me because I am a total factory geek - I LOVE seeing how things are made!
The Watkins factory is unique because it is on multiple levels rather than all one level as most modern factories. This allows them to use sustainable, gravity-fed filling processes. Products get mixed on one level, then fed downstairs through big pipes and into the fill machines. We happened to be there when the Tub & Tile Cleaner was being filled.
After the tour, we sat down with company president, Mark Jacobs and other Watkins executives to chat products. We asked some tough questions about ingredients and the use of the term natural in personal care and home products. I was happy to learn that the company is truly dedicated to living up to the natural designation on their famous apothecary-style labels. In the last couple years many products have been reformulated and they have been working to get the Natural Products Association Certified seal on the majority of their personal care and home care products. (I'll be writing more about this topic soon - there is a lot to know!)
We also got to hang out in the company test kitchen and sample new products, like this brand new baby line that will be hitting stores in December:
No blogger trip would be complete without some wining and dining (or so I am told - this was my first blogger trip!) and the J.R. Watkins team did a fabulous job of making that happen. We stayed in the historic Alexander Mansion where we were treated to a bag of Watkins goodies and chocolate & Bailey's at bedtime.
Last but not least - what a treat to spend time with these wonderful bloggers: (from left to right) - Jodi from Mom's Favorite Stuff, Kiersten from The Type A Housewife, Jennifer from Savoring the Thyme and Lori from Groovy Green Livin (I'm the tall one, second from the right).
I'm looking forward to sharing more about J.R. Watkins Naturals - it's a really cool company and there is a lot to share!
Have you ever tried J.R. Watkins Naturals products? What's your favorite?
Image credit for top photo of Watkins building - Jodi Grundig of Mom's Favorite Stuff.
(Full Disclosure: The J.R. Watkins company paid for this trip in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any other way.)