Manufacturer of disposable wipes turns waste into philanthropy
Mike Kryshak’s disposable wipes company has expanded its Saukville facilities and taken a new name, but a commitment to doing good in the world remains part of the business plan.
Nearly three years ago, Kryshak moved Carroll Converting into an 18,000-square-foot building at 700 N. Progress Dr.
Since then, the company has broken away from the Texas-based Carroll Co. while continuing to produce cleaning wipes for a wide range of industries.
It is from those roots that Rebel Wipes was born.
In severing its ties with Carroll, Kryshak has the flexibility of meeting the cleaning needs of customers while supporting a host of non-profit causes.
The wipes in the distinctively packaged Rebel Wipes canisters may be considered factory seconds by some because the colors of the container covers or the saturated fabrics may be mismatched.
However, rather than being discarded, the repackaged products are sold at a markedly lower price and all profits are used to support selected organizations.
The label on one container playfully proclaims “77 wipes — maybe more, maybe less.”
Kryshak said the effort to find a market for surplus product reflects the company’s commitment to being environmentally responsible.
“We recycle 99% of our waste,” he said.
A particular area of interest is reaching out to the biking community, passing on the profits from the production of Rebel-branded wipes used at bike shops to groups like Global Bikes, Dream Bikes and the Milwaukee Bike Collective.
“I am more of a runner, but one of my best friends is really into biking and he steered me in the direction of these groups,” Kryshak said.
Money raised from the sale of Rebel Wipes allowed the company to donate 265 refurbished bikes to needy children in Milwaukee last year. The goal is to top that number this year.
Rebel Wipes is a lead sponsor of the Saukville Scare run that raises money for the Saukville Chamber of Commerce, as well as the car show and poker run that benefit the Saukville Fire Department.
Kryshak said he has long had a desire to do more good in the community, but the more he researched large, non-profit groups, the more disenchanted he became.
“I learned that as much as 90% of the money raised by some charitable groups is spent on administration and overhead. It was sickening. That is when I decided to start my own charitable effort,” Kryshak said.
After learning how tightly regulated registered nonprofit groups are, Kryshak opted to handpick causes to support using the proceeds from Rebel Wipes sales.
“The goal of Rebel Wipes is to give money, services, equipment and to help other groups without asking for permission,” the company’s website explains.
“It’s our money, it’s your money and we have the right to give it where it’s needed.”
Once Kryshak started that ball rolling, he came to another realization.
“It didn’t take long to see there are a lot of people out there looking for money,” he said.
The company has a workforce of 25 employees who work two shifts of 10-hour days, four-day weeks.
Kryshak remains people focused, providing full health coverage for all his employees and covering their out-of-pocket deductible costs. All employees get four weeks of paid vacation, timed to allow the plant to shut down for extended periods around the holidays.
The work crew is aided greatly by robotics that have taken on an increasing roll in operation.
Digital screens keep workers posted on what jobs are being worked on and when production is scheduled to be complete.
Last fall, a 7,000-square-foot addition was built offering a significant amount of storage space for raw materials used in the production process — bulk rolls of disposable fabric and 5,000-gallon tanks of various cleaning formulas.
Kryshak said he came upon the company’s new name in the most serendipitous manner.
“As we were brainstorming about a name for the company, I just happened to see a boy walking by in a Rebels jersey. When I asked him what the name meant, he said it was the name of his youth football team,” Kryshak said.
“Then I saw the sign for Rebel Road and Rebel Park in Saukville. The name just kind of clicked, because we are all about doing business differently.”
He said village officials have been supportive of efforts to expand his business, and neighboring business owners form a valuable support network.
“I don’t need as big of a tool room as I used to have because I can take my work across the road to a place like Oldenburg Metal Tech. There are several other local companies we regularly do business with,” Kryshak said.
Photo Credit: REBEL WIPES IS making a name for itself in the cleaning industry as well as the community. After severing ties with the Carroll Co., the renamed Saukville business is repackaging its excess inventory into a product that raises money for charitable groups. Owner Mike Kryshak is dwarfed by stacks of raw wipe fabric stocked in the company’s new warehouse. Photos by Mark Jaeger