It all started with a clever chemical engineer, a desire to help those in need, and the tumultuous Cold War years. It was the early 1960’s when Dr. Robert Smith (Doc), formerly of Mead Johnson, developed a solution capable of removing fallout from the skin during the Cold War. Doc’s unique solution, named Tecnu® for “technically new”, was initially sold in 5-gallon buckets as a bomb shelter staple; fortunately, it was never needed!
Fast forward a few years later when Doc’s wife, Evelyn, accidentally discovered that Tecnu worked to remove the rash-causing oil (urushiol) from poison oak plants. Poison oak ran rampant around the Smith’s house and Evelyn finally had enough when the kids’ rashes became more and more frequent after playing in the yard; she took to the backyard barehanded (despite her sensitivity to the plants), and pulled out every poison oak plant. When the job was done, she went inside and washed up with a bottle of Tecnu Doc had left by the sink. Several days later, she was shocked when there were no signs of rash, especially considering terrible reactions she’d experienced in the past. Evelyn began telling friends and neighbors, and news of the cleanser’s ability to combat poison oak oil spread quickly.
As time went on, an unlucky event lead to Tecnu’s early success. Doc and Evelyn’s son, Steve owned his own janitorial business, and one day, while up on a ladder cleaning the outside of a bank, a kid passing by on a bike misjudged the distance between himself and Steve’s ladder, and BAM! Several broken bones and a lengthy hospital stay later, Steve opted for a career change and decided to see what he could do with his Oregon State Business degree to grow the Tecnu business. Even though 40 years have gone by and we have since outgrown the garage, we are still the same Oregon born pharmaceutical manufacturer with a love of the outdoors, and the desire to make quality products that help outdoor enthusiasts combat poison oak & ivy, insect bites, sunburns, and more! In the late 1990’s, Tec Labs stepped into the world of head lice treatments with a line of non-toxic head lice solutions that are free of chemical pesticides. You can learn more about Licefreee®, here.