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HomeAccessories > Car Care > Zymöl Waxes & Cleaners > The History of Zymöl
The History of Zymöl

"A company grew from curiosity about how
a German great grandmother was
disowned for marrying a Dane."

by Yale Rachlin
editor BMW CCA Roundel Magazine

This company really started with Roots (Arthur Haley's famous book that was made into a mini-series).

heidel2.jpg (20217 bytes) "That's what made me decide to see where my German great grandmother came from. She was a Rothschild. The one that was disowned for marrying a Dane. So we went to Germany and visited her birthplace. It was one of those villages noted for lots of drinking. That's where I saw the carriages."
Five minutes of talking with Chuck Bennett, from whose brain sprung the idea of Zymöl Car Care Products, and I found myself talking faster. The man's energy is contagious - the kind that makes you feel like all the tired "110 circuits" have just been ripped out, replaced with "220's"and then someone came along and flipped the power on full. I sat there, mentally monitoring the spikes and surges, and let the story unfold.
"There were a lot of horse drawn carriages there," Bennett continued.
"They were wooden but they looked like metal.
They put clay over the wood, let it dry, sanded it, and painted it with enamel. I saw craftsmen repairing chips. They used something with a horrible smell. Pork and beef fat, fermented lard, suet, and sap extracted from the Montan evergreen trees that are native to Germany. I decided it might be a good idea without the lard and I brought some back."
As luck would have it, Bennett's wife was an allergen formulator for a pharmaceutical company and was able not only to determine the composition of this "Old World" wax and cleaner, but to start finding suitable substitutes.

They began by replacing the specific oils and gravity of the tallow and lard with highly saturated plant oils such as coconut, banana, and cinnamon bark.

The Montan was retained. Then the concoction was spun at high speed to make it as thin as DMSO and, as a result, osmosible "We liked what we had but it was missing something," recalls Bennett. "It didn't have the live culture of fermented fats. There were no enzymes. It needed a re-agent. We finally settled on Propolis - what bees use to convert plant oils into wax. It's an enzymatic emollient like you find in beer or yogurt or sourdough. That's where the first half of the Zymöl came from. It's also one of the things that makes Zymöl different. Oxygen is the catalyst that makes Propolis work. So Zymöl is not really a wax until it's applied. The last half of the name came from the German word for oil - complete with the umlaut."

Mark Luckman, executive director of the BMW Car Club of America recalls his first conversation with Bennett. "I mentioned that I had just had my car restored and that I was going down to Milford to see my in-laws. Branford, where Chuck was, is pretty close to Milford." Chuck said, "Let me come and wax your car." "I figured, why not? So he did. I was impressed. I gave him the name of people to call in the Connecticut Valley Chapter". The first real batch of Zymöl was cooked up in a coffee urn at Bennett's house.
Chuck continued the tale, "What launched this company was the CVC dinner meeting,. I was debating whether or not to start this company. I had a Topaz 530 until a fire truck took its nose off. God, I miss that Car! But I still had it then and decided the local BMW Club Chapter was a good place to start. So, I went to the meeting and explained how Zymöl worked. The reception I got and the level of encouragement gave me the message...Go back and do the business! We never would have done it without the support those people gave to us. BMCCA started the business. We figure we are just here managing it for them."

burnfound.GIF (14671 bytes) Zymöl; Official Wax

"Over the past few years, we have really started to grow. We intend to make this company the de facto standard of car care products for major clubs in the U.S. That's why we've increased our sponsorships and have gotten more active at Oktoberfest, the national Ferrari Club, Pebble Beach,  and   other car club events. In addition to sponsoring the Oktoberfest Concours, Zymöl is becoming involved in events on a regional and chapter level. For example, the Boston Chapter Concours at Newport, Rhode Island, now is titled the Zymöl Newport Concours. The company has stepped up its availability of advice, tech sessions, and door prizes to other chapters of BMWCCA and other marquee clubs and has developed a marketing plan for their retailers and distributors to do the same."  "We have also been chosen as the official wax of the Burn Foundation Concours of the United States."

Unlike many car care companies, Zymöl makes available a detailed analysis of how its products work compared with other waxes in the face of various kinds of dirt and pollutants. The company also has distinguished itself from other car care companies by its emphasis on service. They've instituted an 800 number for technical assistance. And they've started a new program of formulating special mixes of HD Cleanse to solve a customer's specific car cleaning problem - at no charge.
"We have lots of plans for things like a national open marquee Concours and joint sponsorship with other kinds of automobile equipment manufacturers. We would like to sponsor a major event and give the proceeds to the homeless. We want to grow. And we find the best sales people we have are club members themselves. They are our ambassadors. In fact, a lot of club members are becoming mini-dealers. Mary Kay, step aside!"
As if that weren't enough, Bennett and his company have created a wax that was theoretically impossible. "Our customers know the value of white Carnauba. Several asked if we could formulate a polish with a higher Carnauba concentration. We discovered that the magic mark for saturation is 48%. Then we tried something different. We put a hand-held blender on the back of one of our mixers, took the white Carnauba and collided it with almond oil. The result is a 55% saturation that looks, feels, and smells like nutmeat. It's so dense that you have to use your hand as the applicator - to warm up the wax enough to spread. But the shine is incredible." The new 55% white Carnauba Destiny retails for $475.00 a container and it's back-ordered!
Part of the reason is the Japanese. Zymöl recently began distributing its products in the Land of the Rising Sun and is well on its way to becoming the most popular wax in Japan. Explains Bennett, "The average Japanese takes much more time with his car then the average American. He washes his car every day. It's a dishonor to have a dirty car. Everyone over there is an enthusiast (but they don't know it yet). Japanese culture also has a definite sense of order and this makes our kits very popular. Because our products are derived from things that are from nature, they have great appeal in Japan. Besides, we like to think we're contributing to the balance of trade."
Special Zymöl wax formulations are available on a custom order basis. For example, Zymöl has developed 1:1 waxes for custom paints by researching the paint's formulation, the car's previous ownership and care, analysis of paint thickness, degree of abrasion, and so on. In the case of new paint applications, the company obtains a sample of not only the lacquer, enamel, or acrylic but also the sheet metal to which the pain is applied. Explains Bennett, "Cars are exposed to the elements but they also can be exposed to neglect. Many commercial products are unsuitable of them . Our one-to-one products are formulated to meet the needs of a specific car and its owner. You can expect to pay well into four figures for a special polish formulation. But the demand is there." The Zymöl concept has been featured on the Joan Rivers Show, Lifetime, and Good Morning America. Rich and famous Robin Leach has talked with the company, concerning a segment on "How to Make the Most Expensive Car Wax in the World". In addition, one European car company has expressed an interest in having a wax made especially for their cars - with the stipulation that the wax must be red.
Zymöl's product line includes more than its nutritive waxes. There are non-abrasive cleaners to remove dirt, grease, and oil. A product called Strik is made of citric turpine and removes Cosmoline on contact. Zymöl takes lemon, orange, and grapefruit rind pressings, fractions the oil and the result is a natural citric solvent that claims it won't affect rubber, paint, or anything else - including your hands.
The company further extends its line with Fabrique upholstery and carpet cleaner, Zymöl Glas to clean and polish windshields and lights, non-corrosive phosphoric Brite Wheel Wash, Clear Auto Bathe car wash, leather, vinyl and rubber trim conditioners, and a range of accessories from wheel brushes to cashmere car covers. An Owner's Manual accompanies all products. A catalog featuring a wide range of products, such as fully stocked picnic baskets for rallyists, is in the thinking staged. Not content to stop with cars, the company is working on a three-speed ski wax.
"The thing I keep telling people is that it's okay to love your car. So you get flak about it from your family or friends. So what? In today's business environment it's necessary to have that kind of escape. Our products are made to help people take good care of something that really pleases them."
Zymöl is a family business and you can tell this as soon as you walk through the front door. As in the style of the Japanese, everyone knows how to do every job when it comes to producing each product. But, even more, there is a feeling of genuine enthusiasm and helpfulness that permeates the environment. It is quite unusual.
Dick Fontana, is co-founder and retired Executive Vice President and still a major player in the business. He was an accomplished violinist who was killing himself in a machine shop. I asked him to come and run the business. He has a great old-fashioned management ethic and has been a tremendous asset to our technical staff.
Bennett says "It sounds corny, but I love doing this. I love going to a Concours. Being in the sunshine. Outside - it's good exercise. It especially makes people happy."

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