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Get fresh with Car-Freshner

A giant replica of the popular Car Freshner announces the location of the Berlin plant. (Photo by Elizabeth Ruediger) (click for larger version)
May 13, 2009
BERLIN — Necessity is the mother of invention and Car-Freshner is a product of that school of thought. As the story goes, a milkman grew tired of the essence of spilled milk in his truck. The stench literally drove him to Julius Samann, a chemist who devises a method of soaking an absorbent paper product with a pine oil extract. Hence, a little tree is born. Car-Freshner isn't crying over spilled milk as it has taken its trademark and put its product into nearly every convenience store in the nation. With three production centers in Watertown, N. Y., Dewitt, Ia. and our hometown of Berlin, N. H., the Little Trees are the first choice among consumers wishing to ban uninvited odors from their cars and homes.

In celebration of the impact Car-Freshner has had on the automotive industry, the Saratoga Automobile Museum in Saratoga Springs, N. Y., will celebrate this pop culture icon with the opening of a new exhibit, focused on the history of the Little Tree air freshener. The exhibit opens on May 16, in conjunction with the Spring Auto Show and runs through November 2009. The company had come a long way since its singular scent days. Car-Freshner has produced over 50 aromas to choose from. You can take a "scentual" journey to the beach with Ocean Mist or Summer Surf, climb on the back of your Harley with Leather or slide into the seat of your favorite sports car with Victory Lane.

And just because the company has been around for nearly 60 years, does not mean it is not on the cutting edge. Car-Freshner has an extremely user friendly website complete with the ability to order as many dangling trees, in as many as fragrances, as you can possibly imagine. Plus, the company's sense of humor prevails, with cool accessories from tree shaped clocks, playing cards, key rings, backpacks, hats and t-shirts and the ever-popular Little Tree Halloween costume. With the apparel, you can "let it hang", "play fresh", "ride fresh" and as a tribute to New Hampshire, "live fresh". The website contains a feature titled "Tree Sightings", where the Little Trees have been spotted in movies, television and media including "My Name Is Earl", "Ugly Betty", "Shark Tale", "Ocean's Eleven" and the infamous "sloth" scene in the Brad Pitt/Morgan Freeman thriller, "Seven", that literally sent chills up and down everyone's spine. On a lighter note, you can play "Release the Trees" to get your name on an online scoreboard as well as the ability to download an application to use the tree symbol as an instant messaging icon. Car-Freshner is very focused on taking the Little Trees into the 21st century and beyond.

Locally, Steve Dion is plant manager for the state-of-the-art Berlin manufacturing facility and took the reins approximately four years ago. The sweet smell of success has nearly doubled the workforce to the tune of 92 full and part-time employees consisting of an 85-90 percent female workforce. "It's a very family oriented company," said Mr. Dion. The company offers its valued employees medical, dental, life, vision, a wellness program at the Royalty, childcare and tuition reimbursement, liberal vacation and sick leave, paid leave for an employee's birthday, an annual employee recognition dinner for tenured years of service and various other seasonal celebrations.

"We are one of the anchors for health benefits in this community and we are proud to fill that role," said Mr. Dion.

Car-Freshner is heavily involved in community outreach, but likes to keep a low profile by being a silent partner for most events. The company encourages and supports employee involvement in local events such as Relay for Life for which special t-shirts are printed annually. This year's catch phrase is "Knock out Cancer: Little Trees Relay for Life". Car-Freshner's generosity may seem never ending, but it is the hard work of its highly skilled employees that is the fabric of this company's greatness. The Berlin plant produces the 10 most popular Car-Freshner scents and is proud to be acknowledged as one of the best in quality and safety of the three facilities. "

With its dedicated work force and commitment to the community, Car-Freshner is one of the key pieces to Berlin's economic puzzle. Berlin may be the city that trees built, but it is the Little Tree that helps to keep it standing.

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