Made in Chicagoland: Method's new South Side factory saves energy, employs local workforce

CHICAGO (WLS) -- You may have this product somewhere in your house right now. Method cleaning supplies are made right here in Chicagoland in a place nicknamed the "The South Side Soapbox."

The colorful, eye-catching dish and hand soap, all-purpose cleaner and laundry detergent can be found on store shelves like Target, Lowes and Home Depot.

Method is engineered, mixed, filled and distributed all from a new concrete plant on Chicago's South Side.

Inside on a production line, bottles made here are fed into a hopper. After being sorted, they're labeled. And then one by one, each bottle is filled with the Method product.

After an inspection, the bottles are boxed for distribution.

The motto around here is "People Against Dirty," which is certainly fitting for their products. But there's more to it than that.

"It's the first LEED Platinum manufacturing facility in our industry," said Andy Ondracek, senior director of manufacturing and supply chain.

Environmentally conscious, 40 percent of the plant's power is generated on-site with a 230-foot wind turbine and so-called "solar trees," or panels in the parking lot that rotate every 6 minutes to face the sun.

"We use an extensive amount of skylights and south facing windows, which really reduce the need for artificial lighting," Ondracek said.

On the roof, you might not be able to tell now, but by this summer the company says this will be the largest rooftop greenhouse in the world. Up to a million pounds of produce will be grown here annually and used in the local community.

And most of workforce comes from the local community with little manufacturing experience or none at all.

"We were able to teach them and train them to have the skills to have a job here," Ondracek said.

Method considered 100 sites for the factory. But the manufacturing heritage of the Pullman neighborhood was among the lures to plant in Chicago.

It's the first new factory of this scale on the South Side in the last 30 years, and with a $30 million price tag, Method says it hopes to redefine how manufacturing is done. Once the plant is fully up and running, the building is designed for students to come from far and wide to get tours.

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