The kindly face appearing on every Uncle Earl's product is not made up. It belongs to a person whose name is Earl. Who is Earl and how did he end up on our labels? To answer this, you have to know a bit about his life and how he lived it.
Earl agreed to share a little about himself, albeit reluctantly. He's a humble guy and doesn't like to make a big deal out of anything, especially himself. Earl is one of those hardworking, no-nonsense people that gets things done. He's a man of total integrity; he wouldn't tell a lie if you paid him. He's got a quiet, inner strength and represents the qualities that make America great. This country was built by guys like Earl.
Earl was born in 1933 in Ohio, to humble and hardworking parents. He grew up during the height of the depression on a small farm. His dad worked the farm which had the typical menagerie of farm animals as well as some dairy cattle and horses. His mom was a homemaker for most of his childhood but later worked at the Dolly Madison Pickle factory.
Earl had a mechanically inclined mind and loved taking things apart and putting them back together. He was always working with his hands. "We couldn't afford toys when I was a boy," says Earl with a gentle, throaty laugh. "So I used to make my own. I was always interested in making things." As a teenager, Earl fell in love with cars. "We used to drag race at the airport. That kept us out of trouble."
Many people influenced Earl in his younger years but two uncles had a particularly strong impact on his life. One was a plumber; the other owned a hardware store and played in the Cleveland Orchestra. Both were hard working and Earl often shadowed them, spending time absorbing their knowledge and observing their strong work ethic.
Earl didn't care for school very much, except for math and drafting, excelling at both. Feeling ready to start his way in the world, Earl left school after the 11th grade. But he soon realized he needed to earn his diploma so he quickly finished his GED and also took supervisory and electrical training courses. Determined to put his skills into action, he began working for a local contractor. He did a little bit of everything, from heating and plumbing to electrical work.
When it became obvious that there would be a draft for the Korean War, many men waited for their number to come up, but not Earl. Instead, he tried to enlist but was turned away and told he wasn't needed at that time. Taking advantage of this development, Earl began building a home from the ground up. Shortly after laying the foundation, he received his draft papers. Slightly disappointed about putting his dream home on hold, Earl was eager to serve his country and headed to Fort Hood for basic training. After training, he was assigned to the 24th Division as a mechanic. His mechanical and leadership skills impressed his superiors and he was put in charge of the motor pool. After taking over the 81st Calvary Battle Group, 5th Division, Earl found himself stationed near the front, north of Seoul. He recalled that vehicle parts were extremely hard to come by but thanks to his ingenuity and determination, he found ways to scrounge the necessary parts and keep the motor pool running smoothly. One time HQ tried to collect critical parts for taking care of a VIP. Earl also needed those critical parts, so he filled up several deuces with those parts and sent the trucks cross country. He told them come back in two days. HQ came, took the parts that were left, and went away. Earl's trucks came back, and so did all his critical parts.
After being honorably discharged from the Army, Earl returned home determined to finish building his house. He also began working as an electrician and plumber and it wasn't long before he started a family. Earl had five children, three girls and two boys. Later, he worked for a company making systems to keep dust out of all kinds of assembly lines. He meticulously made paper patterns by hand. No one was there to show him the ropes; he taught himself to do a job that is now completely performed by computers.
Earl's work ethic was impeccable. He didn't have to think about ways to do a good job or go the extra mile because it came naturally to him. Unlike in today's world where new products may have a life span of five years or so, Earl looked at the long-term potential of everything he created. "I was always concerned about building high quality products that would last a long time. I took pride in a job well done."
After a long and successful career, Earl retired. However, his abilities were so unique and he was so respected that he still works as a consultant tackling big problems and offering guidance.
When asked about his life accomplishments, Earl didn't have much to say. He doesn't look at his life as being anything special. As far as he's concerned, he lived life the only way he knew how. After some gentle prodding and further reflection, Earl revealed a few things he considers accomplishments. First and foremost, his five kids and his grandkids. Second, building his first house. "I did everything myself, including pre-fabricating walls, hauling everything, wiring, plumbing and heating," Earl recalled. The house is a testament to Earl's varied abilities and his determination. It was home to his family for many years and is still standing today.
Finally, Earl mentioned a trip he took to Alaska in 2000 as one of his triumphs in life. He'd always wanted to visit Alaska, it was on his bucket list. He went alone in his motor home and experienced the majesty of the Alaskan wilds alongside grizzly bears, baby moose, sheep and wolves. "I kept thinking I would be bored driving all that way by myself, but I kept seeing amazing wildlife, snow capped mountains and emerald lakes," Earl said. "It was just amazing. I ran into people from all over the world. It was the trip of a lifetime."
Earl still likes to work with his hands when he can. He's built each of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren a rocking chair and toys. He enjoys teaching woodworking to his sons and a grandson. He's happy that a part of him, a skill that brought him so much joy, will be enjoyed by future generations.
Earl understands dirty hands like no other. Between woodworking and working on cars and machinery, grease and grime were practically part of his daily wardrobe. So there wasn't a better candidate to try our new machinist soap. "They gave me a bar and I really liked it," said Earl. "It lasts so long and really works great at getting grease off your hands. My favorite scents are orange and lemon."
But how did Earl become the face and name of our soap? He was the natural choice. Earl's life philosophy is the same as the philosophy behind Uncle Earl's Soap. For his entire life, Earl worked hard and lived simply. His thrifty upbringing stayed with him. He never wastes anything and everything he creates is high quality, designed with safety and made to last. Our soap is made from safe, high quality, natural ingredients, and is hard-working and long-lasting. We had the honor of working with Earl long ago and thought that naming our soap after him would be one way we could honor him and what he stands for: honesty, integrity, and hard work.
Being the humble guy that he is, Earl struggles with why he was chosen to be the face of our soap. He confesses to being surprised when we asked him for permission to use his likeness on the label. "I was reluctant," he admitted, "but this soap really cleans up well. I'm not quite sure why they picked me. I've never run into people who felt that way about me." Well Earl, we know exactly why you were picked. And we can't think of a better man for the job.
So that's the story of Uncle Earl and how he got into the soap business. If you have any questions for Earl, e-mail them to us and we'll make sure he gets them.