By MEGGIE I. FOSTER
SALEM, Ohio — For one Ohio pharmacist, creating a cream for dairy farmers to treat dry, chapped udders has become much more than just a dream come true – it’s helped build a business to support three generations of his family.
Bill Kennedy Sr., 71, a registered pharmacist, created his company, Redex Industries, Inc., nearly 30 years ago in response to a growing number of dairy farmers looking for a greaseless, stainless cream to treat dry, chapped and cracked teats while maintaining a pleasant fragrance and producing quick results.
“He had a lab in our basement at home and started working on developing a product to meet their needs,” said daughter Lorraine Winterink, who serves as the company’s public relations manager. “He developed an udder cream similar to Bag Balm ointment, and he thought it would be nice to have something closer to a cream that would be good for your hands, too.”
Months later, family man and pharmacist Kennedy unveiled Udderly Smooth Udder Cream, which was primarily sold in farm supply stores and used by dairy farmers. Upon its popularity and success amid dairy industry buffs, this cream became the flagship product of Redex. Carrying a distinctive dairy theme, the product is easily recognizable on shelves with its black-and-white Holstein cow-spotted packaging.
The popularity of Udderly Smooth, however, didn’t begin and end in the dairy industry alone. Several years later, Winterink said the company started to notice a group of Ohio quilters ordering crates upon crates of the soothing udder salve.
“The quilters found out about Udderly Smooth and loved using it on their hands to treat rough skin; and when they put it on, they found out it wouldn’t stain their fabric, so they loved it even more,” she added. “From that point, we knew we could market this product to consumers. We’d been using it all our lives on our skin, but now we had discovered we could tap into the retail market.”
And that was the beginning of the retail boom for Udderly Smooth, a product originally intended for dairy cattle.
“One thing led to another, once we started marketing to quilters, a few stores picked up the product, then it was one chain after another,” she explained.
Winterink said the barnyard remedy really picked up momentum when it was featured on “Oprah” and “The People’s Pharmacy.” According to Winterink, once consumers began using the cream on their hands, the salve gained instant popularity and today Udderly Smooth products can be found in mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart, chain drugstores such as CVS and grocery stores coast to coast.
Additionally, the balm has picked up a few fans in the entertainment industry, including appearances on television programs such as “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Reba,” “ER” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
Relief for cancer patients
The medical community also recently tuned in to the success of the little water-based udder cream developed and manufactured in Salem.
“About four years ago, Roche Laboratories came to us with a new oral chemotherapy drug and said one of the side effects during the trial was dry, cracked hands and feet, which soon developed into hand-foot syndrome,” said Winterink. “It was so painful that patients would end up in the hospital bleeding and swollen.”
She said Roche began packaging the drug with 2-ounce samples of Udderly Smooth to use with the medication to prevent and treat symptoms of hand-foot.
“Now the product is professionally recognized in oncology offices … when you get hand-foot syndrome, you need Udder Cream,” said Winterink, adding that the doctors “practically sell it for you, they love it.”
Pharmacist Randy Johnson of Phoenix, Ariz., fell in love with the Udder Cream when developing a presentation he made in pharmacy school in North Dakota.
“We had to make a presentation on over-the-counter items and why I would use them – I picked the Udder Cream because we had used it in our house when I was growing up,” said Johnson, who was raised in a farm community in northern Montana.
“When I looked at what was in the cream, I just couldn’t believe it; it has a very low amount of alcohol, which dries out your skin.”
The water-based cream became a quick recommendation for Johnson with his pharmaceutical patients at CVS, he said, because it works with the natural processes of skin without drying it out.
“I recommend this product every time, especially for someone who has eczema and problems with really dry skin,” Johnson added, who actually met Winterink, while recommending the product to an eczema patient at his Phoenix CVS store.
“These customers usually come in and say they have tried everything and nothing works, so I recommend the Udder Cream and show them the ingredients on the back and how good it is for their skin. I’d say at least 90 percent of my customers come back and say how much they like it and how much money they spent on other products to heal their dry skin.”
Johnson compares his favorite over-the-counter cream to big-name products such as Aveeno and Jergens.
“I love Aveeno, but Udder Cream is as good, if not better, and it’s half the price – you just can’t beat that,” he exclaimed.
Farmer and businessman Matt Baird finds numerous uses for the barnyard remedy, as he farms 350 acres and shows registered Angus cattle and registered Duroc, Hampshire and Yorkshire hogs.
“We use the Udder Cream on sow bags (pig udders) of some of our show pigs, when it gets tore up during nursing,” the multitasking Baird explained. “We also use it on our sunburned hogs and it straightens ‘em right up in two to three days.”
Baird, who also owns and operates Baird Brothers fine hardwoods and Baird Livestock, recommends the product for rough, dry skin. He said many of his employees, nearly 110, use the barnyard cream to treat eczema and dry skin.
In comparison to other farm ointments, he said, “I use Bag Balm too, but Udder Cream is a great product because it’s greaseless. Bag Balm has its purposes, but this product has its purposes, too.
“I’ve used the product personally and can’t speak enough about it, really. I’ve known the Kennedy family for some time now,” Baird said, and mentioned he farms the family’s land in northern Ohio. “I’ve used the product for at least 15 years now.”
A family business
One of the most gratifying aspects about working for the family business, Winterink said, is “the number of letters we get from people with different skin problems.
“I just think to myself when I read some of these letters, ‘This is incredible, this is the reason we’re in business.’ People are really benefiting from this cream, we all find a lot of satisfaction in that.”
In addition to Winterink, sisters Margaret Kennedy and Linda Kzior and brother Bill Kennedy Jr. are employed by the company. The man behind the invention of Udderly Smooth Udder Cream, Kennedy Sr., serves as the CEO for Redex and maintains an active role in the family business, which also includes seven grandchildren amid the 20-some employees.