PEOPLE: OPPORTUNITY SPARKLES FOR WALLACH AT CLEAN SHOWER: AFTER NABISCO, HIS CAREER PATH BECOMES MORE ENTREPRENEURIAL

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After leaving one of the biggest package-goods companies in the U.S. and a $140 million marketing budget, Robert Wallach is taking on a seemingly much smaller job-but one where he sees a big future.

The former VP-marketing for Nabisco Biscuit Co.'s cracker brands has become global VP-marketing for Automation Inc., marketer of Clean Shower. He's taking over a brand invented in a chemist's garage and built into one of the surprise successes among household products on the strength of low-budget radio DJ endorsements and internally produced TV spots.

"In this very interesting market, there was no opportunity I could find that was more interesting than the one here at Clean Shower," said Mr. Wallach, 41. "The company is in an exciting stage in its evolution. And what I can bring .. . given my background with large package-goods companies and even smaller ones, made it a good match on all sides."

Mr. Wallach spent six years in brand management with what was Kraft General Foods in the 1980s, after three years as account exec with W.J. Spencer Advertising, Albany, N.Y., and earning an MBA from Columbia University.

SALES SOAR WHILE AT DANNON

In 1992, Mr. Wallach moved to Dannon Co., where until 1997 he was VP-marketing. While he was at the yogurt marketer, its sales more than doubled to $600 million. From there, he was recruited by former Nabisco President John Greeniaus to be VP-marketing of the cracker division last year.

At Nabisco, Mr. Wallach said, he helped sales of Air Crisps grow 25% and Triscuit by 21% in less than a year. But his position was eliminated in April in a restructuring.

Clean Shower "is an opportunity to live out one of my fantasies and get involved in something a little more entrepreneurial," Mr. Wallach said.

$56.3 MIL IN SALES

Clean Shower, launched nationally in 1996, had retail sales of $56.3 million for the 52 weeks ended July 19, according to Information Resources Inc., and still leads its segment despite new entries from Clorox Co.'s Tilex Fresh Shower and Reckitt & Colman's Lysol Mist Away. Automation, based in Jacksonville, Fla., also is in the midst of rolling out an all-purpose indoor/outdoor cleaner called Clean It.

Mr. Wallach was recruited by former Automation President-CEO Paul Porter, who then resigned to take time off and pursue new ventures. Mr. Porter also was chief marketer for Clean Shower and headed East Pointe Advertising, Automation's in-house agency.

Mr. Wallach said he hasn't considered yet whether Clean Shower, with a current budget of $15 million to $20 million, will ultimately move to an outside agency. (At Nabisco, his agency was McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York; Dannon's agency at the time of his tenure was Grey Advertising.)

"I have a lot of respect for what's been done here and the unorthodox approach," he said. "Right now, there are a lot of very talented people in this company, including people at our in-house agency, doing great work, and business results demonstrate that. . . . Anyone who's been successful I approach reverentially, whether they have an MBA or not, whether they have classic package-goods training or not."

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