How Great Depression-Era Carmex Lip Balm Took on a 21st Century Sheen

After sales took a nosedive in 2011, the company needed to pivot

To hear Paul Woelbing tell it, all he ever needed to know about lip balm he learned from … motorcycles. Woelbing is the third-generation president of Carma Laboratories, the Milwaukee-based company that makes Carmex lip balm. As a man who literally grew up with the product (his grandfather mixed the first batches in his home kitchen in 1937 and sold them out of the trunk of his car), Woelbing could run the company without breaking a sweat—and in the early years, he didn’t have to. When Woelbing took his post in 1991, “they were growing nicely,” he said, “about 8% a year without really doing anything.”

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This story first appeared in the April 29, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.