The very first failing some have identified with commercial products is bias. Everyone that has a commercial product believes they have the best. They also usually never see any direct or potential problems with their product. The latter can be quite dangerous for the user. Simply because such a product can easily cause harm to the glass or health issues. Both could result in lawsuits that could cost the company tens of thousands of dollars. I have run into both of these issues many many times.
Another glaring inadequacy is the matter of cost. I do remember discussing this issue with manufacturers over the years. Most window cleaners do know about the "formula". That is all of the expenses to bring a product to market must be added up and multiplied by a factor of 4.5 to 6 to get to the end retail price. So a product that cost 2 dollars to bring to market would cost the customer 12. But if you could get that product for 1.50 you would save a lot! This is why I am always looking at material safety data sheets under ingredients. It is also why manufacturers try very hard to cover up this information. Water is the greatest "filler" and way of hiding the main ingredient. If the product can be made at 99 percent water, then the main ingredient does not have to be listed by law. It can rather be explained as a proprietary ingredient. I have seen this many times. Laws are being passed now to make MSDS's much more transparent. Which does make it much more difficult for manufacturers of chemical based products.
Don't get me wrong however. If it were not for manufacturers we wouldn't have most of the products that we do. Never underestimate the power of greed! So many times I have located via the MSDS the key ingredients of certain products but could not source them. Simply because the chemical was so rare that the companies that sold it would ONLY SELL quantities that were way too large for anyone to buy. Lets say you only needed a quart a week. But the company "needed" to ONLY sell four 55 gallon drums at a time. It then becomes unavailable. That same company might sell to another that sells to smaller companies. But such smaller amounts might still be way too much. Also the cost in these smaller amounts might be SO extreme that it cannot compete with any other chemical or product out there. So again it is not available. This is a VERY large problem when trying to source specialty chemicals of even powders. So the manufacturer steps up and purchases the greater quantity to get the price down. Knowing they will be selling to thousands and thousands of very small companies through their very large distribution networks. Some companies have worldwide networks. They buy the chemical, bottle and label it, then send it out. It is also insured. Plus they must write up an MSDS for it to comply with OSHA law. And more. So YES we do need manufacturers!
This is a very complicated problem. Added to it is the further concern that manufacturers have of other manufacturers discovering their "formula" and "stealing" it. Such companies will come up with their own product based on this formula, cut their cost somewhat, and sell it at that reduced cost. But only for a short time until they can bring you over to their side. Then they will jack the price until it is way over the original number. Tricky yes. But it does work!
When I discover a particular product and tell everyone what that ingredient is and where we can all get it, I actually take this away from the manufacturers. Because none of them will be able to own a product based on that ingredient. They cannot keeep the formula secrete so they cannot own it. They will not put out the money or spend the time on such a product. This is something I absolutely MUST consider when I do my research in developing products. If I start bringing you a certain product at a cost, and do not tell you what exactly it is and where I got it, just know that I am protecting it FOR YOU. At a future time a manufacturer might pick it up and begin selling it at a reasonable price. But if they cannot own it they will not even want to touch it!
So many angles, so many problems, and so much greed. The bottom line is that product development and manufacturing is not simple. It takes much hard work. Further those who are in this business deserve what they get for their efforts. I certainly don't work for nothing;...do you?!
Written by Henry Grover Jr.