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S.C. Johnson plans to acquire Method, which has a Pullman soap factory

S. C. Johnson & Son, known for brands such as Windex and Pledge, has signed an agreement to acquire cleaning product-makers Method and Ecover.

Method, which makes cleaning liquids in hip, curvacious bottles, opened a soap factory in Chicago's Pullman community area in 2015. Belgium-based Ecover focuses on eco-friendly cleaning products, and both brands are owned by San Francisco-based People Against Dirty.

S.C. Johnson, a private company based in Racine, Wis., didn't disclose terms of the acquisition, which regulators in the U.S., U.K. and Germany must approve.

Method's move into Chicago's Far South Side was a push toward redevelopment of Pullman Park, named for the railroad cars once manufactured there.

Though a nearby Walmart opened before the soap factory, Method was a trailblazer for industry in the area, said David Doig, president of Pullman Park developer Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives. And the community has reaped some benefits, he said.

"(Method has) done a great job in hiring from the neighborhood," Doig said. "They've really taken a lot of efforts to provide job training, so I think we're hopeful S.C. Johnson will keep that tradition going."

The development in the area has ticked up around the soap plant. Whole Foods Market plans to open a distribution center there in the coming months. Brooklyn enterprise Gotham Greens opened a farm full of leafy veggies on the roof of Method's factory.

Outside of industry, the area also drew presidential attention. In 2015, then-President Barack Obama declared Pullman a national monument.

Method's facility does not fit into a typical factory mold. Besides the rooftop farm, it comes complete with a wind turbine and ponds that catch stormwater. In the parking lot, solar panels are lifted on columns to resemble trees.

The $30 million factory was financed in part with a mixture of city and state incentives.

People Against Dirty employs about 90 people at the factory, a spokeswoman said. She declined to comment further.

The facility's employees were likely blindsided by this news, said Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th. If regulators approve the acquisition, he said he plans to have immediate conversations with the company.

"I'm going to ... let them know the importance of continuing the partnerships we have in the community and make sure they continue to focus on hiring from the community," he said.

S.C. Johnson Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson said in a news release that Method and Ecover "are a great complement to S.C. Johnson's trusted lineup of iconic brands." A company spokeswoman declined to comment further.

Representatives from Method and Ecover did not respond Friday morning to requests for comment.

amarotti@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @AllyMarotti

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