After organizing his tasks for the day and communicating with
and managing staff, he usually works for two or three hours
either in his office or at his lab bench.
“I’m just as passionate about my work in the lab as I was on
day one, and I’m in the lab easily 40–50% of the time. I still like
to have my hands on all of our products, and I feel like they’re
each developed for me, by me.”
On the other hand, Tibbs has learned that there are certain
aspects of the work for which he needs the help of others. “For
example,” he explains, “I’ve always felt comfortable with the
chemistry part of our company, but the business side is more
challenging. My approach has been to go with my instincts, but
to also surround myself with smart people who were good at
those areas where I may not be as strong.”
Marketing initiatives are not the only areas where Tibbs’s
company is expanding and exploring. For example, Better Life
recently installed a 60-kilowatt solar power generator for its
factory, and is engineering new ways to increase efficiency and
therefore lower the facility’s power demands.
Better Life is also busy developing new products. “Last year,
Tibbs is inspired and driven by his work and his company’s
mission. “Across the board, we work very hard at making sure
our products not only work better than other green products,”
he says, “but also outperform the traditional chemical products.
And as we continue to grow, it’s really important to keep looking
for new opportunities.”
Eric Stewart is a freelance writer and editor living in
Chemists in the
B.S. PREMEDICAL, BIOLOGY,
CHEMISTRY, TRUMAN STATE
UNIVERSITY, KIRKSVILLE, MO
SCIENTIST”, BETTER LIFE
Kevin Tibbs, co-founder of Better Life, is also a featured chemist
on the ACS College to Career website. To read his full interview,
go to www.acs.org/CollegetoCareer.
How did you find your first chemistry-related
job after you graduated from college?
When I graduated, it was a pretty tight job market, and
I didn’t have the work experience that many employers
wanted to see. One of the places where I did manage to
get an interview was a temporary placement service with a
specific focus on scientific fields. I wasn’t thrilled about the
idea of taking temporary work, but shortly after talking with
them, they let me know about a very interesting job opportunity at Bristol-Myers, which I took.
As it worked out, within six months of starting my tem-
porary assignment, I had a permanent job offer with the
company. In my opinion, it’s important to realize that some
companies use temporary positions as a way to try people
out on a trial basis (with “no strings attached”), which
means that if it’s a good fit on both sides, there might be a
permanent job offer!
Typically, how many days each month do you
spend away from your workplace on travel?
I usually spend between 6 and 10 days per month on travel. One
of the things that takes me out of the office quite a bit is sales.
I’m a guest host on the Home Shopping Network (HSN), where
I periodically present our product line. I also go to various trade
shows and sales presentations across the United States, talking
with buyers about how our products are different, or providing
details on a more technical level regarding formulations.
What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
Do what you love, since you’ll spend half your life doing it! For
example, some people have the type of personality that lets
them thrive when working at the pace of a smaller entrepreneurial organization. Others may be more suited for a large
corporate setting. As a result, it’s worth a little soul-searching to
decide which is best for you. At Better Life, fit is very important—
and we’re very careful to make sure anyone we hire is the right
fit for our company. It’s very fast-paced, and each of our people
has a lot of different responsibilities. Positions aren’t as narrowly
focused as they would be in a much larger company.