Made in Eastern Iowa: Raining Rose and 100 million lip balms a year

Raining Rose, on First Street East in Cedar Rapids, cranks out about 100 million containers of lip balm a year.
Raining Rose, on First Street East in Cedar Rapids, cranks out about 100 million containers of lip balm a year.(KCRG)
Published: Jun. 30, 2016 at 4:20 AM CDT
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For the thousands of drivers who chug past Raining Rose on First Avenue East in Cedar Rapids each day, a glance at the relatively new facility can bring a question.

Many may be aware that Raining Rose cranks out lip balm. But how much?

"We produce north of 100 million lip balms a year," said Mike Wehr, chief operating officer of Raining Rose in Cedar Rapids.

While not all of the business at Raining Rose, Wehr said about 80 percent of the company's products are exactly this. Take the cap off, twist in the Pincer grip, apply to lips, prevent chapping.

"If you get a lip balm from your dentist, your liquor company, your insurance agent or a realtor, there's a good chance it was made here," said Wehr. "Why put your name on a business card when you can put it on a lip balm and put it in peoples' pockets and purses?"

Raining Rose has seen this exponential growth since the Flood of 2008 drove them out of their much smaller facility on Ninth Avenue SE, near the NewBo District.

Now hundreds of employees work in the First Avenue facility, where the production can take place on a 24/7 basis. Wehr said the packaging department also works on a basis of 24 hours a day and five days a week.

"We produce almost 20,000 unique orders last year."

A brisk walk around the Raining Rose operation reveals boxes, stacked upon boxes, of products ready to be shipped. Raining Rose hands the work of actually making the lip balm, the labeling and the packaging. All in house.

Yet it may not resemble the traditional image of a manufacturing facility.

"We've been part of the coolest places to work in different surveys," Wehr said. "This does not look like a manufacturing facility. It's bright, it's clean and we try to our best to allow natural light and make this a place people want to be."

Amid the sharp expansion for Raining Rose are also emerging markets, such as Germany and Mexico.

"We also do lotions, hand sanitizers, bug repellants, any anhydrous products you can think of, which means no water," said Wehr.

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