I admit I was a fan of bodybuilding legend Rich Gaspari, but likely for different reasons than many of his other followers. You see in those days, Rich was one of the few top bodybuilders who could probably guest pose with a weeks notice.
I believe he went years within 10-15-lbs of his contest weight, as he used blue-collar, fast and furious training methods to create one of the "hardest" physiques of the day. In fact, I'd argue he set the gold standard for being ripped during his Olympia wars with giant Lee Haney.
Besides his training methods, and incredible conditioning, Rich was one of my favorites because he was known for carting around his food, including a portion scale and microwave for cooking - everywhere he traveled. To me he was the ultimate "hyper-obsessive" bodybuilder that was not going to lose a contest placing by being unprepared.
I recently had a chance to speak to Rich about his company, Gaspari Nutrition, and since this brand is one of the hottest on the market today. I trust you'll find our conversation quite interesting.
[ Vince Andrich ] Hi Rich, how are you today? When was your company started and why?
[ Rich Gaspari ] I am great Vince, thanks for asking. You know, it's funny how I started Gaspari Nutrition. It all started back in 1997. I was about to compete in the Night of the Champions. I ended up herniating the disk in my neck causing me to end my career as a bodybuilder. I sat in my bed depressed for 2 months.
I felt I could no longer compete and be a top champion. So I decided to turn the bad into something good and I started my supplement line. It was a long uphill battle with basically no capital to go up against the big companies, but I believed I could do it.
In 1999, I began selling product out of my car and used my mother's garage and basement as my warehouse and office. It was tough, but I believed in my company and I believed in my products - eventually the people would find out.
[ VA ] - I guess with a name like Rich Gaspari, and a reputation for eating like a scientist, you were destined to create a supplement company. So, who started your company and what sort of background do they have?
[ RG ] - After many years as a successful world-class bodybuilder, I looked at the supplement industry and thought that I could bring a better product to today's athlete or anyone who trains in the gym.
[ VA ] - Now we've seen a lot of "brand name" bodybuilders and even actors try their hand at supplements and fail. It seems to me your bodybuilding legacy of staying in top shape and being truly dedicated gives consumers more confidence in your brand. What do you think?
[ RG ] - I'd like to think so, and appreciate all the people who've supported me over the years. Bodybuilding is in my heart and soul, and that keeps me motivated. What can I say - I love what I do? Of course I've had a lot of help along the way.
[ VA ] - Tell us about your key employees. Who is who and what do they do?
[ RG ] - My wife Liz works as VP and Director of Domestic and International Sales, she has been a tremendous asset in the growth of the company having landed some of our best accounts. Long before my wife started working with me, I met Joe Volgey at a gym in my hometown of Edison, NJ. He started by redesigning my logo and my labels, now he works as the VP of Advertising and Marketing.
Shortly thereafter, I met Bruce Kneller - the best product formulator in the industry! He is responsible for most of my product line. A few years ago, I met Joe Babick who was brought in as a consultant for his many years of experience in the industry. Joe is responsible for formulating my best-selling pre-workout product, SuperPump250.
As sales began to grow, I recently brought in Tom Hoops as my National Sales Director. Tom knows every vitamin store and chain in the country! I am very fortunate to have a great team of individuals committed to pushing Gaspari Nutrition to the top of the industry.
One person that has been instrumental in pushing the brand is our National Sales Rep, Mai Tran. Mai handles the Northeast region, but often travels the country doing demos, educating both customers and store managers. And I can't forget about Mike LaManna, he was my first full-time employee who now works as our Shipping Manager. We've added sales reps around the country, look for them in a store near you.
[ VA ] - WOW, I happen to know nearly all of the people you mentioned above, and must say you've attracted several of the industry's most knowledgeable and successful players. But, besides personnel, what separates your company from the rest of the industry?
[ RG ] - Gaspari Nutrition is making a name for itself as the leader in sports nutrition. All of our products are independently tested in clinical studies. In this regard, we are able to back up all of our product claims with tested and proven results.
I believe in never skipping on purity, quality, and potency. I also believe in being an innovator in sports nutrition, coming up with products or using ingredients that no one else has ever used before.
We make products that work.
[ VA ] - Rich, I agree with your statements, and certainly you've earned that great reputation. I know firsthand your products do work, since I use many of them myself. So are there any new and exciting products that you are coming out with soon?
[ RG ] - We are launching Cytolean, our new fat burner at the 2007 Arnold Expo. Sometime this Spring, we hope to launch PlasmaJet, a new NO product with a delivery system never seen before. We are also looking to add a top secret product that will launch at the 2007 Olympia Expo.
[ VA ] - What other plans do you have to help your company grow?
[ RG ] - We have added sales reps around the country to help push the line. By making and giving away hundreds of thousands of samples each month, it has given people an opportunity to "try before you buy!" Once they try the line and see that it works better then anything they have ever used before, they become loyal customers for life. Look at all the testimonials on our website, I can't make that stuff up!
[ VA ] - That's interesting, because I've always thought that testimonials from "real world" athletes are the best. These people represent what most people want to achieve and become great role models for what your brand stands for. That said, have you sponsored any athletes and if so, who have you sponsored? If so, how have they impacted your company?
[ RG ] - To date, Gaspari Nutrition does not have a major male athlete. We made an attempt to sign someone that was perfect for the line, but unfortunately this is America and I'm truly sorry that it didn't work out.
We recently began working with IFBB Pro Tanji Johnson by sponsoring her SuperFITNESS Workshops. We are looking for the right male athlete to represent our brand, but it seems like the competition has signed the few I had in mind.
Quite honestly, the way our company is set-up, we don't have to have a major athlete. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on an athlete, I invest that money into funding independent clinical trials to back up our product claims and the results have been overwhelming.
Now, what do you believe are the best and worst things about the supplement industry?
[ RG ] - The customers! It's great to meet each and every customer that supports the line. The worst, haha - no comment.
[ VA ] - Rich, thanks for your time today, is there anything else you would like to say?
[ RG ] - Being a former bodybuilder, I am very passionate about what I do. Together with my competitive drive and the great team I have assembled, we will work tirelessly until we become the biggest and best supplement company ever known.