Bodybuilding.com: When was your company started?
Jayson Kroner: NOW Foods officially opened for business in 1968.
[ BB ] Why was your company started?
JK: Prior to opening, NOW's founder owned a retail health food store called Health House. One day it was brought to his attention that a local supermarket was selling the same products he was at a lower price, due mainly to their size and purchasing power.
It was at that moment that NOW was born, as a way to provide exceptional products to hard-working health food retailers without having to charge a fortune.
[ BB ] Who was your company started by, and what sort of background do they have?
JK: NOW was started by one of the true pioneers of the natural products industry - Elwood Richard, a physical chemist with a background in calorimetry, radiochemistry and free-radicals.
As a young man in the 1950's and early 60's (prior to opening NOW) he helped run the family's food manufacturing business, Fearn Soya. A few years later he opened a retail health food store called Health House.
Throughout his career in the health products industry, Elwood has been involved in movements, legislation, developments and scientific advancements that have significantly impacted the integrity of today's products.
The funniest thing about this, is that a great number of supplement users still benefit from his positive efforts, without even realizing it.
[ BB ] Tell us about your key employees, who are they, and what do they do?
JK: We have over 600 employees and every one of them is key.
Some are in the spotlight more than others, though. Al Powers is the company President, Rob Martin, the company's Chief Financial Officer, Michael Lelah, our technical director and Jim Emme serves as Chief Operations Executive.
Elwood Richard retired as President on January 1st but still sits at the head of NOW's board of directors. He's also actively involved in supporting the relationships we have with our retail customers.
[ BB ] What separates your company from the rest of the industry?
JK: We're unconventional in so many ways. The most obvious would have to be in the quality of our products. We're seriously obsessed with quality.
A lot of this has to do with how many of us use supplementation as part of our day to day life. When you put yourself in the shoes of your consumers, it just has a natural way of driving you to produce products that you'd be comfortable taking yourself.
We actually spend more money each year on quality assurance than we do on marketing, advertising and promotions combined. Most manufacturers would be dead in the water after 2 fiscal quarters if they tried this. But it's worked well for NOW. We remind ourselves that we're not in the business of producing better ads. We're in the business of producing better lives.
We're strong advocates of the natural products industry, and continue to battle for the consumer's right to take supplements without FDA regulation. Many don't realize this, but legislators are trying to pass a bill that would make it almost impossible to purchase many of today's most popular supplements.
| Quality Assurance!
Did you know that Now Foods spends more money each year on quality assurance than they do on marketing, advertising and promotions combined. Anyone interested in voicing their concerns can read more about this and get involved by clicking here.
Our advocates continue to press congress to support the right to purchase and use them at will.
What really sets NOW apart is the people. It's versatility unlike anything I've ever been a part of. The employees genuinely care about what they do, and take success very personally. Most people don't have the luxury of seeing scientists walking around their cafeteria. We do, and it's completely normal. Status takes a back seat to teamwork when you work for NOW, because we understand that what we do, what we all do, affects lives.
[ BB ] Are there any new and exciting products that you are coming out with soon?
JK: Over the past few months we've released some of our most exciting products, and have many more in the works.
CLA Extreme is just one example of the direction we're moving in.
We're planning on releasing a Carnitine Creatinate later this summer, along with an enteric coated CoEnzyme B-Complex, a biologically identical Vitamin E, effervescent Ester-C and a number of others. Trust me, they'll be worth the wait.
[ BB ] What other plans do you have to help your company grow?
JK: You can spend your entire professional life trying to grow a business, but when you get right to the heart of the matter, your products and services are what ultimately define the paths ahead. Still, we continue to advertise modestly, and have a number of industry experts who endorse our products.
Our co-op efforts have helped us foster strong relationships with our retailers, as well as the literature we provide. We're very active in the trade shows, industry sponsored events and advocacy groups. We've also been working very hard to make our website one of the most user friendly and informative in the industry.
[ BB ] Have you sponsored any athletes and if so, who have you sponsored? If so, how have they impacted your company?
JK: Not yet, but it's something that we've definitely discussed. Many members of our own staff are competitive athletes in their own regard. In some circles, that's the best representation a company like ours will ever need to make.
For example, Elwood Richard, the company's founder (who's now in his 70's) regularly plays basketball and is an avid distance biker. John Urban, Manager of our Sports division, is a competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter.
Amy Kosowski, one of our Certified Nutritionists and researchers, has participated in multi-state long distance rides. Marc Williams, a member of our MIS department, has competed in both the Chicago and Boston Marathons. I'm really into mountain biking. So there's certainly no shortage of 'practice what you preach' here.
[ BB ] What supplement combination would you recommend for someone just getting started?
JK: That depends on a lot of things. Age, goals, body composition and other factors need to be taken into consideration before diving into piles of pills and powders.
New athletes, especially those starting off at a young age, should stick to the basics. A good whey protein and multivitamin/mineral formula are definitely recommended to help repair tissue and bridge the massive nutritional gaps present in so many of today's diets.
Our whey protein isolate was actually just voted "Best Sports Supplement" by Whole Foods magazine. Essential fatty acids are important too, especially in light of how poor so many diets have become.
[ BB ] What do you believe is the best thing about the supplement industry?
JK: Dietary supplements provide users with the ability to take control of our wellness, appearance and life span. It's a freedom that users and non-users alike often take for granted.
[ BB ] The worst?
JK: There are a lot of people in this industry who have absolutely no idea what they're doing, and could care less about the health of the customers they 'serve'.
This is what gives our industry a bad name. Not the naysayers, the FDA or even the handful of people who have had adverse reactions to supplements. Certain manufacturers need to take responsibility for their actions.
[ BB ] Is there anything else you would like to say?
JK: We know that there's a lot of confusion involved in purchasing supplements. We use them too. Do yourself a favor. If you want to get one that's worth it's weight, don't base your decision on how good the model on the label looks.
That's just insane, and it never gave anyone a better body or quality of life. As a person who wasted more than my fair share of money over the years, here's some free advice: If you want a good supplement, do your homework. Investigate.
Ask questions about the manufacturer's facility, their experience, education and their pro-industry affiliations. There are good, reputable manufacturers out there who sincerely care and believe in the quality of their products. We just like to think that we're leading the way.