When Lee Labrada stepped offstage for the last time of his legendary bodybuilding career, he could have done anything he wanted within the fitness industry. But to Lee, his next move was a no-brainer. Lee desired to give back to his beloved sport by providing people with high-quality supplementation that would help them excel in bodybuilding, as well as live a healthier life in general - something that wasn't as easily accessible during his career.
In 1995 Lee realized his calling, and Labrada Nutrition was born. Although his bodybuilding career came to an end, his legacy was just beginning. Lee vowed to make Labrada the top supplement company in the business and to provide nothing less than the best to his customers.
With top products like Lean Body and Super Charge, it shouldn't be a surprise that the Labrada brand rose quickly to stand among the best and most popular supplement companies in the world. New products like HICA-Max and Stim-Force are making a huge impact today. It's evident that Labrada Nutrition is committed to a high standard of excellence and will remain among the best for a long time to come.
Bodybuilding.com had the tremendous opportunity to talk to the IFBB Hall of Famer and 2011 Ben Weider Lifetime Achievement Award recipient about a variety of topics regarding his brand's climb to success. Lee now has a new award he can add to his already impressive trophy case: Bodybuilding.com's Supplement Company of the Month.
You are known as one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time. You could have done anything after retiring from competition. What led you to enter into the supplement industry?
Well, as a professional bodybuilder I worked with some of the largest supplement companies in the world, including Weider. Something a lot of people may not know or remember is that I also helped put Met-Rx on the map. I was the athlete they used to penetrate the bodybuilding market and to help Met-Rx become recognized as a bodybuilding meal replacement.
I gained a lot of experience working with these companies, but I thought there were some things I could do better. So in 1995 I launched Labrada Nutrition, because I felt since I had been in the trenches that a lot of bodybuilders and consumers could relate to me. And they can, because my products are designed by bodybuilders, for bodybuilders.
What obstacles did you come across during the process of starting Labrada Nutrition?
Of course there are challenges in the industry itself, as well as everyday business challenges. Since we were a new company, there was the challenge of barrier to entry, or the challenge of going up against competitors with deeper pockets. You have to work very hard to establish yourself. It takes capital, and in the beginning there were times we were stretched financially to say the least. You also have to market the products and when you're new it takes extra effort to show that they are quality.
It was tough to find manufacturers which would meet our strict quality standards. Unfortunately some products out there don't have the quality. I was bound and determined that any consumer who purchased any of my products would be satisfied. So the manufacturers were told "we're going to test through a third party so we know the products contain exactly what the label says." That didn't make us too popular with some of the manufacturing companies, but that was how we wanted to do it.
Did you have any idea that the Labrada brand would be as successful as it is or did it surpass even your own expectations?
I will tell you the success is all based on the acceptance of our products and the trust we have from our customers, so let's give credit where it is due. The success of the Labrada brand is because of our Labrada consumers. I do feel we are one of the best, if not the best in the market when it comes to quality and the assurance that our customers get what they pay for. We ensure that the label says everything the product contains, and that our customers know exactly what they're getting. Yes, the company has been successful and it has exceeded my expectations, but with that said, I also believe the best is yet to come.
Someone may be reading about Labrada Nutrition for the first time. What do you want them to know about your company?
I want them to know first and foremost, that the Labrada products they choose to take are products they can trust and depend on. Secondly, I want them to know that we are much more than a supplement company. We are also big on education. If you go to our Website or our Facebook page, you will see that there is a lot of useful information on training, nutrition and motivation. That along with our products will help our consumers get in the best shape of their lives.
We even do a 12-week Lean Body Challenge. This is something we have done for the past 10 years. Winners get to fly to Houston, Texas, to train with me as well as a session with world-renowned nutritionist, Keith Klein. So it's a great community and we show that it's about more than selling products, but also about increasing education.
In your eyes, what are the best and worst aspects of the supplement industry?
The best part about the industry is that there are great companies and great individuals who are hard at work to come up with the next great breakthrough in terms of natural muscle building and fat-burning supplements. Obviously that is great because it gives people an opportunity to use those products and meet their goals. There have been some huge breakthroughs in supplements like creatine, beta-alanine, and HICA. Knowing there are people working to improve health and fitness is the greatest part of the sports nutrition industry.
The downside of this industry is that because it is highly unregulated, it attracts a lot of fly-by-night companies that compromise integrity and quality. These companies can care less about the consumer and the products they sell.
Is there any news you would like to share with our readers and your customers?
Well on a personal note, I was honored to have been awarded the Ben Weider Lifetime Achievement Award by the IFBB; that was a great honor, especially since there are so many great people who do great work for the industry and the sport. The fact that I was singled out for that award is a huge honor.
On a company level, we've had a number of really cool product introductions lately including HICA-Max, which works by increasing protein synthesis (anabolism), and decreasing muscle protein breakdown (catabolism). Its mechanism of action has been suggested as an independent mTOR signal transducer, which is a "cell-signaler" for muscle protein synthesis. It is backed up by clinical studies so we're very excited. We are the first to market it.
We also have another new product called Stim-Force. It's a pre-workout concentrate but unlike a lot of other pre-workout concentrates on the market, Stim-force contains Glycocarn which is a patented Nitric Oxide synthesizing agent. Glycocarn is far more effective in elevating blood nitric oxide levels than ordinary Arginine, and has been shown in studies to increase nitric oxide levels 55% greater than a placebo.
Please take this opportunity to speak freely to your customers and to the people that help make Labrada such a successful brand.
Well I would just like to thank all of our loyal customers who have supported the Labrada brand over the last 16 years. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with all of them, and I look forward to being able to continue doing so.
I also want to let people know that regardless of what kind of shape or condition you're in, you can always improve and we're there to help you. Whether it's by the products that you can trust or by the education that we provide; we want to help you reach all of your goals.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.