Back in the 1980s, Jack Owoc was a high-school science teacher who moonlighted writing exposès on shoddy supplements for a local muscle mag. When his readers demanded that he tackle the challenge of making "tested supplements they could trust," Owoc started his own company—and lived in the back.
Fast forward 19 years, and VPX Sports now sets the standard when it comes to rigorous testing and backing up claims with university studies. Jack gave us a candid look at his company, his past, and where he thinks the industry is headed. And just like back in his investigative days, he doesn't pull any punches.
Congratulations to VPX Sports, Bodybuilding.com's supplement company of the month!
In 1993, I opened a retail store called VitaHouse. At the time, I was teaching various science disciplines and didn't have enough money to rent both a place to live and a health food retail store. Therefore, I just lived in the back of my store.
This gave birth to VitaHouse: vitamins in the front, house in the back. VitaHouse sold many different product lines. We were even Eric Hillman's (founder of Europa Sports Products) first customer as a purchaser. Due to some extraordinary circumstances, I decided to create my own supplement line.
I was teaching high school science and also writing diet, supplementation, and training programs for clients. I meticulously documented each client's progress. However, there was one month where none of my clients lost any body fat at all. This was highly unusual, because clients were consistently losing from 4-6 percent body fat per month. As a scientist, when something like this happens you immediately analyze and evaluate the variable that caused the discrepancy.
The variable I changed was the type of egg protein supplement my clients were taking twice per day—this was before whey protein was even on the market. Therefore, I sent the egg protein (we will refer to it as "Bad Egg" brand) out to be tested. This was probably the first time this had ever been done in the supplement industry. The protein assay came back and results showed that it was 90 percent maltodextrin, along with some ash and moisture, and contained no protein whatsoever!
I wrote about the mind-blowing results of Bad Egg in Florida Muscle magazine and exposed this company. Consumers were outraged to learn that the extremely popular brand who produced Bad Egg (a brand that still exists today) was selling completely bogus protein. Ironically, I suspected something was wrong from the beginning, because Bad Egg cost about half as much as a certain Good Egg protein that was yielding great results. The only reason for ever switching the protein I normally used was because the Good Egg protein was on backorder.
There were other incidents I wrote about that involved exposing supplement fraud in our industry; one incident in particular brought myself and my readers to a boiling point. Again, this occurred with an egg protein, but from another company.
My friend, who was highly allergic to milk, asked me to recommend a high-grade egg protein and send it to him in South America, where he played professional basketball. This time I wasn't taking any chances, or so I thought.
I sent him an egg protein under the brand name Med Sport, packaged in a high-end black and gold foil label. At the time, I was thinking if something had Med in the name, and it tasted far better than all of the other egg proteins, it had to be a clean, pure egg white protein. My friend drank the protein and nearly choked to death in the shower! He pounded on the glass for help, and his wife took him to the emergency room, where they saved his life. Consequently, I sent the Med Sport egg protein out to be tested. As you may have guessed, the protein was 100 percent milk protein, which was the reason it tasted so good, and the reason my friend almost died.
I published another article about this incident, along with a copy of the Med Sport lab test results. Readers related with strong emotions to this article, and just several months after this article went to press, Med Sport went out of business. Outraged readers demanded that I produce tested supplements they could trust. At this point, I also realized that the only way to make sure that my rapidly growing client base and friends were going to get safe and legitimate supplements was to develop my own brand and start my own supplement company.
My parents were important in the initial stages and loaned me $2,000 dollars to help get me going. My dad also negotiated my VitaHouse rent down from $600 to $375 per month! It was a heck of a business lesson from day one. He also built the shelves so they could only hold one product facing, to make the store look like it had a great deal of product, and helped man the store until I was able to come back from teaching school and relieve him.
Many of my friends were helpful at different stages, and one of them is still my Operations Manager to this day! He was present throughout the numerous transitions from my original 700-square-foot VitaHouse all the way to the massive 200,000-square-foot facilities that we operate under today. My brother also invested in VPX early on and was able to get a 2.5-times return on his money in just one year. This was special to me; it was during the time of the stock market crash, when everybody was losing their money.
It's been an interesting progression over the past 18 years, with rapid and unending changes and challenges. I created 24 products that generated more than $1 million in sales, like Redline which broke the $100,000,000 sales mark early on. One thing is for sure: It's better to create the future rather than try to predict it. Like a chess game, you always have to be thinking many moves ahead. Consequently, I see myself and VPX/Redline as the leader in this industry in regard to scientific innovations.
We were told by top university researchers that we have more double-blind placebo-controlled sports nutrition studies than all the supplement companies in our industry combined! The science and the ability to create superior products is something we are proud of at VPX. Everything has come full circle in 2012-2013. Just like when I started 18-plus years ago writing diets, supplementation, and exercise protocols, I recently went back to exactly what made me successful in the first place. That is, my team and I just launched VIVO 360°!
VIVO 360° is a nutrition, supplementation and exercise application. However, the game-changing difference between 18 years ago and today is that we have now simultaneously entered into a scientific and technological renaissance. This allows VIVO 360° to tap into a massive community of dietitians, personal trainers, gyms, and progressive online super-structures like Bodybuilding.com to help millions of people on a daily basis. It's a revolutionary concept where everybody is benefiting and winning.
The user has the most sophisticated body re-composition (losing fat while gaining muscle) science in history right at their fingertips on their smart phone and computer. The user picks his or her foods and supplements and has more than 400 video exercises to choose from on their smart phone. This then allows the VIVO 360° program to generate the most cutting-edge body redesign protocol ever developed.
The program has far greater compliance for myriad reasons. You use VIVO 360° on your smart phone for everything. If you miss a meal, VIVO 360° recalculates and inputs a supplement for you so you don't fall off track. A second reason is convenience. If you need a meal replacement and you have delicious Protein Rush drinks and Zero Impact Bars to choose from, compliance and success skyrocket! Also, you pick the meals, supplements, and training program. If you pick it, you have no excuse not to stick with it!
In the past, trainers and dietitians have always shoved "diet" foods down the client's throat. And, as you will learn when you read my book, Meltdown, all "diets" have one thing in common: a 100 percent failure rate. Community support on a site like Bodybuilding.com is also an integral component of success. When all the pieces of the puzzle are properly put into place, success rates go through the roof, but the degree of success experienced also takes on a whole new level.
Redline Energy is always a phenomenal seller. We recently started doing direct-to-store Distributing here in Florida and are rapidly taking over shelf space in all of the convenience stores and gas stations, and bringing on new C&G Franchises at a record pace.
On the Sports Nutrition side of our business, our revolutionary new Carbonx is making a splash among the CrossFit and endurance athlete demographics. A significant amount of R&D went into developing this product, and it is the first product to utilize two of the most potent scientific carbohydrate inventions: Carbonx Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin (CHBCD) and Carbonx; Hydroxypropyl Distarch Phosphate (CHDP). We are extremely excited for the future of carbohydrate supplementation!
We currently do not sponsor any athletes. However, this does not mean we are not open to it. If there is an athlete that feels they fit the image and vision of VPX, we would love to hear from them. Tweet me: @VPXRedlineCEO.
NO-Shotgun MHF-1 is a university-proven product that provides results. It contains more efficacious ingredients than all the "hyped" pre-workouts do these days. It provides real results when used during your workout. Plus, it contains protein and amino acids to supercharge muscle growth.
We entered our Redline Xtreme Machine in what is billed as the most watched and greatest racing spectacle in the world: the Indy 500. The "500" boasts 400,000 local fans and more than 200 million worldwide viewers. It was a great experience being on the track with greats like the late Dan Wheldon, who won the Indy 500 in 2011, Danica Patrick, Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, and our own driver, Tomas Scheckter. It was cool beating big names like Danica and some of the legends at Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing. "Sulli" and KV Racing were amazing to work with. Racing the Redline Xtreme Machine helped promote the brand a great deal in mainstream markets. Sales of Redline in the Chicago region increased by 294 percent!
I don't want to be over-dramatic or negative, but the question opened the door. Right now I think the supplement industry is imploding on itself. In some aspects it's growing, but the fringe and outlier supplement companies are constantly drawing negative attention to the industry. Unfortunately it is this less than 1/4 percent of criminal-type behavior that gets 100 percent of the negative attention in the media. The CRN and NPA have done a nice job by immediately confronting the media when they spew mindless and untrue nonsense about the dietary supplement industry into the air. Unfortunately, they do not have the same reach as the general media.
I would like to see our industry collectively file suit against media organizations every time they purposely report false information and cause our industry damage. Any time the media causes damage to our industry, we should seek to be made whole by holding them accountable and making them pay restitution. The media is always saying that the supplement industry is unregulated. If this were a true statement, then why did VPX spend millions of dollars on our 200,000 square foot facilities to become GMP compliant? Why does VPX have a QC and QA department with six HPLC machines and science labs that look like you just walked 20 years into the future? The reason is because the supplement industry is tightly regulated and our industry has less adverse event reports in our 25 years of existence than the drug companies do in one single day!
We are regulated and just like Ryan and Jeremy DeLuca and others from Bodybuilding.com have witnessed, our facilities are immaculate and more advanced in some aspects than many drug companies. We have also recently decided to spread the love and are now even helping out competing companies by opening up our bar, concentrate, liquid capsule, micotab-plus-liquid capsule, powder, protein, drink, and shot manufacturing to key players within the industry.
My vision is to draw positive attention to the industry and expand the breadth and scope of this industry. Supplement industry greats like Bill Phillips, Eric Hillman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scott Connelly, Jeff Everson, Rehan Jalali and Vince Andrich did many amazing things to positively impact the growth of supplementation.
The dietary supplement industry increased tenfold during the time of Bill Phillips. EAS aligned itself with the NFL's Denver Broncos and many mainstream people began to take meal replacement packets like Met-Rx and Myoplex. This was an amazing era and far different from all these clowns today who became wealthy by selling concentrates that cause people to lose muscle.
I look at the current concentrate craze and the convicted felons who profited from this as the darkest time in our industry's history. I cannot understand how the consumer could be so foolish as to blatantly disregard all the muscle-building science by taking under-dosed, muscle-destroying pre-workouts.
We need to have another Renaissance, where we increase the breadth of our industry tenfold once again! I intend to be the leader and propel our future with a powerful vision with the release of my new book, Meltdown, the launch of VIVO 360°, and a whole new era of highly-effective supplementation. We need to self-police our industry and develop a way to put pressure on and eliminate persons and companies who purposely spike their products with amphetamines, steroids, and other illicit substances, for example sildenafil and tadalafil (Viagra and Cialis analogs).
Personally, I'd like to see the drug companies protect their interest and come after these individuals and bogus companies like they have in the past with persons selling fake growth hormone under the parent company's trademark and label.
Trade shows like the Bodybuilding.com Fit Expo, the Arnold, FIBO, and the Olympia are a foundational marketing and sales strategy of VPX. We always want to hear from and interact with our fans firsthand, and no better environment exists than a trade show or expo. We welcome everyone to stop by a VPX booth to enjoy a cold Redline or Protein Rush, or take a picture with the Redline Xtreme Girls.
VPX TV Inteviews Team Redline Xtreme Models
Watch The Video - 2:02
We also love to engage in discussions with the public at-large regarding their favorite stacking protocols and latest university research-backed scientific breakthroughs by VPX that are peer-reviewed and published in prestigious scientific journals. Of course, there is nothing like discussing these university-proven products and then receiving free samples of VPX's latest cutting edge product innovations like the Jack Stack, Carbonx, Redline Ultra Harcore, 12 Gauge Shotgun, Medivin, Power Shock, and Meltdown.
At this year's Olympia people swarmed the VPX booth from all sides waiting patiently in line to try VIVO 360° (vivo-360.com). Check it out and let your favorite Bodybuilding.com rep know if you think they should offer it on their site! We also hosted our VPX-U Science Summit with the top research Ph.D.'s in the country. I hosted the event along with Dr. Jose Antonio in an open forum style which allowed for attendee interaction and participation.
Q: How long have you been sponsored/involved with VPX? What made you join the team?
10 years! The quality and innovation of the products—the science, not hype!
How important is it for athletes to earn sponsorships?
It helps to be a part of a team and have the support and knowledge of a great company like VPX.
When training, what is your favorite VPX supplement? How do you use it?
Shotgun/Synthesize before and after training and SRO Zero Carb protein to help me reach my daily needs.
- 2 scoops of SRO Zero Carb Protein as soon as I wake up
- 1 scoop of Shotgun 20 min before workout
- 1 scoop of Synthesize right after workout
- 2 scoops of SRO Zero Carb 15 min after workout
If you weren't a VPX-affiliated athlete, would you still buy its products?
VPX treats its customers with both respect and courtesy. Although I was a sponsored athlete for 7 years, I am not currently a VPX athlete and cannot imagine using other supplement companies' products. I've seen the manufacturing process and the research that goes behind every product—nothing but the best! It's backed by university studies and science.
The supplement industry is rife with ineffective products. How do you know VPX's products work?
I have seen the results firsthand! I'm a 46-year-old father of five and have been a Police SWAT Officer for 23 years. Since my association with VPX, I have seen my physique continue to make great improvements. I look and feel better now than I did 10 years ago!
How has being sponsored by VPX helped your career in the industry?
VPX helped my team and I win The 911 Fitness Challenge twice, crushing the competition and setting a fat loss and muscle gain record. I have appeared in a National VPX/REDLINE television ad, numerous workout videos, been featured on the cover of magazines and in countless print ads in every bodybuilding and fitness magazine over the last 10 years.
Is there anything else you care to share about VPX? Any good inside stories you'd like to tell?
I have known the CEO/CSO of VPX, Jack Owoc for about 20 years. In the early years of the company I saw his drive and commitment to make the best products in the industry and succeed. I used to laugh at him and criticized his products because I tried and used many different products from different companies with no results except wasting my money.
In 2002, I finally submitted and tried his line, and he made me a believer. VPX is more than a supplement company to me. It's family!
With a question like this, you're setting me up here for a war with my competitors. OK, I guess I'll take the bait. VPX is a premium supplement company where science is at the forefront of everything we do. Testing and studies are nonstop at our headquarters in an effort to bring to market the most cutting-edge muscle, performance, and appearance-enhancing supplements possible.
VPX stands out from the rest of the supplement industry in numerous ways. The primary reasons are that we produce our own products and operate in three super-high-end, state-of-the-art facilities totaling more than 205,000 square feet. We produce products with scientific manufacturing knowledge that has been gained over a 15-year period and close to 20 years worth of studying and sourcing raw materials from around the world. Competitors just don't have these types of resources to draw from.
In the rare instance when a company makes its own products like VPX does, that company has the option to go way beyond what other companies can do to develop a flawless supplement. Competitors just don't have this option.
For example, if you want to flavor a product, you may get three or four attempts to approve samples by an outside manufacture. At VPX, there are instances when we conducted hundreds of taste tests on one single product. We have an unorthodox style at VPX, where I open my doors to my entire staff every single day. The wheels of innovation never stop, and we allow nothing to get in the way of research and development.
For example, when Ryan and Jeremy DeLuca came to visit us, people from our lab would continuously interrupt us to taste and test product samples that are in the final stages of R&D. It doesn't matter who I am in a meeting with, VPX's R&D team is allowed to come in and interrupt, because constant improvement is the backbone of our company! If you visit us, don't be surprised if we ask you to take a product sample along with four blood draws to evaluate the effectiveness of our latest and greatest.
Again, I have to re-state that companies that manufacture their own products like VPX have the ability to go way beyond what other companies are capable of. Combine this with the intense passion and unprecedented science that VPX has running through our veins, and you can see why we are the most influential company in our industry.
Our biggest weakness is profitability, because it takes a great deal of money to do what we do at the extreme level at which we do it. If you look at NO-Shotgun for example, it's backed by three university studies: two at Baylor and one at Florida State University. The studies show NO-Shotgun increases muscle gene proteins up to five times (5X) normal and yields 18 times (18X) the muscle DNA (the blueprint code to build more muscle cells) in just 28 days! Furthermore, strength and lean muscle increased dramatically, and NO-Shotgun was proven not to be associated with any negative side effects. To create and meticulously test a product this great takes money. This is why it hurts when I see consumers getting their wallets and muscle jacked when consuming non-science-based, ineffective, muscle-destroying pre-workout concentrates.
The cool thing is that we have now opened our manufacturing up to third-party vendors. Now our competitors have access to the same quality, flavoring, and cutting-edge raw materials that we use. Part of my Christian faith is being aware that it is in lifting others up that God will lift you up. Further, the only way to true happiness is by helping others. If you receive a gift you feel pretty good, but when you give a gift you feel great!
VPX is now offering the manufacturing gift to all and spreading the love, with the exception of the scammers in the industry who desire to rip off consumers.
All of our raw materials are received into the warehouse, quarantined, and then tested for efficacy to ensure that we only provide the end-consumer with the best product possible.
VPX has developed a robust quality program in keeping with adherence to 21 CFR 111. Our quality system ensures that all raw materials and packaging components are procured only through approved vendors and upon receipt go through a standardized inspection process.
Raw materials are sampled and taken to the quality control lab for analysis. Our analysis of each ingredient is conducted by tests on several levels; first through our high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) units that confirm the identity and purity levels of the ingredient; and second, the physical characteristics of the compound are verified through our infrared spectroscopy (IR) machine. Once the test results meet our set release specifications and the supplier's certificate of analysis, the ingredient is released and can be utilized within manufacturing.
Maintaining this high level of testing ensures that every VPX product is manufactured to its intended design and that we continually produce products that meet and exceed our customers' expectations.
I personally spend countless hours each day researching literature and performing tests on new ingredients. In addition, we have an in-house laboratory and a team of scientists that are tasked with always staying up-to-date on the latest studies, literature, and ingredient info. Science won't guide our future; science is our future!
VPX also has funded studies that have been performed by the leading sports nutrition scientists in the world. These include studies performed at Baylor University, the College of New Jersey, the University of Southern Maine and Florida State University. As of now, there are at least a dozen studies that have been published or are in progress. VPX has product-specific studies on Redline Xtreme, Redline Princess, Zero Carb Protein, Protein Rush, NO-Shotgun, and NO-Synthesize. There is no company that has a dedication and commitment to science like VPX!
Thanks to the fans and consumers, Bodybuilding.com for creating such a great site for easy purchase of VPX products, and anyone who has shown VPX and me some extra love over the years such as AMI, Natural Muscle, RPK, Planet Muscle, and Status.