Supplement Company Of The Month: BPI Sports

It's not easy to make a name in the crowded supplement market. But having a four-time Mr. Olympia back your products is a great place to start!

Many big-time supplement companies sponsor a diverse stable of elite athletes. Others only work with a couple of select big names. BPI, which stands for Be Powerful Incorporated, didn't see fit to sponsor anyone for its first three years of existence.

Then, in 2012, the company changed course and signed a doozy: four-time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler. If you're going to have only one, you might as well make it a great one.

BPI may be young, but as its relationship with Cutler shows, it's come a long way since 2009. Along with its much-loved flagship pre-workout product 1MR, it now offers strength, fat-burning, recovery, and a wide range of other products to over 80 countries. Co-founder and vice president James Grage gave us an inside glimpse at this breakout brand's meteoric rise.

Please tell our readers how your company started.

What started as two people, a thousand square feet, and an IOU for a pocketful of cash has quickly become the fastest-growing and premier sports nutrition company on the planet. Our headquarters in South Florida now encompasses more than 53,000 square feet and it's growing. Adjacent to our office space is a complete commercial-size BPI gym, which we built for our athletes and team members.

We now utilize four distribution hubs nationwide and count sister brands IMAGE Sports, EXT Sports, Pro-Nutra, Brain Pharma and the 4x Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler Elite Series as part of our corporate umbrella. We became experts in branding, marketing, and distribution. We have allowed ourselves the opportunity to dominate our respective markets.

Our evolution has been outright insane and has garnered us the recognition and respect of our peers everywhere. In less than three months of our partnership with GNC we were awarded the "Rising Star of The Year" award. A little more than one year later, they followed this up with "The Brand of The Year." They followed that with the "Partner of the Year" award.

This consistent flow of solid, hard-hitting, and result-oriented products has allowed us to continue to add the finest retail and wholesale partnerships to our ever-growing portfolio. Add to this the fact that BPI Sports' unique form of cutting-edge, hardcore, and mainstream products allowed us to enter the global markets where we presently hang our hat in more than 83 different countries.

What made you decide to start your own supplement company?

My business partner, who is also my closest friend, and I were looking for the chance to take all our experience and ideas and create a line of products we believed in, we would want to use ourselves, and which we believed would make a difference for our customers.

In short, we wanted to make better products for better results. That exact saying was one of our original taglines. In the beginning, however, we were both broke, and back then our goals were shorter term. We wanted to pay our rent, keep the lights on, and provide for our kids. Things have far surpassed our original vision.

Who are some important people who helped you in the beginning?

From the very start, I would have to say Eric Hillman and Jeff Compton of Europa Sports, Jeremy Deluca (co-founder of, Chris Scardino of American Media/Weider Publications, and Tom Dowd of GNC. Last, but certainly not least—everyone at Team BPI. Our core unit of BPI soldiers is second to none.

Tell us a little more about yourself and your background in the industry.

I started out in the Sports Nutrition industry about 14 years ago, as a California Sales Rep for what was then a well-established sports nutrition brand. Later I worked as a National Sales Manager for another company, where I had the first opportunity to try my hand at packaging redesigns and advertising.

Later, I went to work for Weider Publications (now American Media) as rep for Muscle & Fitness and FLEX magazines, as well as working on the Mr. Olympia show in Las Vegas. While at AMI, I was promoted to Head of Business Development before eventually leaving to start BPI.

I've had the opportunity to see my fair share of companies do things well, along with the not so well. I felt that between D and I, we could do it better than anyone else. In the beginning, we had to beg for purchase orders and borrow on credit to get things going. We had to work our way up from the bottom. Eventually we built it up to what it is today, a fearsome umbrella of brands.

Your pre-workout 1MR has a great following. Is it your top product? What are some others?

1MR is our flagship product. This is the product that got us on the map and ever since there's been no stopping us. 1MR has withstood the test of time and is a product that everyone in the industry knows. We've had great success with some newer releases such as B4, a once daily fat burner, and our soon-to-be top pre-workout Pump-HD. These are the products everyone is talking about, and the ones you'll see in mainstream fitness magazines like Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Muscle & Fitness, SHAPE and many others.

We constantly re-evaluate our ever-expanding product line to ensure we offer the best of the best. We also strive to be revolutionary and not copy what the other guys are doing. So, of course we have something in the works. You'll just have to wait and see the next best thing in sports nutrition. For those of you who think you know what's next, you haven't seen anything yet!

You have Jay Cutler on your team. Has it helped having Mr. Olympia as a rep? How do sponsored athletes impact your company?

We've never before signed an athlete, and it was going to take someone extremely special, talented, and marketable to even get us to consider moving the needle on this. When the opportunity presented itself, we decided Cutler would be the perfect addition to our team, and we were right. He's able to draw thousands of people out of their homes, out of their jobs, to stand in line just to say hello. Cutler is the most genuine and humble celebrity I have ever met, and he allows us to market our brands in various outlets like never before. He stands behind our brands, rather than in front of them.

Let's say a customer is just starting a fitness regimen, can only afford one product, and comes to you. Which one supplement do you recommend?

It's really difficult to pick just one because they all work so well together. But, if I absolutely had to, I'd go with Pump-HD, our newest product in the pre-workout category. This formula offers so much more than what people have come to expect in a pre-workout powder.

Our research and development team invested a lot of time in the creation of this product. We incorporated true muscle-building ingredients into Pump-HD, along with recovery agents, electrolytes for rehydration, and an ultra-concentrated energy and focus matrix. We were excited to release Pump-HD and knew it would create a buzz in the industry.

It's a best-in-class pre-workout for enhanced muscle building and maximum athletic output. I feel it is absolutely stronger and more concentrated than anything on the market.

What are the best and worst things about the supplement industry?

As of late, the best part has been the shift and growth in the target market. Up until now, sports nutrition supplements have been geared toward bodybuilding and pro athletes. But now, the reach has expanded to people who participate in recreational workouts and sports. Furthermore, these products have been marketed to mostly a male population.

This, too, has changed drastically to include both males and females as equal users of sports nutrition supplements. Another significant area of growth has been in the youth population. These drastic changes in the demographics of the sports performance supplement users allowed us to see explosive growth, both domestically and abroad, in just a couple years.

Now, the worst part of the supplement industry? Well that's a tough one, considering we've only experienced great success.

How important are the trade shows and expos to the growth of your company?

The shows are extremely important. It's a chance for us to strengthen our existing customer relationships as well as build new ones. We see a lot of familiar faces but even more new ones at each tradeshow we attend.

There's nothing better than allowing your consumer a chance to see, touch, and taste each of our products. These tradeshows are all about our consumers and explaining to them why our products are perfect for anyone and everyone in any fitness capacity.

Ethics are important to supplements buyers. What does your company do to ensure standards?

Our products are developed utilizing the most trusted and cutting edge science, and are manufactured under GMP (good manufacturing practices). This combination assures high ethics, which translate into high-quality product that supplement buyers can consistently rely on and trust.

Our entire team uses our products to reach their own individual fitness goals, including myself. I'm particular about what I put in my body. I will only take the best of the best.

The world is growing and getting smaller at the same time. How much do you reach into multinational markets to promote BPI?

We've placed great emphasis on expanding our international reach. Sports nutrition is not just a huge thing here in the U.S. It's a booming industry around the world. We advertise in 83 different countries and target our message to each one. It just wouldn't make sense to ignore our large international fan base.

Sponsored Athlete: Jay Cutler, 4-Time Mr. Olympia

How long have you been involved with BPI? What made you join the team?

After my injury, I took time away from the gym. That gave me the opportunity to develop a game plan that best suited me, my family, and all of the people who have supported me over the years. I had a few meetings with my good friend Kevin DeHaven, Dedicated Nationwide Sales Rep for BPI. In turn, he was able to set up some follow-up discussions with the CEO of BPI Sports, and boom! Things just steamrolled from there.

There's a mutual undying passion for the sports-performance industry between BPI and myself, which made this the ideal partnership. I signed with BPI, the fastest-growing sports-nutrition company in the entire country, in September 2012. This unique business and entrepreneurial partnership has allowed me to get involved at a level that I've never been exposed to before. I consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate to be their first athlete.

When training, what is your favorite BPI supplement? How do you use it?

It's difficult to say since there are so many great products in the line! Build-HD is the main staple within my training regimen. I always take one scoop after my workouts for its muscle building properties.

When training for competitions, obviously my main focus is burning fat so I use RoxyLean, one capsule typically in the morning with my cardio or even the afternoon. Last, I'm a big believer in Blox for my recovery and muscle performance. I take a scoop of it before, during and after training.

Has your performance in the gym improved using BPI's supplements?

I have been working on my comeback for a year now and I've never felt stronger or healthier. The supplements I've been taking, such as 1MR, Build-HD, and Blox, have been key elements in my preparation and improvement. I can't wait to show everyone the progress I've made since they last saw me on the Olympia stage.

How has being sponsored by BPI helped your career in the industry?

BPI has given me tremendous exposure and recognition in print, online, and in other media outlets. Working in a partnership, and not just as another athlete or a face for the brands, BPI has allowed me to help design, formulate and market my own line of sports nutrition products. This is something I always dreamed about doing.

I've learned many things through this partnership. It's been a great experience thus far and I hope to strengthen this relationship for years to come.

Is there anything else you care to share about BPI? Any good inside stories you'd like to tell?

I've spent a lot of time at BPI Headquarters in South Florida, and what I love about the staff is that almost everyone is involved in some sort of active training. It's not uncommon to see staff working out during their breaks in the BPI gym. It's just great seeing a company and staff all so active. Not only do they work in the industry, but they believe in it and live it.