Hy Cite: The Recipe for Growth

by Barbara Seale

Click here to order the February 2015 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Company Profile

  • Founded: 1959
  • Headquarters: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Executive: Chairman and CEO Erik Johnson
  • Products: Cookware, air and water filtration systems, juice extractors, dinnerware, cutlery

Family-owned direct seller Hy Cite Corp. is a master chef when it comes to cooking up growth. They do it by actively and enthusiastically embracing a community that many direct selling companies seek to engage: the Latino community.

Peter O. Johnson, Founder

Peter O. Johnson, Founder

Erik Johnson, Chairman & CEO

Erik Johnson, Chairman & CEO

Hy Cite’s engagement constitutes far more than simply speaking Spanish. Some 90 percent of its market and distributors are Hispanic. This demographic grew from three Hispanic distributors—two on one coast and one on the other—who were extremely successful in the early 1990s. Their legacy plus the commitment of Hy Cite managers to listen closely to the needs of distributors and consumers has resulted in a company that has grown by more than 15 percent average annual growth since the year 2000. In fact, except for the two toughest years in that economic period, growth has been closer to 20 percent.

Hy Cite was founded in 1959 as the Hope Chest Club (HCC) by Dave Johnson, but it was Peter O. Johnson, an unrelated college student, who carried the company into the future. Peter paid his college expenses by selling the company’s products to young women who collected its cookware, china and flatware as they anticipated their marriages. After college Peter worked for another cookware company for a short time to learn more about the cookware business. He was a fast learner, and he rejoined HCC as a partner in 1961. Dave eventually left the business, but Peter carried on. He grew the business and evolved it as the country’s culture changed and the “hope chest” market shrank. He expanded the original vision, and with that expansion came a name change.

Some 90 percent of Hy Cite’s market and distributors are Hispanic.

“As folklore has it, we realized we needed a different name, but we had a lot of letterhead that said HCC,” explains Hy Cite’s Chairman and CEO Erik Johnson, Peter’s son. “Things were tight right then, but the top managers had ‘high sights’ for the future. So they had a meeting and came up with a name that would let them maintain the corporate brand: HCC—Hy Cite Corporation.”

Erik wasn’t in that meeting in 1974. He hadn’t even had his first of many part-time jobs at the company: working in the warehouse during the summer at age 12. Throughout high school and college he continued to work in most departments, but, like his father, he went to work at another company after college. He spent five years at Procter & Gamble. Then he returned to his family business in 1995 as a project manager focused on improving its business systems. When Peter retired in 2000 Erik was named Chairman and CEO. He and his brother Peter, Hy Cite’s President and COO, continue to run the company.

Andrea Legarreta, a well-known TV personality in the Hispanic market, is the Brand Ambassador for the Royal Prestige® line of cookware.Andrea Legarreta, a well-known TV personality in the Hispanic market, is the Brand Ambassador for the Royal Prestige® line of cookware. Founded in 1959, Hy Cite has expanded into 20 countries over the last two decades.Founded in 1959, Hy Cite has expanded into 20 countries over the last two decades.

Erik says that much of the company’s success is product-based. It has three brands of cookware—Royal Prestige, its first and biggest brand of top-quality products, especially in the Hispanic market; NutraEase, a high-quality stainless steel line sold at in-home dinner parties; and its latest, Kitchen Charm, which was introduced in early 2014 and is focused on the bridal market. Each includes supporting products, such as water filtration units, juice extractors and air purifiers, but the core product in each line is cookware. Both distributors and consumers know the company by its cookware brands, rather than by the corporate name. Distributors focus on … Click here to read the entire at Direct Selling News.


Executive Connection with Erik Johnson, Chairman and CEO, Hy Cite


About Direct Selling News
Direct Selling News Magazine has been serving direct selling and network marketing executives since 2004. Each issue of Direct Selling News offers content on topics that shape the dynamics of our industry.

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