Plexus Appoints McCormick Scientist to Head Up R&D

Plexus Worldwide has tapped Alan Jiang, M.D., Ph.D., to serve as Vice President of Research and Development. The role provides oversight of product development, medical affairs, claims substantiation and science education at the health and wellness company.

Since earning his M.D. from the College of Medicine at China’s Zhejiang University, one of the top schools in Asia, Jiang has held research and management roles in both academia and the dietary supplement and food industries. His articles have appeared in outlets such as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and the Journal of Medicinal Food, in addition to a book chapter published by the Pharmaceutical Press.

“A graduate with honors from one of the most prestigious medical universities in the world, and with numerous published studies, Dr. Jiang brings Plexus a 20-year track record of success within academia and the health and wellness industry, researching and developing top-quality products,” said Cindy Latham, Chief Marketing Officer at Plexus.

Most recently a senior scientist with established herbs and spices brand McCormick & Co., Jiang previously was Director of Scientific Affairs for a top direct selling nutrition company. Before transitioning to the health and nutrition industry, he was appointed as a faculty member and Laboratory Director of the Center for Human Nutrition, the world-class research center at John Hopkins University.

“In considering this opportunity, I was very impressed by the company’s leadership, and it was clear that Plexus was on the right track—not only because of its fast growth but because of its long-term investments and commitment to excellence and science,” said Jiang.

Founded in 2008, Plexus logged revenue of $384 million last year, landing the No. 46 spot on the 2016 DSN Global 100, a list of the top direct selling companies in the world. The Arizona-based company ranks No. 28 among North America-based direct sellers.


Life Shotz Changes Name, Appoints New Vice President of Sales

Health and wellness brand Life Shotz is making some big changes—beginning with its name. The Idaho-based company has rolled out new products under the name  and appointed Matt Morrow as Vice President of Sales.

Industry veteran Richard Brooke and his wife, Kimmy, founded the company in 2010 to market Life Shotz, a powdered drink containing nutrients from whole foods. Brooke previously founded dental health brand and Bliss Business, a personal development consultancy based on the principles of Brooke’s book, Mach II: The Art of Vision & Self-Motivation.

Since launching five years ago with its flagship product, Life Matters has added a line of vegan protein shakes. The company’s latest offerings are Mind and Motion, two targeted nutrition supplements. Mind is a nootropic, or memory enhancer, formulated to support brain performance. Motion contains a blend of nutrients that support overall movement and flexibility.

The company’s new Vice President of Sales, Matt Morrow, calls Life Matters a hidden gem “that will not be hidden for long.” Before taking on the role, Morrow spent nearly three decades building direct selling businesses as a field sales leader.

“I am so honored to come to work with industry icon Richard Brooke and his team,” Morrow said in a statement. “I absolutely love the team culture and product philosophy at Life Matters.”

According to Brooke, the nutrition company’s culture—and its new name—reflect the values embraced by Life Matters and its customers. “Fun, integrity, leadership and honor matter to us. We just love this name,” said Brooke.

LifeVantage Reports Full-Year Earnings Dip, Proposes Reverse Stock Split

LifeVantage Corp. (LFVN—NASDAQ) closed out its fiscal year with revenue down 10 percent to $190.3 million, the health and wellness company said Tuesday.

In the fourth quarter, ended June 30, revenue dropped 20 percent from a year ago to $45.3 million, beating analysts’ estimates of $45.1 million. Adjusted earnings were $3.1 million, down 50 percent year-over-year, but comparable to the company’s third quarter results.

“Our fourth quarter results reflected stability in our revenue and operating results,” President and CEO Darren Jensen, who joined LifeVantage in April, said in a statement. “We strategically implemented $4 million of annualized cost savings in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 to better align our cost structure with current sales trends, and position us for stronger EBITDA and net income in fiscal 2016.”

For the full year, LifeVantage generated adjusted earnings of $17.4 million, down 30 percent from 2014. On the back of a 28.2 percent revenue decrease in the Asia/Pacific region, net income fell 40 percent to $7.0 million.

The company also reported that its board of directors has unanimously put forth a reverse stock split proposal. If approved by shareholders, the reverse split would aim at driving up the stock’s minimum price and securing LifeVantage’s Nasdaq listing. The company’s 98 million outstanding shares are currently trading below the $1 minimum required by Nasdaq.

Shaklee Unveils Global Innovation Center

Photo: Shaklee Chairman and CEO Roger Barnett (second from left) leads a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Dr. Forest C. Shaklee Global Innovation Center.

Health and wellness brand Shaklee Corp. has announced the official opening of its new Dr. Forest C. Shaklee Global Innovation Center, located near the company’s headquarters in Pleasanton, California.

The state-of-the-art facility will house Shaklee’s entire R&D department, including more than 50 scientists. The center’s namesake, Dr. Shaklee, is the founder of the company and a pioneer in the development of the multivitamin—a foundational product for Shaklee since its creation in 1956. As its name implies, the Global Innovation Center will focus on product innovations, as well as testing and quality control.

“The new Global Innovation Center will allow for collaboration and promote the use of technology and research to help improve the health span of people all over the world,” said Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Nobel Prize Laureate and Shaklee Corp. Scientific Adviser, on hand during the center’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.

In the development of its nutrition, household, and personal-care products, Shaklee has published more than 90 peer-reviewed studies in scientific journals. The company also fosters open innovation by partnering with leading scientists and university programs to discover nutritional trends and technologies.

via Shaklee Unveils Global Innovation Center — Direct Selling News.

Youngevity Closes out 2014 with Record Revenue

Photo: Youngevity distributors kick off the year with an incentive cruise.

Youngevity International (OTCQX: YGYI) continued its double-digit growth streak in 2014 by more than doubling revenue, the company reported this week. The San Diego-area firm is setting its sights on international markets as it continues to expand its portfolio of nutrition and lifestyle products.

Youngevity reported 2014 revenue of $134.0 million, a 56.5 percent increase versus 2013. Revenue derived from acquisitions was $14.5 million. Net income increased to $5.4 million, up from $2.7 million in the prior year, largely due to a $4.7 million tax benefit from adjustments to deferred taxes.

“If I had to put a label on 2014, I would call it the year of refinement because we successfully refined nearly every key component of the company,” President Bill Andreoli told investors during the company’s earnings call. Throughout the year, Youngevity made improvements to its product warehousing and logistics system, website and online shopping experience, field training and recognition systems, and both its acquisition and organic growth strategies.

The company’s ongoing acquisition strategy has positioned it across the Health and Wellness, Beauty and Care, Food and Beverage, and Home and Family categories. This year Youngevity added energy services, including renewable energy options, through a partnership with Energy Professionals. In addition to its direct sales segment, Youngevity operates CLR Roasters, a vertically integrated gourmet coffee business.

Youngevity’s direct selling revenue grew 51 percent for the year, totaling $161.3 million, while the commercial coffee business grew 101 percent to $17.7 million. At year-end, total assets were $55.7 million, compared to $34.9 million at the close of 2013.

The company’s leadership says that in 2015 and beyond it will focus on establishing the brand across international markets, which accounted for just 8 percent of 2014 sales. Youngevity reports significant growth in Canada, its largest international market, as well as Australia and New Zealand, where it recently obtained a facility three times the size of the existing one to support demand in the region.

Recent expansions include Russia, where Youngevity has opened a Moscow office, and Singapore, where it hopes to build distribution within the Asian marketplace. Youngevity is also building a presence in Mexico with an eye toward additional Latin American countries.

Jeunesse Announces Acquisition of MonaVie and mynt

Two prominent brands in the health and wellness segment are joining forces in a strategic acquisition announced this week.

Skincare and supplement manufacturer Jeunesse Global has completed the acquisition of MonaVie LLC, a nutrition company that markets juice blends, energy drinks and shake mixes. The acquisition includes the MonaVie-backed mynt brand, which launched in 2014 as a platform to attract a younger generation of tech-savvy, community-minded entrepreneurs.

It’s the second acquisition for Orlando, Florida-based Jeunesse. In 2011 the company acquired GreatLife Intl., another direct seller in the health and wellness niche.

Jeunesse’s leadership was not aggressively looking to acquire, Chief Visionary Officer Scott Lewis told DSN, but they found the brands compatible in more than just the shared French origin of their names. The companies have developed similar cultures and established global brands. MonaVie is operating in key markets such as Brazil, which Jeunesse has targeted as a strategic next step in its international expansion. Through its mynt brand, MonaVie is also actively courting young entrepreneurs.

“From a strategic point of view, we’ve been trying to come up with strategies to penetrate Gen Y and attract a younger demographic as well,” said Lewis. Jeunesse has announced plans to launch the mynt brand in Europe this summer and in Japan soon thereafter.

Another factor that came into consideration was the loyalty MonaVie has inspired among its sales leaders. “We respected the fact that a lot of the top leaders who have been there since the heyday are still there,” Lewis noted. “There is a lot of attrition, but when you look at the top distributors, a lot of them have remained loyal.”

Salt Lake City-based MonaVie launched in 2005 and soon experienced exponential growth. After posting three-year revenue growth of 5,883 percent, the company appeared on the 2009 Inc. 500, an annual list of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. MonaVie ranked No. 18, with $854.9 million in 2008 revenue.

In the following years, MonaVie experienced growing pains and incurred considerable debt, which Jeunesse has cleared as part of the acquisition agreement. The company has not disclosed further details of the transaction.

“This is an exciting step forward for MonaVie and our distributors,” MonaVie President Mauricio Bellora said in a statement. “Our diligent work over the past two years has resulted in a right-sized company with innovative products and an efficient sourcing platform.”

Under the Jeunesse umbrella, the combined businesses represent a network of more than 4 million distributors in more than 100 countries. The two brands will carry on business as usual, maintaining their respective product lines and distributor structures, as they undergo a gradual integration.

“We’re not in any rush,” Lewis emphasized. “We want to get the company profitable, make sure they have the support to grow and see what happens.”

Team 4Life Welcomes Olympic Gold Medalist

Australian professional snowboarder Torah Bright, who was a stand-out competitor and medalist in the 2014 Winter Olympics, has joined Team 4Life. Already a fan of the health and wellness company’s products, she will endorse 4Life’s Transfer Factor® line.

Bright was a Silver medalist in the Half-pipe competition of the most recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, winning Australia its first medal of that year’s Games. Adding to the Gold she had won in the same category in the previous Olympics in 2010, Bright became Australia’s most successful Winter Olympics athlete. She’s also won two Gold and two Silver medals for her performance in the Snowboard SuperPipe competition at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, and in 2013 took first place at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Copper Mountain, Colorado.

Growing up in Cooma, New South Wales, Australia, Bright was first introduced to 4Life products in 2013 through her mother, Marion, who was already a long-time distributor for the company.

“Torah’s spirit, discipline, and character exemplify what we look for in Team 4Life members,” said Trent Tenney, Senior Vice President of Marketing. “I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with her at 4Life Global Headquarters and I can attest to the passion and determination she demonstrates in competition. We are thrilled to welcome her as the first new Team 4Life member in 2015.”

By joining Team 4Life, Bright, who just won Bronze in the Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe competition for the 2015 Winter X Games in Aspen last week, will become part of a group of world-renowned athletes who excel in their disciplines.

Strategic Synergy: Creating Qivana’s Sustainable Future

by Beth Douglass Silcox

Company Profile

  • Founded: 2009
  • Headquarters: Provo, Utah
  • Founders: Derek Hall, Founder and CEO; Devin Glazier, Founder and Chief Financial Officer; Justin Banner, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer; Craig Johanson, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer
  • Products: Skincare and health and wellness


In the decade after the millennium, the exploding market for an ever-healthier beverage sent network marketing companies clamoring for exotic, antioxidant rich fruits, most often found in remote island paradises. The most successful companies—marketing a large variety of antioxidant packed juices, health and wellness, and beauty products—invested millions in researchers trudging through remote jungles, in controlled labs, and in scientists who became jacks-of-all-trades and in-house product formulation teams.

It was within this space that a group of men, those who would eventually form Qivana, decided that they would not be in the product development business at all.

It seemed unlikely to this group of network marketing professionals that breakthrough products would emerge from an in-house team focused on a variety of formulations. So they opted for different path—one that has led Qivana to market four cutting-edge product lines, currently consisting of 21 products within the direct selling spaces of health and nutrition, as well as beauty and anti-aging.

Qivana owners (L to R): Justin Banner, Founder & CSO; Craig Johanson, Founder & CMO; Derek Hall, Founder & CEO; Devin Glazier, Founder & CFO

Qivana owners (L to R): Justin Banner, Founder & CSO; Craig Johanson, Founder & CMO; Derek Hall, Founder & CEO; Devin Glazier, Founder & CFO


Everyone Doing What They Do Best

Qivana’s product strategy focused on partnerships with published scientists and university researchers with 10, 20, maybe 30 years invested in health and wellness solutions. They reckoned that true breakthrough products were born in these labs and saw no need to put their own scientific “fingerprints” on any product. “Let the scientists and the universities and the researchers do what they do best, which is develop, formulate and research. Then allow us to do what we do best,” says Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Craig Johanson.Qivana products

Qivana would bring products into the direct selling channel, giving these scientists, researchers and formulators an effective avenue to reach consumers with their breakthrough products. Then, Johanson says, the company would “turn that product over to our field. Then we let them do what they do so well, which is put that product in front of people and share that message.”

Derek Hall, Devin Glazier, Justin Banner and Johanson sat around that planning table in 2008. Hall, once president and CEO for another nutritional company, found synergy with a former director of finance, Glazier, as well as other industry alums Banner and Johanson. Strategy and development was Banner’s forte, while marketing was Johanson’s focus.

By 2009 they had launched a new company they called Qivana.

Built to Last

“We have a really strong corporate team, made up of great leaders in the industry and some of the best athletes in the world,” says Banner, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer. “We brought on a top-notch scientist as our Chief Science Officer [Dr. Donald Layman] and brought product lines that we believe are some of the best in the world in their categories. We are confident in our products and our team, and we believe it’s a winning combination that plays out perfectly.”

But, perhaps, Qivana’s founders drafted their own success story when they methodically planned for long-term sustainability. Qivana’s focus is not on next month or next year, but rather decision-making to build a … Click here to read the full story at Direct Selling News.

Youngevity to Offer Energy Services through New Partnership

Youngevity International is adding another segment to its diverse direct selling business, this time in the services category. The San Diego, California-based company has branched into energy and natural gas services through a new partnership with Energy Professionals.

The new services, including green renewable energy options, will launch for Youngevity’s Texas distributors and customers this month. The company anticipates that more deregulated markets will follow. Energy Professionals holds contracts with 10 of the country’s top 13 energy supply companies, enabling it to service more than 5 million residential customers and more than 50,000 commercial accounts.

Youngevity’s extensive offerings span the Health and Wellness, Beauty and Care, Food and Beverage, and Home and Family categories. Further diversifying its model with energy services allows Youngevity customers and distributors to participate in a $500 billion industry, said President Bill Andreoli.

“Energy services represent a transfer buying experience,” Andreoli shared in the company’s release. “Everyone uses energy every day, and now we believe our distributors can make a better energy choice and supplement their income by helping customers do the same.”

MonaVie Enters Pre-Launch Phase in China

MonaVie is rolling out big plans for 2015 with the launch of its business in China, direct selling’s second largest market. This week the health and wellness company kicked off a pre-launch phase in the country with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new Shanghai administration office.

The Shanghai office is one of three that will initially support MonaVie’s Chinese distributors and customers. The company has also opened an office in Guangzhou, the capital of South China’s Guangdong province, and plans to open a Beijing location with its full market launch in April 2015.

“For years now we have been exploring the opportunity to enter China, which can quite possibly become the largest direct selling market in the world,” Dan Zhu, MonaVie’s President of Asia Pacific, shared in the company’s release. “Plus, one of the fastest-growing segments of our global distributor family is among our ethnic-Chinese distributors who have ties to China.”