Direct Selling News Honors Oriflame Chief with 2016 Bravo Leadership Award

Photo: Magnus Brännström, CEO and President of Oriflame, addresses his direct selling peers at the 2016 DSN Global 100 Celebration. (Jason Kindig)


Direct Selling News on Thursday named Magnus Brännström, CEO and President of Oriflame, the recipient of the 2016 DSN Bravo Leadership Award.

Each year, the award goes to one direct selling executive who embodies exceptional leadership qualities—providing inspirational vision for their company, motivating their teams toward a common goal, serving others by equipping them to do the best job possible, and especially by empowering them to reach new heights.

Lauren Lawley Head, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Direct Selling News, and John Fleming, the publication’s Ambassador, presented the award to Brännström at the 2016 DSN Global 100 Celebration, held Thursday evening in Dallas. Brännström delivered the keynote address at the event, which marked the unveiling of the DSN Global 100, a list of the top revenue-generating direct selling companies in the world, as well as a regional subset of the list known as the North America 50.

This year’s Global 100, led by Ada, Michigan-based Amway, hail from 17 different countries and represent aggregate revenue of $82 billion. Under Brännström’s leadership, Oriflame has perennially ranked among the top companies on the list, and this year is no exception. The Swiss beauty company came in at No. 14 with annual revenue of $1.35 billion.

Brännström began his direct selling career in 1997, serving in executive posts in Russia, the Baltics and Asia as he worked his way up the corporate ladder. He became CEO of Oriflame, a legacy direct selling company, in 2005 and has continued to lead the business through a dynamic period of technological and geopolitical change. Oriflame now operates in 60 countries—Russia being its biggest market—through a network of more than 3 million consultants.

Like all Bravo Leadership honorees, among them Ambit Energy’s Jere Thompson and Amway’s Doug DeVos, Brännström has exhibited a vision for the future that extends beyond any one company. He is a fierce advocate for the direct selling channel as a whole, and former Chairman of the Board for Seldia, the European Direct Selling Association.

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With 254% Revenue Surge, Le-Vel Takes Home 2016 Bravo Growth Award

Photo: Jason Camper and Paul Gravette, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Le-Vel, address their direct selling peers at the 2016 DSN Global 100 Celebration.


Direct Selling News on Thursday named Le-Vel the recipient of this year’s DSN Bravo Growth Award. The premium lifestyle brand led its direct selling peers with 254 percent year-over-year growth in 2015.

The award was presented to Jason Camper and Paul Gravette, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs of Le-Vel, at the 2016 DSN Global 100 Celebration, held Thursday evening in Dallas. The annual event marks the unveiling of the DSN Global 100, a list of the top revenue-generating direct selling companies in the world. Le-Vel ranked No. 48 on the Global 100 and No. 29 the North America 50, a subset of the list that recognizes the region’s leading companies.

This year’s Global 100 companies, led by Ada, Michigan-based Amway, hail from 17 different countries and represent aggregate revenue of $82 billion. A closer look at the numbers reveals several remarkable growth stories, none more so than Le-Vel’s. Last year, the maker of Thrive nutrition, weight management and fitness products netted sales of $349 million, an increase of 254 percent over 2014.

Though the Bravo Award recognizes Le-Vel’s achievements in 2015, the company has been one to watch since its launch in 2012. The place to watch this particular brand is on social media, where 90 percent of customer acquisition takes place. More than 500,000 independent sellers, known as Promoters, are online touting the benefits of the Thrive Experience, an eight-week program incorporating a daily regimen of Le-Vel products. Along with a practice of rewarding referrals with free products, the flagship program has boosted annual sales from about $10 million in 2013, to $100 million in 2014, to last year’s $350 million.

At Le-Vel, technology is not only key to customer acquisition—the company reports 2 million and counting—but also the foundation of the business, in a manner of speaking. From its inception the company has eschewed a brick-and-mortar headquarters, opting to make its home in the cloud. Le-Vel leadership credits cloud technology with enabling the business to stay nimble and hire the best talent in the world, while keeping overhead at an absolute minimum.

 

Direct Selling News Unveils Industry’s Top Companies in Seventh Annual DSN Global 100

In recognition of those companies that lead the way in offering an unparalleled opportunity for individuals to start their own businesses, Direct Selling News today unveiled its seventh annual DSN Global 100, an exclusive ranking of the top revenue-generating companies in direct selling.

The DSN Global 100 is a collective effort to show the impact and potential of the $182.8 billion direct selling channel. Unveiled online at DirectSellingNews.com and featured in the June issue of Direct Selling News magazine, this year’s Global 100 companies hail from 17 countries and represent aggregate revenue of more than $82 billion.

The DSN Global 100 tells a story of impressive growth in 2015, exhibited by the fact that 20 companies surpassed $1 billion in annual revenue,” said Lauren Lawley Head, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Direct Selling News. “These exceptional companies represent not only corporate staff, but millions of lives impacted by the products and opportunity they offer.”

Many direct selling companies had an incredible year of growth and success in 2015. For the first time, 20 companies each reported annual revenue of $1 billion or more. For the fourth consecutive year, Ada, Michigan-based Amway claimed the No. 1 rank, with $9.5 billion in revenue. Avon, Herbalife, Vorwerk and Infinitus rounded out the top five on this year’s list.Best Places To Work 2017

DSN also presented a regional subset of the Global 100: The North America 50, which was first introduced in 2015. As its name implies, the North America 50 ranks the most significant players in one of the world’s largest direct selling markets.

The annual event celebrating the Global 100 took place on April 7, 2015, at the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas. During the dinner and awards ceremony, DSN also presented its Bravo Awards for excellence. Wellness and lifestyle brand Le-Vel received the Bravo Growth Award for its extraordinary 254 percent year-over-year growth, amounting to revenue of $349 million in 2015. Magnus Brännström, CEO and President of Switzerland-based Oriflame Cosmetics and keynote speaker for the evening, received the Bravo Leadership Award for leading his company to annual revenue of $1.35 billion amid a period of great economic and geopolitical turmoil in many of its top markets.

DSN created the Global 100 list to acknowledge the successes of individual direct selling companies and provide a clear picture of the magnitude of the industry. In its seventh year of undertaking this project, DSN continues its commitment to create a fair ranking that will showcase a transparent industry, thus providing credibility and consumer confidence as well as research support for those seeking information on direct selling companies.

Amway Reports Sales of $9.5 Billion in 2015

Photo above: Amway World Headquarters in Ada, Michigan.


Amway Corp. on Wednesday released its 2015 financial results, announcing annual sales of $9.5 billion.

Despite constant-dollar sales growth in 70 percent of Amway’s top 20 markets, revenue fell 12 percent from a year ago, hurt by currency fluctuations and soft sales in China, where the economy experienced its slowest growth in 25 years. The company reported similar trends in 2014, when revenue dropped 8 percent to $10.8 billion—a performance that nevertheless secured Amway the No. 1 spot on the 2015 DSN Global 100, a list of the top direct selling companies in the world.

In 2015, the company’s top 10 markets were China, South Korea, United States, Japan, Thailand, Russia, Taiwan, Malaysia, India and Ukraine. Management also singled out Brazil and Mexico as emerging markets that recorded considerable gains.

“We experienced growth in seven of our top 10 markets, and emerging markets in Latin America and elsewhere continue to perform well,” Chairman Steve Van Andel noted in Amway’s report. “Several markets achieved record sales levels in 2015 with others producing their best performance in some time. An increasingly competitive environment in China and unfavorable currency exchange rates mask a positive year overall for Amway globally.”

Nutrition remains a powerhouse category for the company, accounting for 46 percent of 2015 sales. Amway Nutrilite is the world’s leading brand of vitamin, mineral and dietary supplements, according to research by Euromonitor International, and the company last year expanded the line with BodyKey by Nutrilite, a personalized weight-management program. BodyKey utilizes a genetic test or comprehensive, scientific assessment to provide a tailored plan for managing weight.

Beauty and personal care products accounted for 25 percent of sales, and durable products, such as the company’s eSpring water treatment system and Atmosphere air treatment system, made up another 16 percent. The remaining 13 percent was split between home care products and assorted other offerings.

Last year also marked the culmination of Amway’s three-year manufacturing and R&D expansion. The company has poured $335 million into strengthening its global infrastructure, opening five manufacturing facilities and a major R&D site in 2015 alone. Other investments included new digital tools to help Amway Business Owners showcase products and manage their businesses.

In 2016 and beyond, Amway leadership sees plenty of cause for optimism, particularly in light of its 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Report. The report, based on a survey of 50,000 people in 44 countries, quantifies attitudes about business ownership and the entrepreneurial spirit.  All told, 75 percent of respondents were positive about starting a business, and that number increased to 81 percent among those 35 and younger.

“Globally, more and more people are seeking an opportunity to do something on their own—whether it’s to earn a little extra or for a bigger commitment to earn more,” said Doug DeVos, Amway President and Chairman of the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations. “We’re well positioned to meet that demand with a low-cost, low-risk business opportunity selling world-class products.”

Amway Opens $13 Million Botanical Research Center in China

Photo: The Amway Botanical Research Center in Wuxi, China.


To facilitate the study of plants integral to Amway’s best-selling Nutrilite supplement line, the company has opened the Amway Botanical Research Center in Wuxi, China.

The $13 million site, which Amway developed over the past two years, comprises a laboratory and large greenhouse built on 84 acres of farmland. In a statement, the Michigan-based company said it will use the site to research soil nutrients, plant physiology, extract quality standards and processes.

Chinese herbal medicines, which use plants and botanicals to promote optimal health and natural balance, were a source of inspiration for Carl Rehnborg, the creator of Amway’s Nutrilite brand of vitamins and dietary supplements.

“The new ABRC is our effort to research and understand botanicals to a greater extent—using the most advanced technology and scientific practices—and integrate the findings into our products,” George Calvert, Chief Supply Chain and R&D Officer, said in a statement.

Amway has acquired 6,400 acres of certified-organic farmland across Brazil, Mexico and the U.S., in addition to its newest site in China. The company spent three years inspecting various sites before selecting the Wuxi location on account of its optimal growing conditions.

Vemma: Caught in the Cross Hairs

On Dec. 4, 2014, Matthew Thacker logged onto a computer in Dallas and signed up as an Affiliate for Arizona-based Vemma Nutrition Co. Seven days later, three boxes arrived containing his starter kit, which consisted of a variety of products and materials for launching his business. Over the course of the next few months, he spoke with his up-line enroller for guidance on establishing his business, attended two training events, received regular product shipments and spent considerable time studying online Vemma training materials.

But Thacker was far from being a new, engaged company recruit.

As Vemma learned in late August, Thacker is an investigator with the Federal Trade Commission. He signed up for Vemma using an undercover name, contact information and credit card account, documenting each step along the way with screen recording software, and he continued to use his undercover identity as he …

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ViSalus Co-Founder Endows $200K to Entrepreneurial Program

A recent donation from ViSalus Co-Founder Nick Sarnicola and his wife, Ashley, will support up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Sarnicola’s native Michigan.

Through their Next Generation Entrepreneurs (NextGEn) Foundation, the philanthropic couple has provided a $200,000 permanent endowment to the Muskegon Community College Entrepreneurial Studies program. The fund will supply a $10,000 annual award to graduates of the program.

The Sarnicolas’ gift goes hand-in-hand with a contribution from longtime friend and local real estate developer Jonathan Rooks, who donated the downtown Muskegon Masonic Temple building for the program’s use. The facility is slated to re-open by fall 2017 as the Rooks Sarnicola Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.

“Jon and Nick are making history at MCC with these incredibly generous gifts,” Tina Dee, Director of the Foundation for Muskegon Community College, said in a statement. “The total value of $550,000 is larger than any other single past contribution and will have an enduring and positive impact on our students and the greater community we serve.”

The Sarnicolas, who travel the world as Global Ambassadors for ViSalus, set up the NextGEn Foundation to provide scholarships, seed capital and mentoring for budding entrepreneurs.

It Works! Founders Donate $3 Million to Michigan State Athletics

Photo: An artist’s rendering of planned updates to MSU’s Alfred Berkowitz Basketball Complex.


It Works! may have relocated its corporate headquarters from Michigan to Florida, but Founders Mark and Cindy Pentecost are still Spartans fans. Michigan State University has announced that a $3 million gift from the couple will fund improvements to its men’s basketball program.

The donation contributes to MSU’s ongoing Empower Extraordinary campaign, which launched publicly in October 2014. Set to conclude in 2018, the campaign aims to raise $1.5 billion for the university. The Pentecosts support Empower Extraordinary alongside more than 30 other leaders and volunteers on the Athletic Director’s Campaign Leadership Council.

Mark Pentecost, It Works! President and CEO, grew up among Spartans fans in MSU’s hometown of East Lansing. As a former basketball coach, he has also witnessed firsthand how athletics can impact an individual’s life. The Pentecosts’ gift will help MSU extend that impact with updates to the men’s basketball offices and practice facilities at its Alfred Berkowitz Basketball Complex. The donation also establishes an endowment for further facility improvements in the future.

“Prior to entering the direct selling industry, I was a teacher and high school basketball coach trying to help kids accomplish their goals. I still feel like I get to be a coach every day, but now on a larger scale with thousands of It Works! team members around the world,” Mark Pentecost told DSN. “Giving back to the student athletes at MSU is something we’ve always wanted to do, and we hope it’ll help them continue to perform at the highest level and reach their dreams.”

ViSalus Coordinates Group Workouts in Bid for World Record

ViSalus is helping people jumpstart their New Year’s health and fitness resolutions in a big way. On Jan. 3 at 12 p.m., the healthy lifestyle company is looking to set a record for the World’s Largest Simultaneous Group Workout.

Troy, Michigan-based ViSalus has invited individuals to participate by hosting or joining one of its Challenge Group events. The groups are forming across North America as well as Europe, where the company operates under the Vi brand. Challenge Group members will come together on Jan. 3 for a variety of activities oriented to people at all fitness levels.

The record would not be the first set by ViSalus, which teamed up with celebrity Alfonso Ribeiro in 2012 to perform the World’s Largest Simultaneous Flash Mob. The flash mob featured Ribeiro’s “Carlton” dance, named for his character on television’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The famous moves also helped Ribeiro and his partner, Witney Carson, win the latest season of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.

In addition to gunning for a world record, the Challenge Groups will be sweating for a good cause. For every person who takes part, ViSalus has committed to donating 30 meals through its PROJECT 10 Kids program, which supplies Vi-Shape Nutritional Shake Meals to children in need.

It Works!: Taking It to a Whole ‘Notha Level

by Jeremy Gregg

Click here to order the November 2014 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.


Photo above: The official ribbon-cutting at the new It Works! headquarters in Palmetto, Florida.


Company Profile

Founded: 2001
Headquarters: Palmetto, Florida
Executives: Mark Pentecost, CEO; Pam Sowder, Chief Networking Officer; Mike Potillo, Chief Sales Officer; Doug Nooney, CFO; Chris Burns, CIO; Don Klein, COO; Janne Heimonen, President of International Operations; Don Hamilton, Senior Director of Operations.
Products: Skincare and Nutrition


Founded in 2001, It Works! is one of world’s fastest-growing skincare and nutrition direct sales companies. Ranked at No. 290 on the Inc. 500 list for 2014, the company has enjoyed an impressive 1,565 percent growth rate over the past three years.

Originally based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, It Works! recently invested over $10 million to build a new global headquarters in Palmetto, Florida. Reaching across the U.S. and into at least 17 other countries, the company has amassed 90,000 active independent distributors, supported by the 100 full-time employees of It Works!.

Of the company’s 32 different products, the largest seller remains its first offering: the Ultimate Body Applicator, a non-woven cloth wrap that is infused with a powerful, botanically based formula. The company’s distributors—called “Wrapreneurs”—primarily market this product through home parties that offer their friends and families a way to achieve a tightened, toned and firm body in as little as 45 minutes.

Origin

Before It Works!, Mark Pentecost was a high school teacher and basketball coach living in the small town of Allegan, Mich., with his wife, Cindy, and their three children. Around 1995, the Pentecosts had joined a home-based business in the telecommunications industry, through which Mark Pentecost had become a top-10 earner. While they did not know it at the time, the Pentecosts’ success in direct selling had given them a vision for the future of It Works!.

In 2001, It Works! was founded on Pentecost’s belief in the impact of operating “debt-free” as an individual, but also as a company. He embraced the opportunity to share this message with the company’s distributors. “Debt Free Is the New Sexy” then became the mantra to align the field with the corporate philosophy of debt freedom.


It Works! achieved a 1,565 percent three-year growth from 2010 to 2013, placing it at No. 290 on Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 500 fastest-growing privately held companies in America.


Growing through a Tough Economy

It Works! was entering a major growth period when the economy began to fall off the cliff in 2008 and 2009. Catastrophic economic events were leading many other businesses to retreat in their expansion plans, take on enormous debt to maintain existing operations, or both. Despite these trends, Pentecost and the leadership team at It Works! were inspired to go against the grain: Pursue rapid growth while becoming debt-free.

The move paid off. Unencumbered by debt, the company grabbed a new vision for its future. It Works! achieved a 1,565 percent three-year growth from 2010 to 2013, placing it at No. 290 on Inc. magazine’s annual list of the 500 fastest-growing privately held companies in America.

“I truly believe we have a great team in our field leaders and corporate,” Pentecost says. “I’m confident in our strategic plans to grow both our U.S. and international markets. It Works! will be a recognizable force around the globe.”

Mike Potillo, Mark Pentecost and Pam Sowder welcome guests to the new It Works! headquarters.


Offering a Different Kind of Incentive

In January 2012, It Works! formalized its debt-free concept with the launch of the G.O.O.D. Bonus, which stands for “Get Out of Debt.” Based on performance, the bonuses have ranged from $10,000 to $75,000 on top of commission. Qualifiers are encouraged to use the money to pay off student loans, mortgages, credit cards and other debts.

Pentecost states: “The world today needs to hear about fiscal responsibility. At It Works!, we …”. See the full story on at Direct Selling News!!