January 03, 2017
As Co-CEO Departs, Guest to Lead USANA as Sole CEO
by Emily Reagan
Kevin Guest and USANA Health Sciences go way back—all the way back, in fact. When USANA got its start 25 years ago, Guest’s media company, FMG Productions, was tapped to produce all marketing materials and events. He contracted with USANA until 2003, when the nutrition company brought him on board as Executive Director of Media and Events. A number of promotions would follow: vice president of marketing, chief marketing officer, president over North America.
According to company founder Myron Wentz, Ph.D., it was Guest’s “sound leadership, integrity and judgment” in each of these roles that made him the right person to lead USANA as chief executive—a position he first held a couple years ago, when then-CEO Dave Wentz took a yearlong sabbatical. Guest served as Interim CEO, and upon Wentz’s return, the company announced that he and Guest would serve as co-CEOs, with Wentz heading global operations and Guest leading field development and sales. That arrangement came to a close at the end of November, when Wentz stepped down to spend more time with family and continue his advocacy work as chairman of the Direct Selling Education Foundation. Guest is now sole CEO of the business, which generated revenue of $918 million in 2015. Ahead of full-year reporting, USANA’s sales are on track to surpass that number in 2016. The company has seen steady growth in recent years, and speaking with DSN, Guest said maintaining and building that momentum is the greatest challenge facing the company.
DSN: This is an exciting time for USANA, on the heels of 13 consecutive years of record sales, with the potential to add another year to that record. What do you see as the primary drivers of that growth and what is your strategy to take it into the future?
KG: Since its beginning, a primary driver of USANA and its continued growth has been the quality of the products, and that we have people who are involved with USANA because they’re consumers of the product who care about health and nutrition. That’s been the focus of the company since it started, and it continues to be. The vision of the company is “the healthiest family on earth.” We continue to see that roll forward, and we haven’t deviated from that vision one bit.
I also believe our international expansion and growth of sales in Asia Pacific has been another driver, as well as our consistent launches of new product enhancements. For example, this last convention we launched a whole new product offering called InCelligence, including our new core product, CellSentials. We continue to upgrade and innovate through our R&D team. Our founder, Dr. Myron Wentz, is a scientist, and so research and development with our science group has been a priority, which has helped drive growth. Then we truly have a seamless collaboration between our Associates and Preferred Customers and our home office. I think those are all key drivers of growth.
DSN: USANA is doing its biggest business in Asia Pacific. What trends are you seeing in the region, particularly in Greater China, where you’re putting more skin in the game with a new production facility?
KG: We see growth in all our regions, for which we’re extremely grateful. China continues to be a great area of growth, and we invested in this new manufacturing plant and facility in Beijing to match the quality we produce here in the U.S. As we look at Asia Pacific, one of the things we see continually is that our product message seems to resonate well with the emerging marketplaces there. Our product offering and messaging have been very well received, and the direct sales model seems to fit beautifully within their culture. It’s been widely accepted culturally because family is at the center of how they function in many ways, and family is at the center of direct sales.
DSN: As you mentioned, in recent years USANA has significantly ramped up its investment in scientific research. How will you leverage those resources going forward?
KG: We’ve just rolled out our U.S. patent-pending InCelligence technology in our nutrition line, and we’re going to leverage that technology into other products, using it as a foundation for delivering nutrition. We’re also developing new technologies from an IT and infrastructure perspective that will support our strategy of personalization in our product offerings. Then we’ll continue, as we’ve always done, to develop new products and upgrade existing products.
We also are constantly forming new scientific partnerships with universities and others, and we’ll use those relationships to leverage scientific research that ultimately will end up in the products we’re delivering to customers.
DSN: USANA is in the midst of a major upgrade to its IT infrastructure. Can you share what that timeline looks like, and what kind of improvements you’re targeting?
KG: We’re going to be rolling out new technologies in 2017. It’s our 25th anniversary, and we’re going to use that as a platform to roll out some new systems. We have a long-term enterprise architecture upgrade. The issues are stability and scalability, because when you’re growing year after year, keeping up and scalability are a big issue as they relate to IT infrastructure. As for our internal systems, we’ll roll out numerous stages over the next few years that will affect how shopping is done, how enrollments are handled, and how people are able to do business from a creative perspective.
DSN: USANA was named one of the 2016 Best Places to Work in Direct Selling. What’s one word you’d use to describe the culture at USANA?
DSN: Upward of 1,000 professional athletes now use and endorse the products, as part of Team USANA. How have those partnerships shaped the brand as we know it today?
KG: With professional athletes or Olympic athletes, their bodies are their business, so to speak. The credibility that comes with someone who is a peak-performing athlete goes hand-in-hand with our core message and who we are as a company. Another issue in the sports performance world, and it’s part of our strategy, is to show that we provide safe products, and these athletes are continually tested, particularly in the Olympics and other areas. If they know they can take our products and not test negatively for banned substances, that brings strength and credibility. Another part of our strategy of course has been marketing, to familiarize the USANA name with the public for stronger brand awareness.
DSN: When you’re not in the office, where are you most likely to be found?
KG: You’d find me with my family. I’m a proud grandpa of four grandchildren, with one on the way, and I’ve been married 32 years. My family is the most important thing to me.