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April 01, 2016

Special Publications

The Best Places to Work in Direct Selling 2016 Honorees!

by Andrea Tortora

Click here to order the April 2016 issue in which this article appeared or click here to download it to your mobile device.

Table of Contents


Zurvita is truly a company with heart.

Co-Founders Mark and Tracy Jarvis walk around the office and sit and talk with employees, asking what they can do to make someone’s day better. “We want to make sure that every employee is a real person to us,” says Jay Shafer, Co-CEO. “We know they have dreams and ambitions and goals, and we want to understand where they want to go and make them feel cared about.”

The Houston-based maker of nutritional and weight-management products is founded on three principles:

  • To build a company that honors and glorifies God
  • To develop a company with humble leadership
  • To create an environment where people can win at every level

This executive viewpoint is not just lip service. The Jarvises model humble leadership every day, says Amalia Evans, a customer service trainer. “They know what it is like to start from the bottom and they get the frustrations that we experience,” Evans says. “Depending on your skill level and what you want to do, Zurvita will help you get there.”

Evans’ experience is a great example. She joined the company a year ago in an entry-level customer service job and was quickly promoted by her boss, Debbie Travis. With seven years of customer training experience under her belt, Evans showed strong mentoring potential that got her noticed. What she quickly noted about Zurvita is the way top leaders genuinely interact with employees, from Mark Jarvis shouting “Good morning!” to people as they come to work, to Travis’ ability to be “part mom, part boss-lady.”

“No one in customer service could have a better boss,” Evans says. “She is very understanding about how a business should work, but she also understands that people have lives outside of their job.”

“I can’t say enough about my manager. She listens, we talk things out and conquer our projects.”

The Jarvises say every person needs to believe they matter. Tracy Jarvis says the lessons she and Mark learned from working in the field give them a perspective that is their strength. “The field is the lifeblood of the business, but our corporate employees really need to love what they do,” Tracy Jarvis says.

As often as she can, Jarvis shares with employees that their efforts do change lives every day. Just knowing the impact one’s work can make is inspiring. Dena Kline, a Marketing Creative Director, joined Zurvita about 5 months ago after a friend who did contract design work for Zurvita could not stop talking about her positive experiences. “It’s really all about the people you’re working with,” Kline says. “We take the work seriously, but we don’t take ourselves very seriously.”

Kline says each member of the marketing team brings different skills to the table, which leads to a synergy that works extremely well under pressure, like when materials need to be ready for a big convention. “The attitude of the team was unique to me,” Kline says, “because when someone finished a task they couldn’t come back fast enough to ask what they could do next.”

The corporate culture also impresses Kline. It’s a family environment where company owners are accessible, authentic and intentional about including their faith in their daily work life. “That makes us comfortable bringing our own faith, even though we come from all different backgrounds,” Kline says. “We have people from all continents except Antarctica working here.”

“Zurvita is a family culture where every person feels they matter.”

For the Jarvises, the family culture means being transparent and sharing financial goals with everyone. Tracy Jarvis says every employee is eligible for incentive bonuses. The Jarvises and their management team let employees know they are appreciated in other ways, too. Zurvita’s top product, wellness drink Zeal, is available on-site to consume at any time. A recent improvement to Zurvita’s health insurance decreased employee costs in a way that “made it like getting a huge raise,” Kline says.

Also a coming move will put all employees on the same floor instead of in three different suites. To ensure a cohesive environment, there are always lots of lunches and celebrations to bring everyone together. At the new office, Zurvita will provide employee membership discounts to the adjacent fitness center.

Zurvita’s Vice President of Ministry Services is a unique benefit. This is like having a chaplain on staff available for employees at any time, to talk or pray together. Bible study sessions and prayer groups also are offered outside of work hours. “If you’re having an issue and need a shoulder to cry on or want to talk about your life in general, it’s nice to have someone who is there to be that ear,” Evans says.

“This company is amazing and I have learned so much from it.”

By providing this type of counseling, Zurvita’s executives let employees know they care about them as real people, not just as employees. Personal development is just as important as professional development. Kline sees lots of opportunity to move up and evolve as Zurvita grows. Evans agrees, noting that customer service is where many department directors (sales, compliance, IT) got their start.

This goes back to what Co-CEO Shafer says is Zurvita’s biggest benefit—that it tries to promote from within. “Customer service is the touch point,” he says.

If employees feel they are learning, growing and gaining new skills, then, Tracy Jarvis says, company leaders are doing their job. “We have watched people train up and even leave and go somewhere else and they thank us because they have a better opportunity thanks to what they learn here,” she says.