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April 01, 2016

Exclusive Interviews

The Solutions Business: Wellness Systems Drive Record Sales at Isagenix

by Emily Reagan

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

Photo above: Isagenix’s new world headquarters in Gilbert, Arizona.

Isagenix International sustained its multi-year growth surge in 2015, as annual sales climbed 20 percent to a record $892 million. At the end of February the maker of health and wellness products said cumulative sales had topped $4 billion in its 14 years of business. Rapid growth prompted Isagenix to build a new 150,000-square-foot world headquarters in Gilbert, Arizona, where it relocated in March. Though the company has established a brick-and-mortar presence in 14 markets worldwide, its booming North America business accounts for 80 percent of total revenue, with growing markets in Canada, Asia Pacific and Latin America. For more on recent growth and changes at Isagenix, DSN spoke to CEO Jim Coover and Executive Vice President Kathy Coover, both co-founders, as well as their son, Erik Coover, Senior Vice President of Global Field Development.

DSN: Isagenix just five years ago announced cumulative sales of $1 billion. What are some specific factors that put the company on the path to $4 billion today?

JC: I think it’s the strategic investments we’ve made along the way, including investments in product development and research. We don’t see ourselves as a “me too” company. We take pride in introducing product solutions that have strong science behind them to support the results people are seeking. Not only do we invest in the products, but we invest in the research to validate that what people are experiencing is supported by hard science, not only to give them comfort, but because in this day and age people want proof. We’re willing to invest in that.

Isagenix GroupIsagenix’s management team: Jim and Kathy Coover with their son, Erik.

We’ve also invested in our infrastructure and management team. International expansion has been a big part of our growth over the past four years. I’d say the most important investment for us has always been the investment we make in our field—providing them with tools, training, and powerful incentives for growing and supporting their customers and sales teams. That’s the thing that has allowed us to attract amazing people and fulfill the promise of this vehicle that enables them to take control of their health and, for those so inclined, their financial health as well.

DSN: What has been the greatest challenge in managing recent growth?

JC: I’d say the greatest challenge has been making sure we maintain the special culture and values for which we’re known, and which have served as a magnet to attract amazing people, both those in the field and corporate staff. As you grow into new markets, it’s easy to attract what I would call the opportunity seekers or fast-buck artists whose values and actions don’t match up with our own, and so we’ve been very guarded in attracting the right people and giving them the right tools. Compliance is a big focus for us, because our intent is to build a legacy company. As we’ve seen, there are a lot of people looking for a safe home to build an asset that will be here for generations. Kathy, Erik and I are all proud to say that is what’s happened.

DSN: You cut the ribbon at your new world headquarters in March. What kind of environment did you want to create for employees at the new facility?

KC: Our new building is spectacular, to say the least. It’s 150,000 square feet and three stories, with lots of beautiful windows for a light, airy feeling. Our goal was to have everyone under one roof. We were growing so fast that our staff was spread across four buildings. We employ 580 here in Gilbert, and more than 800 worldwide. Having everyone together helps to create the One Team spirit, with everyone working together to create the most magnificent company in the world. Our culture is very important to us internally and externally, and we want our employees to feel like they can’t wait to come to work. … We even have a restaurant for our staff where they can order healthy made-to-order meals, called George’s Hangout (named after the builder’s architectural advisor), a place where people can talk and collaborate. We also installed numerous meeting spaces where people can come together on projects, as well as meeting rooms for our Associates, where they can come in and do presentations in a facility with 300 seats, or in smaller meeting areas.

DSN: Isagenix offers a wide range of health and wellness products. What is today’s consumer looking for when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

KC: Since we have approximately 70 products now, we’ve categorized them as solutions. Everyone is looking for something different, so we have solutions for weight loss, energy, performance and healthy aging. Weight loss is a stellar category for us. … Our energy line is also a phenomenal seller—we don’t put any artificial coloring or stimulants in the products. Healthy aging is another popular category.

DSN: After an initial rollout, Isagenix launched its complete performance line in January. What kind of reception has it gotten from Associates?

EC: When Isagenix first started in 2002, and really for the first four or five years, it primarily was known as a weight-loss company. … As we’ve evolved and consumers have recognized our commitment to real science and no-compromise products, many people have talked to us about their interest in putting on more lean muscle mass. They want to put on more muscle and get more fit, whether they’re professional athletes or weekend warriors, or the 60-year-old who still goes out running every morning. So we’ve developed a whole sports performance line called AMPED to optimize performance pre-workout, during workout and post-workout. … In the last couple of years, we’ve attracted some of the fittest people who are looking to take their performance to the next level, and we’ve had great feedback on the product line, because it works.

DSN: In a recent interview for DSN, management noted that millennials are the fastest-growing demographic among Isagenix Associates. How is the company supporting and equipping them in particular?

EC: One of my biggest passions is to create and support a new generation within Isagenix. We look at ourselves, as my dad mentioned, as a legacy company—one that will be around for generations to come. To do that, we’d better inspire the next generation, because to me that’s the legacy of Isagenix. We have the best before-and-after photos in the world, great products and a great compensation plan, but to attract young people you’ve got to be cool, hip, trendy. With that intention, we launched the START Your Life movement about four years ago to offer young people tools and systems to help them cast the vision for other young people.

We have a START Facebook page with more than 54,000 people aged 18 to 35, who are on that page on a daily basis posting successes and challenges and building relationships. … We’ve also built a START website as a central hub for the younger generation in Isagenix to showcase what some young people are doing within Isagenix and our mission, which centers on contribution. One thing that frustrates me is seeing people try to lure young people into a business with flashy objects and materialistic stuff. While all that is nice to have, it’s really not to me what life is about; life is about contribution and the difference you’re making in other people’s lives. We’ve designed START around the core value of contribution, and that’s ultimately why it’s sustainable.

DSN: How does Isagenix incorporate charitable giving into the business?

KC: A huge part of our culture is contribution, and we at corporate, plus all of our Associates, give money to Make-A-Wish, which is our charity of choice right now. They’ve done many great things for many families. In all, we’ve given more than $4 million to Make-A-Wish. We also have made contributions of over $4 million to ChildHelp. We really are behind children. ChildHelp serves battered, abused children, and Make-A-Wish serves children with health issues.

JC: We believe in abundance, and I think you never really have anything until you share it. Those enjoying greater financial security because of their Isagenix business are in a position to do things that perhaps weren’t possible before. While it started with our own desire to make a difference, it’s something that immediately attracted our field as well. It’s not uncommon for us to raise $100,000 or more at a regional event. It’s one of the most gratifying things we do.