By Michael Lelah, Ph.D., Technical Director, NOW Foods
We strive hard to give you top quality products. We have invested significant resources in top quality people, a top quality facility, top quality equipment, and top quality system and processes to ensure that this happens. Then how can we continue to provide you with affordable supplements and nutritional products?
To answer this question, we need to first go back to our roots. In the 60's, Elwood Richard, the founder of NOW Foods, owned a health food store in Elmhurst, Illinois. In 1968, a customer walked into Elwood's store and was outraged that he had overpaid for Elam Mills products (Elam Mills was a leading brand of flours, corn meals, etc, and was also sold at local Jewel stores). Elwood was really bothered by this and wanted never to be in such an embarrassing situation again. Elwood knew that he could do better. He used his relationship with Fearn to start NOW Foods, which would start off by packaging nonfat dry milk powder, soy powder, soy protein and Vitamin E. As they say, the rest is history.
Now let's fast forward to the 21st Century. At the end of 2004, Elwood Richard retired as the President of NOW. Although now not involved in the day-to-day running of the company, Elwood's philosophies, insights and visions remain with us. His never-ending commitment to quality and his constant striving for affordability guide us in our daily activities, and in our future plans.
But how do we continue to be affordable? We have a very extensive product line with over 1,500 skus. This allows us to purchase ingredients in quantity. We have strong purchasing power and work hard to negotiate the best deals. We have employees who have a mystical reputation for squeezing all the water out of the stone. But the ingredients we purchase are of high quality. You can test this by looking through our catalog. We have a page of Trademarked ingredients. Take the first on the list - 7-KETO®. Just compare the price for our product with others. It's the same ingredient.
Next, it's what we do with these ingredients. It's our GMP processes, our Operations management group, our high-powered ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system and software, our ultra-low turnover employees, and our dedication to productivity and efficiency that allow us to run fast and lean. We purchase high quality used equipment at auction, and have a whole team of engineers and technicians who refurbish and update for our needs, saving us 50 cents on the dollar.
We keep our expenses low. We spend less money on marketing and sales than most companies double our size. Most of our sales are done through our call center, which keeps our costs low. Did you know that our quality budget is much larger than our marketing budget, another difference from other companies? When we travel, we share rooms when appropriate. We travel low budget. We work low budget. True to our roots.
Are we done yet - no! Our margins are smaller than the industry standard. We are willing to take a smaller profit, because we are committed to providing affordable nutrition and healthy products to consumers. NOW it's time to take the Elwood Richard challenge - the question is not why do we charge so little; rather, why do others charge so much?