, Natural Organics Inc.HSR
: Health Supplement Retailer
is celebrating its 10th anniversary by talking with some of the leaders in the branded dietary supplement category.These industry veterans are among those who have had-and continue to have- significant influence on the marketing of dietary supplements through the health food channel and on the industry at large.Each month, we will talk with an exec, and bring you their views on how the industry has changed and where it is headed.This month, HSR sits down with Gerald Kessler, founder of Melville, N.Y.-based Natural Organics, makers of the Nature's Plus line of dietary supplements.Founded in 1972, Nature's Plus products, "The Energy Supplements," are sold exclusively through independent health food stores.Kessler, an outspoken advocate for the industry, has testified before Congress about the importance of dietary supplements and was the founder of the Nutritional Health Alliance (NHA), which played a critical role in galvanizing retailer action that resulted in the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994.HSR
Plus has been in business for more than 30 years.What attracted you to the dietary supplement industry?Gerry Kessler
: After spending 17 years in the pharmaceutical industry, I realized what we were doing was masking disease and handling symptoms rather than addressing core problems.
...Kessler: Many years ago, there were a lot of people involved in the industry who had health problems or a member of their family had health problems, and they discovered the power of nutrition.
: One of our biggest differences is our emphasis on quality.
Plus is a product of independent health food stores, and we owe them our loyalty and appreciation.These are very well meaning, knowledgeable, caring people who are in business to help people, and they are being put in a difficult competitive position right now.However, independent health food store owners are more dedicated to quality and education than the mass stores, and we have many ways in which we support them.First, we offer high-quality products with a guarantee that when a customer takes a Nature's Plus product, it either works better than anything she has ever taken or we'll give her money back.
: Independent health food stores need to carry products that are not available at mass market stores and are very unique, powerful, effective, well packaged and easily distinguishable from mass market products.
: First of all, I think the most wonderful thing that has taken place in my life and in my experience with these independent health food stores is the way they rose up with the greatest letter writing campaign to Congress in the history of this country-with more letters than even on the Vietnam war- to oppose the desires of the American Medical Association
, the FDA
and the pharmaceutical industry to make dietary supplements into drugs.