SANTA CRUZ >> Linda Kahler
, who has championed significant trends in the supplement industry as head of Santa Cruz-based Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems
for three decades, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nutrition Business Journal last week.
grew a five-person company from its early days in the then-fringe industry of supplements into a market leader in the estimated $37 billion domestic market.
is credited with spearheading several key initiatives that have changed the industry.
I have been reflecting back to my first introduction to the industry in a family-owned retail store, Kahler
On the corporate giving side, Kahler
linked the company to several international causes such as Vitamin Angels
, an international program that provides free supplements to underserved communities in 50 countries, including the U.S., and 5 Gyres, which works to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans.
Kahler, a former health food store clerk as a teen, later managed The Food Bin in the 1980s when natural food was served up largely in bulk bins, and eventually stepped into the leadership position at Rainbow Light in 1985.
and the company have received numerous awards over the years.
Last year, she
was inducted into the Hall of Legends during a Natural Products Expo West trade show in Anaheim.