In part II of our expert roundtable series, featuring Kris Gethin, Marc Lobliner, Mark Glazier and Ryback Reeves, we dive into the world of supplements and sports nutrition. Each on of our panel represents a sports nutrition company they started. We ask the panel questions about their brand, how to survive in today’s saturated market place, what makes them different, their favorite supplements, a must-have supplement and we end with their thoughts on multi-level marketing companies in this space.
Each representative on our panel has years of experience in health, fitness and supplementation. You may recognize common themes among some of their responses. This is due to their strong beliefs in this industry. You can judge for yourself, but we feel that the sports nutrition industry is in great hands with more brands adopting this panel’s mindset.
CEO Kaged Muscle Supplements
Kris is the founder of DTP training method, Director and Co-founder of Gethin Gyms, Main Male Spokesmodel of Bodybuilding.com, and former editor and chief. He is the Director of Trainers for Physique Global and CEO of the supplement brand KAGED MUSCLE which and shipped worldwide and has already become the highest rated and reviewed supplement company in the world.
His passion and determination for building a better, stronger, healthier body and mind pushes him to achieve great things for himself physically and mentally, thus enabling him to motivate and inspire his followers and fans across the world to achieve greatness for themselves. Kris has transformed millions of physiques through his immensely popular video series shown on Bodybuilding.com. including the immensely popular 12 week muscle building trainer.
CEO MTS Nutrition
Marc is currently Chief Marketing Officer of TigerFitness.com, a 2012/2013/2014 INC. 500/5000 company as well as Owner/CEO of two of the fastest growing supplement companies, EthiTech Nutrition and MTS Nutrition.
Marc has been featured in Muscle & Strength, MuscleMag International (Italy), and Ironman (Australia) magazines, and has appeared in Men’s Fitness as a physique model. Marc has authored several print articles that have appeared in trade magazines such as Muscle & Fitness, as well as online at Bodybuilding.com, and has also co-authored 10 books on the subject of physique transformation
Mark is the CEO and founder of NutraBio Labs. NutraBio was created in 1996 on the premise of “Never Compromising” meaning providing quality and transparency to the consumer. Mark has been in the sports supplement industry as a brand owner, formulator and manufacturer for over 22 years. He travels the country as an advocate for improving dietary supplement industry standards, exposing scams and educating the sports nutrition industry on proper supplementation and manufacturing techniques. Mark serves on the Natural Products Association committee for Sports Nutrition.
For over twenty years NutraBio has been committed to providing efficacious and quality supplements. In 2001, NutraBio revolutionized the supplement industry by becoming the first brand to commit to No Proprietary Blends and full label disclosure, banning all fillers and excipients from their products, guaranteeing full therapeutic dosages and manufacturing their own products to control every aspect of quality. NutraBio supplements are manufactured in the United States in their own GMP certified manufacturing facility to meet or exceed FDA 21 CFR Part 111 CGMP Regulations.
CEO Feed Me More Nutrition
Ryback is a former WWE superstar who left the company to start his own supplement company, Feed Me More Nutrition. Through a series of testing over the years, Ryback was able to formulate his own products which are now being produced for everyone in the world. Currently Feed Me More Nutrition has a pre-workout, grass fed isolate protein an all-natural testosterone booster and a fat burner.
Each of you represent a sports nutrition company. In your opinion, what does a sports nutrition company need to do today to survive, and more importantly, to thrive in a saturated marketplace?
Same as any industry, positioning and differentiation. If you do not own a position and do not differentiate, you will either retard growth or fail period.
It needs complete transparency, no proprietary blends, only patented ingredients, stringent testing against banned substances and heavy metals while fully dosing effectively of each ingredient. Some decide to throw all of that out of the window and place all of their investment in marketing instead of quality. This, unfortunately, works to drive sales for the brand towards the unassuming consumer but it doesn’t work for the consumer and the results they are paying for. It’s not the correct way, but it’s their way to thrive.
The sports supplement industry is going through a sort of renaissance right now. Consumers are getting more educated about supplementation. They care more now than they ever have about what they are putting in their bodies. The consumer demand for clean labels without proprietary blends, fillers or excipients and with greater disclosure and transparency is growing. Consumers, now more than ever, are reading labels, doing research, and rewarding honest brands that comply.
Brands need to understand this consumer shift is happening and is here to stay. They must get on board by making the necessary changes to gain consumer acceptance. The brands that ignore this may eventually find that the consumer has left them behind, relegating them to obscurity.
I believe that in any business you have to create a product or brand that delivers. In a saturated market you need to differentiate yourself from the pack. While doing that, you need to take the proper steps to create products of high quality that do what the label claims to do. I can’t control what anyone else does, but I’m a big believer that if I wouldn’t use it, I shouldn’t expect others to.
With Feed Me More Nutrition, I’m simply providing the consumer with a dependable option that will safely deliver results – an option that I personally use myself and believe very strongly in. I use 3rd party testers to ensure every batch of product meets the necessary requirements, in turn providing a high-quality brand to my consumer.
What makes the sports nutrition company you represent different than the others in the industry?
I own this. We own personalized service, truth to label, quality and taste. We were one of the first to be transparent, from the labels to my family life. I feel we owe it to the consumer to show them who they are trusting to be a part of their goal-reaching process.
ABOUT MTS NUTRITION
MTS Nutrition is more than just a supplement line to me. It’s my story. It has a meaning and a purpose. Each MTS Nutrition product embodies my passion for health and fitness and echoes the struggles of my past and the lives that my products help to change on a daily basis.
We have one of the best formulators in the world who previously formulated the Bodybuilding.com private labels and the JYM Supplement Science line. He is fully invested in KAGED MUSCLE as a partner so now he has complete freedom to leave no stone unturned regardless of cost and quality to create the best line in the world. We are the fastest growing company in Bodybuilding.com history with the highest rated and reviewed product line. This is impressive considering we don’t invest much into marketing; this is simply as a result of word-of-mouth marketing from those who have purchased and recognized the difference in quality.
For 21 years, NutraBio has been committed to one important mission: never, ever compromise the integrity and efficacy of our supplements. This mission drives every aspect of our company. In pursuit of this quest, we have made 3 industry-first commitments to our customers, which have set new industry standards for quality and integrity.
First, in 2001, NutraBio became the first brand ever to remove all proprietary blends and fillers from its supplements and to commit to full therapeutic dosages of every active ingredient. It was not a hollow promise but an all-out commitment that we backed by destroying almost $300,000 in under-dosed proprietary blend inventory. This move almost threw us into bankruptcy, but we survived somehow and have emerged a better brand for it.
Second, around 2011 we took transparency to a new level by committing to full label disclosure. This meant disclosing every ingredient dosage, active and inactive, on our label. Not just the doses of the main ingredients but even the flavors and sweeteners doses are disclosed. It meant declaring the exact source of every protein along with its dosage and the corresponding yield of complete protein. With this change, our labels disclosed our entire formulas and left us naked for the consumer to judge.
Most recently, in January of 2017, we went even further by creating the website, CheckMySupps.com. On this site, our customers can enter the lot number of the NutraBio product they purchased and immediately pull up a 3rd-party independent lab analysis of our label claims.
Honesty, integrity, and transparency, along with a sincere commitment to never compromising, drive me and sets NutraBio apart. But we are not alone. There are now other brands with passionate leaders that truly care about their customers and believe as we do. I applaud these brands that are fighting the good fight; it is a difficult, expensive and long-term approach but the consumer deserves it.
I can’t control what other companies do, but I can control my business. For me, it just comes down to what I would want from a sports nutrition company. I believe in using natural ingredients and putting more of them into each individual supplement along with using the natural sweetener Stevia instead of Aspartame and sucralose. Using 3rd party testing to ensure my manufacturers are delivering on their end and that the final products are what I use myself on a daily basis. Providing great customer service and answering emails in a timely manner along with being accessible to my consumers is also essential.
What’s one thing you’d like to see changed in the sports nutrition industry?
The FDA enforcing laws existing on the books would help. We do not need new laws; we just need to enforce the existing laws.
I would like to see tougher regulations on safety, purity, and dosing of ingredients. Some of the leading products I have had tested are absolutely shameful and shouldn’t be sold on store shelves. These are supposedly the best brands in the world, but this is only due to marketing, signing big name pro athletes, promotions, heavy publication in magazines, digital advertising, expo attendance, and hundreds of thousands of sample giveaways, etc., not due to their investment into the ingredients.
ABOUT KAGED MUSCLE SUPPLEMENTS
KAGED MUSCLE has three rules of formulation for every product bearing our name: it has to be efficacious, safe, and backed by science. If a product doesn’t meet all of these rules, we don’t produce it.
KAGED MUSCLE guarantees the potency of its products. We verify each production batch so that what you read on the product label is what you’ll receive in the product.
It is time for the sports supplement industry to adopt the practice of full label disclosure and transparency as the acceptable industry norm. This major industry transformation must happen. Consumers deserve to know exactly what they are putting in their bodies. They should not have to guess or rely on the “trust us” attitudes of brands that hide under-dosed ingredients in proprietary blends.
The use of proprietary blends is an archaic practice that must become a thing of the past if this industry is to maintain consumer confidence and continued growth in the future. Claiming that proprietary blends protect formulas is nonsense. Everyone knows it. Just not all will admit it. Any qualified laboratory can test for each ingredient listed on the Supplement Facts panel and come up with the exact formula. Prop blends do not protect a brand’s secret formula. They just hide the truth from the consumer.
Full disclosure requires that every active ingredient be listed on the Supplement Facts panel, along with its exact dosage. Each ingredient must be listed using its common street name to avoid confusing the consumer, by the way the, FDA requires this. Inactive ingredient doses can also be disclosed. Every protein should be listed with both the amount of every source protein along with its corresponding yield of complete protein. Proteins should be listed by their proper name and designation. In other words, the term “whey protein concentrate” must indicate the exact source, whether WPC34, WPC80, or any other grade is used.
Consumers have the right to know all of this. These chemicals are going into people’s bodies. If a brand believes in its formula it must not hide it. Rather, it should disclose it and stand behind it.
Honesty. I believe that if you’re providing someone with a product (especially one that they’re putting into their body) – you need to be honest with them. As I said earlier, I try to maintain my focus on Feed Me More Nutrition. In doing so, I educate my consumer and help them achieve their goals with peace of mind, knowing my products are not only safe but also effective.
In your supplement line, what is the #1 supplement you are most proud of and why?
Anything with MTS on the label. I am not a brand rep, this is my life.
I would say PRE-KAGED, because it’s the cleanest, highest rated and reviewed pre-workout available. I love seeing people’s results, feedback, transformations and the difference they experience with this product over any other pre-workout.
I am most proud of our PRE-workout line. We created the first ever non-proprietary blend PWO back around 2002 and have constantly been refining it and improving it to get it where it is today. And we are not satisfied. A new and improved version will be launching soon, and I am sure many will follow. It comes in a stim and non-stim version. This is important because I believe that, if you remove the stims from a PWO, it must remain a viable product with true and measurable anabolic and performance-enhancing results. PRE is loaded with over 23 grams of therapeutically dosed active ingredients. No expense is spared and no corners are cut.
ABOUT NUTRABIO SUPPLEMENTS
NutraBio was founded in 1996 with the goal of providing our customers with the most effective supplements. In 2001, we revolutionized the supplement industry by introducing four quality commitments: Never using proprietary blends & guaranteeing full label disclosure, banning all fillers, excipients & additives from our products, guaranteeing full therapeutic dosages of every active ingredient, and manufacturing our own products so we could control every aspect of quality.
Use coupon code INFORMANT to save 5% off all NutraBio products.
It’s hard to say – especially with so many new formulas coming out as the brand continues to grow organically! Being a results-driven individual, I love the entire Feed Me More Nutrition product line.
I think the most detectable results for me though, have probably been from The Big Guy Testosterone Booster. I saw firsthand, measurable results via blood work when my Testosterone levels increased nearly 400 points. Putting properly dosed ingredients (that are actually effective) into these formulas is not cheap, which is one of the reasons our price points are a bit higher than some of the competitors. But, we’re also including more of each ingredient. The same goes for our new fat burner, Shell Shock Extreme Fat Burner, the formula is all-natural and exactly what I’ve used throughout my tenure at WWE. It’s what has helped me remain lean at 290lbs while always adhering to all drug testing policy standards.
If you could only choose one, which supplement would you recommend everyone take? Why?
MTS Nutrition Machine Greens and Multi and Ambrosia Nektar for overall health. Gains are one thing, staying healthy is the determinant of all gains and not getting sick. Plus, dying sucks.
HYDRA-CHARGE. It’s an antioxidant based drink with tender coconut water powder that is naturally colored and flavored. It can be used as a flavoring system to add to all of our single fill flavorless products to such as our fermented BCAAs, fermented Glutamine, fermented Citrulline, and patented Creatine HCl, etc. It can also be used as is to add flavor to your water. Because it tastes so good, it makes everyone who tries it drink much more water than they are accustomed to. It also contains taurine for added mental focus throughout the day. When our bodies are hydrated, we perform and recover much better and generally have more energy.
If I could only take one supplement, it would definitely be RELOAD Recovery Matrix. This product is a 25-gram muscle-building powerhouse, loaded with full therapeutic dosages of 15 active ingredients, including 8G BCAAs, recovery and anabolic enhancers, and strength and growth accelerators. This product can take the place of pre-workout, intra-workout, BCAAs, and post-workout. It really should have been called Extreme Muscle Stack because it is loaded with every ingredient necessary to speed recovery, maintain an anabolic environment, and improve endurance, power, and strength. It is the one supplement that I take twice daily without fail.
That’s a tough call – everyone leads different lives and has different needs based on their budget and lifestyle. For people that are always on the go and have a tough time meeting their protein requirements, I’d say taking a protein supplement to help you reach your daily goals would be of the utmost importance. If someone suffers from a low sex drive and low Testosterone I would say looking into a natural Testosterone Booster before turning to Testosterone replacement therapy should be the number one goal. Maybe you have someone who has it all going on, but they really lack energy and drive as the day progresses, well then looking into an energy supplement should be their priority to help them get over that hump etc. As much as we are all human, we all have very different needs and have to do what suits us best.
ABOUT FEED ME MORE NUTRITION
Feed Me More Nutrition was founded by former WWE Superstar Ryback Reeves. Feed Me More Nutrition featured four sports nutrition supplements: grass fed whey protein isolate, pre-workout, an all-natural testosterone booster and a fat burner. Each product is made with the highest quality ingredients available.
What is your opinion on multi-level marketing companies (MLM) like AdvoCare, Isagenix, Herbalife, Beach Body, etc?
The have to have such low cost to pay everyone off that their quality is absolute garbage. I would steer clear of it.
I don’t care so much about the multi-level marketing; I am more concerned about the inferior products that are being used. Many of them promise they are the best and can save people’s lives when in fact they can be hurting them.
I have a fair amount of experience in the MLM industry, so I am sorry if this answer gets a bit long-winded. Back in the 1990s, I sunk over a million dollars into launching an MLM company. On its face, MLM seemed like a great idea: What better way to get your products out there than to financially motivate people to talk about them?
The company experienced exponential growth during the first couple of years, but once we committed to no proprietary blends, no fillers, and full therapeutic dosages, the MLM disappeared. The higher cost of fully dosed supplements did not leave enough of a margin to support the financial burden of MLM. MLM requires multiple tiers of paying downline commissions that can go as far as 4, 5, or even more levels deep. On the top, you have a parent company that needs to be constantly fed an army of new recruits to pyramid sales upstream while paying hefty commissions back downstream. Commission payout is expensive, so brands often make up for it by cutting product quality and using fillers and proprietary blends to under-dose ingredients and dilute products. For the same reason, brands that focus on BOGOs to drive their business cannot afford the cost of higher-end, fully dosed supplements.
So how does MLM differ from a traditional model of paying commissions to a sales team? The answer lies in a question that the DOJ has been examining for decades: Does MLM actually entail selling products or selling opportunity? The pitfall of many MLM companies is that they build a marketing strategy where the opportunity of the downline distributor to profit rather than the consumers’ use of the product solely drives consumer purchases. With this strategy, product quality and efficacy are not important, so the product becomes no more than a cheap vehicle with which to drive opportunity. When corporate culture and strategy are built around paying end users to purchase products rather than use them, something eventually has to give. Product quality and efficacy are usually the first to go.
These days, many brands have incorporated affiliate programs into their marketing strategies. There is nothing wrong with this. It is a great way to reward influencers and their most faithful. It differs from MLM because the commission opportunity does not overshadow the products.
It isn’t something that I do, but if you have a product or service you believe in and it benefits the consumer and does what it says than how they go about their business is their decision. I am primarily focused on my brand and my message and really don’t form opinions on things that have no impact on what I’m personally doing.