Idaho Business Review | Brad Carlson |
Melaleuca Inc., the Idaho Falls-based wellness products company that employs more than 3,400, last year posted $887 million in worldwide sales, about 25 percent of which came from overseas, President and CEO Frank VanderSloot said during a presentation April 1 in Boise. That was up by $28 million from 2007.
A down economy brings to Melaleuca more people who are interested in selling its products, he said, following his presentation to a Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Speaker Series luncheon audience.
“More people are interested in some fallback income, some secondary income,” VanderSloot said.
Melaleuca offers discounts to people who buy monthly. It pays a 7 percent commission to existing customers who refer new customers, for up to seven referral “generations” – as product orders continue, so do commissions.
As for product demand now, “good, quality products are in demand always,” VanderSloot said.
Melaleuca employs about 2,300 in Idaho. The company employs people who earn $8 to $10 an hour, but also is the Idaho Falls area’s second largest employer of people who earn more than $60,000 per year, behind Idaho National Laboratory, VanderSloot said.
He spent more than nine years in management with Automatic Data Processing and more than three years as an executive with Cox Communications before joining Melaleuca Inc.’s predecessor in 1985. He quickly shut down the old Oil of Melaleuca, which was under U.S. Food and Drug Administration scrutiny and had a pyramid-style compensation system later found to be illegal.
Organizers of the predecessor “were good people. They just didn’t quite know how to do the due diligence,” VanderSloot said. “They believed people …”
VanderSloot, who grew up on a small farm near Sandpoint and “loved work,” said he advises young people who want to become business owners to start their careers at a big company – where they can learn about employees, regulations, strategic decisions and management.
“Work in a place that’s doing it right,” he said.
Idaho has done a good job in attracting businesses, “but you can run out of people,” VanderSloot said. “Don’t grow too fast.” The supply of workers has increased recently, but the Idaho Falls area’s unemployment rate stood at about 1.3 percent for half of last year, leaving employers hard-pressed to find qualified staff, he said.
A U.S. Chamber of Commerce board and executive committee member, VanderSloot said he and the U.S. Chamber strongly oppose proposed Card Check legislation by which union ballot elections could be bypassed if a majority of employees sign cards indicating they want to join.
“The U.S. Chamber is fighting it hard,” he said. Unions would be able to force more people to join, and many more companies would become unionized, he said.
To read more about VanderSloot and Melaleuca, visit the archives of the IBR Web site at www.idahobusiness.net.