The Pioneers of Melaleuca

Melaleuca Newsroom text above global headquarters

Melaleuca would not exist today except for the leaders in the beginning who had the faith to put their efforts into a future that was not yet a sure thing. "As the company moves forward into a new era, it is important to remember that we would not be where we are today if it were not for these pioneers, "Frank VanderSloot says. "In the beginning, there were no paved roads, fancy brochures, videotapes, or New Horizons presentations. These people hacked their way through the wilderness."As Frank puts it: "They believed in us when there was nothing yet to believe in." Their faith and hard work has paid off for literally hundreds of thousands.

Joe and Sandy Wise were Melaleuca's very first Marketing Executives. "Frank and I probably came into the business within a week of each other," Joe surmises. In the 18 years Joe has been with Melaleuca, he has received over 215 checks.

"I don't know how the growth that occurred in this company would have turned out had it not been for Joe Wise," Frank VanderSloot comments. "I don't know if we would even have Melaleuca as we now know it. Joe was the first one to believe in us and go to work! He was right there with us from the beginning, and he still works to grow his business and has stuck with us since day one."Joe and Sandy were the first to drive a Senior Director car, which was a Toyota van. The license plate read "T40-C5," in honor of Melaleuca's leading product.

People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that the success they will experience is contingent upon when they enroll, but, as Joe compared the Melaleuca of 1985 to the Melaleuca of 2003 and all of the evolution that has occurred, he says, "The company actually has so much more to offer now than it did then. There are so many more products and the business opportunity is incredible. The time to start this business has never been better. There is so much more potential now than there was when we enrolled. Right now is the time in Melaleuca."

"That's certainly true," says Frank. "But I'm glad Joe and Sandy Wise enrolled when they did. If they hadn't, I'm not sure we would be here today."

Elizabeth Lindberg enrolled in November of 1985, when she was 66 years old, a year after most people retire. Melaleuca was merely two months old at the time. The company had only eight products, all based on Melaleuca oil. "The first appeal was the safety of the products," says Elizabeth. "I was a nurse in a hospital and I saw so many children come in because of unsafe products. I had to let everyone know, especially parents with children, that they needed safe products in their homes."

"It was a very small company," she recalls. "You could talk directly to Frank, and he might even answer the phone. There were only seven or eight employees and it was definitely a family-oriented company. I think it is amazing that they still provide wonderful service today. Even though Frank no longer is the first to answer the phone, the company will always help with anything you need."

Elizabeth has been lauded because of her persistence and commitment to her business-the true definition of a pioneer. It took her eight years of consistent work to reach Executive Director status, in June of 1993, but she knew it would be worth it. "I have a much better retirement than if I had stayed in nursing," says Elizabeth. "I'm able to do so much more because I don't have financial worries. And I keep learning new things and thoroughly enjoy working with the company." It's amazing to think that Elizabeth has earned about 213 consecutive bonus checks from Melaleuca!

"I am just as excited today as I was 18 years ago," says Elizabeth Lindberg. "I thoroughly enjoy Melaleuca, and I've seen so many lives change because of the products. The integrity of the company is so strong, and it starts with Frank. I believe his values are still as valid as they were to start with." Elizabeth is 84 years old today. "I am still so excited-isn't that amazing?"

"Portland, Oregon was our stronghold in the beginning," Frank VanderSloot says. "That was because of Elizabeth Lindberg and two other great ladies, Kathy Street and Bonnie Alexander. Elizabeth loved our products and she told everyone! She made a terrific contribution!"

Ron and Camille Frasure of Pocatello, Idaho enrolled in April 1987, when Melaleuca had about 30 products. "Several things stuck out to me when I was first approached. They said Melaleuca had better products and a better program. They told me how great the products were, and that there was a 96 percent reorder rate, and I thought they had to be exaggerating. And the 5x7 plan really made sense."

As one of the pioneers, Ron has had an enviable perspective. "We've watched Frank grow with the business. His leadership is the key. He's an absolutely phenomenal manager, and has made the right decisions at all the critical points of the company's growth." Camille adds, "The people at the top have great integrity. Our company is an awesome company that deals fairly and knows what's important.""Then we tried the products, and we just squealed over them," says Camille. "We loved them the minute we tried them and it's been the products that have kept us going for 16 years." Ron and Camille were one of the first to become Executive Directors.
"We truly have better products for the money," says Ron. "There's not a company out there that can compete, apples to apples, quality for quality, with our pricing. In our family we have a hard time using under 200 product points a month. The real key to Melaleuca's lasting success is the products-people use them, they like them, and they form a habit buying from Melaleuca as the products keep getting better and better."

"For 16 years this has been a real family business," says Ron Frasure. "You can maintain a true residual income, and if you work a little harder, it will grow. Many in our organization have earned $500 or $1,000 a month for years. We have earned a six-figure income for 15 out of the past 16 years. It's absolutely changed our lives. We were able to get out of debt in three and a half years. We were the first to invite Frank to come over and watch us burn our mortgage. We've been able to change our whole financial situation and lifestyle, and it's been wonderful."

"Ron and Camille have been great examples for everyone," Frank says. "They served on the first Executive Leadership Council and had a great deal to do with the early direction of the company, including the first "New Horizons" presentation. Their leadership was crucial to our survival!"

Evan Frasure, Ron's brother, enrolled one month after Ron. He managed the largest real estate brokerage in Eastern Idaho, so he wasn't exactly looking for more work to do. It was his brother's excitement that first convinced him to enroll. "At that time we had only a handful of products, but I purchased what would be called a Value Pack today and tried every one of them. And I saw the marketing concept was simple, sharing products with friends, and the average person could do it. But I really got serious after I met Frank and saw that Frank had enough commitment and direction to take the company where it needed to go."

"Today it's much easier to build the business than it was in the early days," he adds. "Some folks think only those who get in first succeed, but in reality we had to overcome that. It was a little company with only three or four million in sales. We had to paint a big vision, competing against hundreds of companies that were making the same claims. We called those companies the 'flavor of the month.' We had to convince others we were the bright, rising star and the others were poor imitations. If we hadn't had the quality vision of Frank we would not have evolved into what we have now.""Frank took a small group of leaders and turned a seedling into a mighty oak," says Evan. "He nurtured and encouraged the growth, listened to good ideas and adopted them and knew that the bad ideas wouldn't take long to recognize. The roots of the company are based in the proper principles. Frank had enough commitment to help provide the tools we needed, keep the company together and attract quality people."

Evan reached Executive Director status in January 1989, and has enjoyed many various rewards because of his business's lasting stability in the ensuing 14 years-168 months! "I could always see that you'd be rewarded according to your efforts. I wanted to have flexibility to spend time with my family, to travel and do things I would otherwise never be able to do. I eventually reduced the number of listings in my real estate business, and began to do other things, like substitute teach. I'm a certified teacher, and I enjoy being able to do that even though it doesn't pay much at all. I also have always been involved in politics, and I have served as a state representative and senator for Idaho. Without the stability of the Melaleuca business I wouldn't be able to do that."

Loui Novak heard about several friends who had been successful in their Melaleuca businesses, and he was approached to enroll in June of 1987. "I had an interview with Frank early on, and there was something about his honesty and integrity that made me feel this was more than a fly-by-night business.""Associating with Melaleuca is a win-win situation," he adds. "There are no negatives at all with Melaleuca. The payment program is very fair. If you work hard, you are paid for what you do. If you want to lay back, the income won't be as intense. It's one of the most positive things in our lives, and it's a badge of distinction to be earmarked as a Melaleuca person."From their first month in the business, Loui Novak and his wife Alice decided that they would exclusively use Melaleuca products in their home and get rid of everything else. "And frankly, we could not live without them," says Loui. "They have sustained us during times after surgeries and such when we could have been very ill, but with the health products and everything connected product-wise we have always been fortified and had better health. We just love the products."

"Melaleuca's strength is its deep roots of honesty," he says. "Melaleuca will weather any kind of storm, in contrast to so many other companies and opportunities that are out there," says Loui. "Here is a company for us and our children and grandchildren."

Val Andreason says he's probably the hardest guy to get to join any program. "I've looked at a lot of programs over the last 30 years, and I'm so tough on the criteria I've never been in a single one. Some of the things that attracted me to Melaleuca were that you couldn't hurt anyone financially, there was no front-end loading or high volume requirements, and there are no breakaways and the income is residual. This is the only company that meets those criteria."

"Our biggest strength is the credibility of the company," says Val. "If you compare it to building a house, we have just poured the footings. With all the growth we are going to do in other countries, and still so much potential in this country, everything is possible for someone willing to work the business. We have a product line that is so diversified. The compensation for a new person enrolling is so much greater than when I enrolled. My first checks would have been 10 to 20 times greater with the incentives they have today. Working the business today buys you more freedom down the road."Val enrolled in February of 1988, and had three other businesses and was farming at the time. And although beginning this business only required $30, Val took it seriously. He reached Executive Director in March 1992. "This is not a free gift-you've got to work for it," he says. "But your spare time endeavors don't usually pay you 7% commission. In my spare time, I've been out building the business. I've gotten a check every month for 15 years. And it's allowed me more freedom as I've gotten a little older. I've been able to do things with my family that otherwise I wouldn't have been able to do."

Devar and Madge Shumway just wanted to try the products that their son introduced to them. But they loved the products so much they became interested in sharing them with their family and building a business. Devar was 69 and Madge was 62 when they enrolled in July of 1988 and they reached Executive Director status in August of 1991, becoming one of Melaleuca's pioneering Executive Directors. Since that time they've enjoyed the stability of financial freedom, especially with their large family of 11 children.

Devar adds, "I've been in mining, but I tell people I hit the mother lode when I found Melaleuca. I saw the potential in the compensation plan and the products. I saw a chance for family to help family, helping you get to your goals twice as fast than by trying to do it yourself.""At that time Lewis Rasmussen was coming down and giving little meetings, and he had us so fired up that we started to build a little business," says Madge. "We were all so full of enthusiasm. As my husband and I think back on those days, we know Lewis helped so many of our people down there. We learned to love him for his encouragement. And we got to meet Frank personally and others on the management team."

Although it was a young company, Devar and Madge really enjoyed the first few Conventions and trips they took as part of their Melaleuca business. They continued to build their belief and feed their enthusiasm. Today their enthusiasm is still going, and they have received 181 commission checks in a row from Melaleuca. "It hasn't changed our lifestyle a great deal, but we got out more and met more people, and traveled to new places," says Madge. "We're old now, but we still keep going and keep our team active and enthused."

When Joe Shumway saw how excited his mother was about the products he knew that he should look into Melaleuca further. "The first product I used was Tub & Tile," says Joe. "I took it into our downstairs shower, sprayed it on and scrubbed, and was amazed to see that the tile was white instead of beige. I called Susan downstairs to have her take a look and she thought I had been scrubbing all day. I was hoping the products would be acceptable, but they were exceptional."

Joe had worked in corporate America for years, and knew that there was always a threat of being replaced by the next guy. "You can't get fired from Melaleuca," he says. "You can't lose the work and effort you put into it. It's a business that will last a lifetime. You can build a sense of financial security for your family. Your efforts and your ability to work with your organization and leaders work together to create a stable income for a lifetime."Joe began his business one month after his parents and reached Executive Director in April of 1991. "The first real belief I had in the long-term success of the company came fairly early when I met Frank and Lewis Rasmussen. That gave me the anchor to last a lifetime, and then I could put my heart in it. It was a thrill to sit at the feet of the early management and watch the company unfold. At first Frank proceeded cautiously, because he felt the company was fragile. He saw the problems that had derailed many other companies. He was forward-thinking enough to avoid the pitfalls. All those leaders back then were like the signers of the constitution, a small group of people that started what became such a huge corporation."

Joe knows that it's rare to be a part of such a stable company. "There's real respect and gratitude to those early leaders at the home office who did so much for us," he says. "They believed in us and kept working to make sure the business was strong so we could build our individual businesses. The company was always run in a very professional way and that gave us a lot of confidence in our future. When I look at the times in the beginning when all the Executive and Senior Directors were sitting around one table, talking to Frank, I realize that was just a priceless time."

When Sheila Brown enrolled in Melaleuca in August of 1988, she did it as a favor to her enroller. "She was so persistent," Sheila remembers. "After I enrolled I got a check for $7.18 and I didn't think it was real. When I found out it was, I read the books and decided that I could probably do this. I told myself that I would try it for one year and if it worked it worked and if it didn't it was no big loss."

"At first I wasn't sure if I should believe what I was hearing or seeing, but the more I got to know Frank I realized this was real," Sheila comments. "The more I was involved with the company the more I knew it was going to be a lifetime thing."
Sheila got her business off to an incredible start and experienced great success. "I started talking to people about it and everybody wanted to be a part of it. It was selling itself. I had the enthusiasm to share and it was working for me," Sheila says. At one point, Sheila received a check in one month that was close to what her yearly salary was as a legal secretary. It was almost too good to be true.

As one of the pioneers, Sheila had the opportunity to see the company when it was small. "I believe we were the tenth people in the company to make Executive Director," Sheila says. "Every time we went to a meeting Frank would say, 'You will one day see a room full of Executive Directors and one day we will have a ballroom full of Executive Directors,' and he was saying this when there were 10 Executive Directors in the room! And now, of course, that has all come true. At Executive Leadership Council ever year there are hundreds of Executive Directors and we fill a huge ballroom! He's a man of great vision and a man of integrity and I believe in him," Sheila adds. "Frank is able to see how things are going to turn out before they even begin and every tweak that has been made has been right for this company and have gotten it to where it is now."

As Sheila looks back on her life and how Melaleuca has enhanced it, Sheila says, "Melaleuca is the best thing I ever did. It changed my life because I was able to spend time with my kids and there was no other way I could have quit my job. It gave me freedom. I'm not surprised by what this company has become and I think it's just going to get better."

Melaleuca had started to create a trend of success when Ted and Linda Davenport enrolled in August 1988. Yet they were still among the first to reach their goals of being Executive Directors, achieving that status in June 1990. They've seen the product line grow and expand, and their income has been consistent, month after month, delivering over 180 bonus checks, never having missed a single month since they became customers 15 years ago.

"One of the motivating factors for us was that we could actually see the company's growth directly reflected in our growth," says Ted. "I think we were the ninth Executive Directors. It was a pleasure to sit with Frank on a monthly basis and meet with the management team and see how things came about. At that level, when the company was so small, our growth had so much impact that it motivated us and excited us to do the work.""Even in the beginning, we thought the products were very good," says Ted Davenport. "They were items that people actually needed and wanted to purchase. The business opportunity offered no risk, and was based upon your willingness and desire to go out and work and build an income that would be lasting. That's what drew us to the company." Ted and Linda were members of the company's second President's Club that went on a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea.

"What impresses us now is that all that remains true. The breadth of the product line has gotten better. The opportunity remains the same-we continue to earn a fantastic income. There's an obvious financial benefit to being an Executive Director. It has given us a comfort level in our finances, plus has afforded us opportunities to travel that we would have not otherwise had. We've earned about 25 cars on Melaleuca's Executive Director car program. And just as important as anything else, we have several products that we consider part of our lives, that help us maintain how well we feel and how much we enjoy our daily activities."

What was true in 1989 is true today: enrollees who start out with great experiences with the products oftentimes go on to become great leaders. "We enrolled in 1989 and I got into Melaleuca because the man that enrolled me had his grandchildren involved in our Christian school. I wasn't interested in building a business but I told him that I would try the products." After having three amazing experiences with three different products very early on, they couldn't help but talk to people about them.

Dennis had unshakable faith in the products but he wasn't entirely sure that the company would grow. "When it first started, we thought it was always going to be a little company tucked away with neat products," Dennis says. But their perception changed in 1990. "The company made the Inc. 500 as one of America's fastest growing companies. We were so excited. We bought so many magazines and started parading it around to everyone. Then we made the list the next year and we noticed that people started enrolling because they wanted to be involved with the company.""There were a limited number of products at the time-nothing like what we have today-but without even doing any meetings we had enrolled six or seven customers right away," Dennis says. "We weren't in the business side of it as much as we just believed the products were amazing."

And with the company growing every year from then on, Dennis' unique perspective as one of Melaleuca's pioneers sheds light on why he believes it happened. "The growth that we've seen has a lot to do with research and development. There is a group there, led by Frank, that stays ahead of everything in the market, and I think Frank's attitude towards product development is stellar-he won't let an inferior product out the door," Dennis says. "He won't let the company sell a product unless it's the absolute best and that makes it easy for us to talk to people about the products. That's the attitude the management team has towards all the products."

With 14 years of actively building a Melaleuca business and having received over 168 monthly checks, the West family continues to reap the benefits and the freedom that kind of dedication can bring. "A year after we enrolled, being a full-time teacher in this school and being the pastor of a small church, this company made it possible for us to go full-time with our church and not even draw a salary. The fact that we have had a full-time income with Melaleuca and we enrolled 14 years ago, and for the past 12 or 13 we have been full-time with our church, that is amazing."

Peggy and Wayne Callaway were successful in their professions; Wayne, a tenured professor at the University of Wyoming and Peggy, the owner and operator of four successful art galleries. When they were introduced to Melaleuca in 1990 they had never done direct sales or a home-based business. "From our perspective, we didn't know if Melaleuca was different from other companies we had heard about, but it looked like it could work and it looked like they had good products," Peggy says. "But my curiosity was, how could someone make that much money? I couldn't understand how anyone could make that much money on a part-time basis."

Armed with a love for the products, Peggy and Wayne found it easy to enroll new customers. The first 20 customers they enrolled all ordered Value Packs, and Wayne and Peggy found themselves at Director status in three days.Peggy's curiosity spilled over into the products. "There were only something like 30 products at the time," Wayne says. "But Peggy wanted the 'big box' of products, the Value Pack, even though our enroller told us we didn't have to order it to meet our product point requirement." Peggy fell in love with that "big box" of products and they turned around that day and ordered a second.

Soon after, they attended their first Convention. Not only was it their first Convention, it was also Melaleuca's. "We had a purpose going into that first Convention," Peggy reports. "Our intent was to see what the people were like and what the executives were like." Wayne adds, "There weren't that many people at the first Convention. It was pretty small and it was a pretty small room. I think there were like 16 or 17 Executive Directors. We made a point to meet Frank the very first time and we came back and said, "This is real." Inspired by what they learned at Convention and with faith in the executives, Peggy and Wayne came home to enroll 22 customers, all with Value Packs, the month after.

The undaunted nature of Peggy and Wayne Callaway is evident not only in how they have built their business from day one, but the faith they have in it still. "I have always believed that we will become as big as Wal-Mart," Peggy says. And when she says "we" she means them and Melaleuca. They see no divide between themselves and the company. "We always say 'we' and 'our company,' it is never 'us' or 'them.' This is partnership. We work together." The fact that they have served on the EDC twice and have become valuable assets to Melaleuca's management team is proof.

Their faith in the products is stronger than ever with 13 years worth of product experiences and growing. "Very early on, we were on a cruise in Mexico and Frank and I were snorkeling and got into a pack of jellyfish and I was stung all over my face," Wayne remembers. "Frank had MelaGel on the boat and we went aboard and Frank put it on where I had been stung. I thought, 'I should not be surprised that Frank has MelaGel on the boat!'"

Eventually Peggy sold the art galleries, Wayne retired, and Melaleuca became their full-time endeavor. They have never looked back. "We have no headaches of traditional business and no stress of traditional business," Peggy says. "Melaleuca is all about choice-how to spend our time and spending our focus on healthier activities. It's been wonderful for us." Wayne goes even further, "I have told Frank several times, and I am very, very serious about this, but because of the stress Peggy experienced running the art galleries, 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, her health started to deteriorate. I really believe that because of the products and the business, Melaleuca literally saved her life."

On a fall day in 1990, Neta Wheeler sat back as she had her nails done. The conversation between her and the nail technician turned to business, and she began telling Neta about a company in which her husband had just gotten involved. Neta was interested right off the bat. She asked the woman to have her husband give her a call and she waited and waited, but didn't hear from him. "He didn't call me so I called him," Neta says. "I was persistent. I knew this is what I wanted to do."

Besides believing in the compensation plan, Neta believed in the products. "From the very beginning, we were always product focused. Once I used the products I couldn't do without them. It's wonderful today because there are so many more!"Although Melaleuca didn't have the materials that are available today-"In 1990 we didn't have catalogs. All we had was a little presentation booklet"-she had faith in what she heard. "The day I enrolled, I knew it would work in my heart. I immediately started calling people because I just knew it would work. I knew I could make a hundred thousand dollars that year. My husband told me, 'Somebody really got you, lady.' He became a believer when the checks started getting bigger and when we got a check for $9,000, he really believed it."

She also believed in the company. "I always believed Melaleuca would be around forever. When I went to Idaho Falls and met Frank and saw for myself, I knew it was going to work. I knew what it would be."

With 13 years of Melaleuca under her belt and 156 consecutive monthly commission checks, she still continues to work her business. She has experienced difficulties and setbacks at times, but she has never lost the belief she had from the moment she heard about Melaleuca. "I'm very thankful for Melaleuca at this time in our lives. It has become such a great source of stable income for us. We could not do without it. It's just wonderful."

Jack Kelly was wary in December of 1990 when he went to a Melaleuca presentation as a courtesy to the couple that ended up enrolling him. "I had never enrolled in a home-based business. I had heard horror stories about home-based businesses. I went to sleep during the presentation and Irene woke me up and said, 'We oughtta do this,' so I asked, 'What do they want?' and she replied, '20 bucks.' So I said, 'Then give them 20 bucks and let's leave.'"

For the last 13 years, Jack has experienced tremendous financial success as well as good health that he attributes to the products. "We just had our 55 year reunion and I just couldn't believe how poor the men's health was in general. We take it for granted. I'll be 73 here in a couple of weeks and I'm ready to go to work and some of the men at the reunion didn't even know where they were. I was really grateful I have been using Melaleuca products all these years after I saw the condition of my school buddies."Eventually, Jack's engineering and analytical background got the best of him-he wanted to see how the company operated and if it could do what his enroller had said. "I spent the next week to ten days on the phone with people at the company," Jack says. "I told them I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing and how it worked. I found out from the people at the company that it was even better than our enroller told us it was."

Since his experiences very early on with Melaleuca, Jack has believed that one of its greatest strengths is its integrity. Jack and Irene were one of the first Executive Directors to burn their mortgage. "Frank is so honest, he's spooky," Jack says. "In '94 we got our Total Financial Freedom Award and some people in another home-based business came to the party. They wondered how the heck we got the President of the company to come out and I just told them, 'Frank said he would. He does what he says.'"

He also believes that the changes Melaleuca has made over the years have made the company as successful as it now is. "Melaleuca is a bird's nest on the ground," Jack comments. "If the company didn't have erasers on their pencils and make some of the changes they have made, who knows what would have happened to Melaleuca. What they have done over the past few years have been the right decisions and kept us in business."

It's a business Jack knows will last his lifetime and for many many more, "As far as the longevity of the company is concerned, when you see the Frasures and the Shumways, who have been around there since the doors opened, and they still get a huge check each month… who can argue with that?" Jack continues, "Melaleuca has been the nicest thing that has ever happened to us from a health standpoint, and the income has allowed us to do all kinds of things. It's meant good health and disposable income in our retirement years."

In 1991, Robert Alston was a stockbroker who didn't want to quit his job. On the other hand, he had always wanted to find a business he could do on the side. "I looked at a lot of different franchises and things," Robert says. "My dad always told me, 'The best way to go into business is with high hopes and low overhead.' I was looking for something like that. No inventory. No money up front. No earning ceiling. We were frustrated because nothing came along like that. When we were introduced to Melaleuca we saw that it had all the intangibles we were looking for."

Robert's enthusiasm and belief in the company created incredible growth-he became an Executive Director in four months-and he attributes his success to others in his area that caught the vision at the same time. That vision was fueled by a number of factors, namely, the products and the way Melaleuca was structured. "I knew that Melaleuca was on to something. No question the way it was structured and the quality of the products, you certainly knew it would grow."After enrolling after a presentation he heard in a friend's home, he set out to enroll others by doing his own presentations. But doing presentations 12 years ago wasn't exactly what they are like today. "We didn't have the materials we have now," Robert says. "I would draw on a flipchart to do presentations. It was a much, much smaller company."

"It's been a very impressive growth record," Robert continues. "It goes back to the leadership. Success in the world has always come from somebody that took the bull by the horns so to speak and had the vision and pushed it forward. That is what Frank has done."