A conversation with Phil Vigeant, CEO of Reliance Private Label Supplements, winner of a 2017 Bpeace Skillanthropy Master Award.
Some companies have an ethos of giving back baked into their missions, making them ideal hosts for Bpeace Fast Runners. Reliance Vitamin is one such company. After completing its third stint as a Bpeace Host Company, CEO Phil explained why he keeps saying yes.
What is Reliance’s claim to fame?
We’re a manufacturer of dietary supplements for the natural product sector. We manufacture private labels for major natural products retailers and do contract manufacturing for branded companies. We also have a brand called Plant Fusion that we sell across natural, specialty and conventional retailers and on line.
How does being a Host Company fit into Reliance's ethos?
We exist for three reasons: to make great products, provide professional development and give back. Being a Bpeace Host Company is aligned with two out of three of these. We exist for three reasons: to make great products, provide professional development and give back. Being a Bpeace Host Company is aligned with two out of three of these.
We like the idea of impacting the lives of people in developing countries, showing people what we do here and giving visitors a taste of New York. Also we have a lot of employees from Latin American who appreciate that we do this. It’s a shared interest across the company.
Tell me about the Bpeace entrepreneurs who came to visit. What was their business and what problem or opportunity did you address?
We’ve hosted Fast Runners on three separate occasions, most recently brothers Josué and Oscar García Novoa, from Laboratorios SYM in El Salvador. They wanted to better understand the American vitamin and supplements marketplace and how to increase their product placement in the market. They met with 12 employees during a mini-rotation through the company, including with our branded division and product development team. We also took them on in-store visits.
Did you feel your team was able to help them?
Our goal was to give them insights into how we run our business. In addition to the branded division and product development division, Josué and Oscar also met with the operations team on manufacturing, fulfillment and distribution and the team behind Plant Fusion. When we visited stores, we focused on teaching them about product placement on the shelves.
How did you structure the visit?
We had them here for three full days, morning through evening. Throughout the day they met with different departments and in the evening we hosted them for social events. With Josue and Oscar we went to a Yankees game and then went out to dinner. We would want an authentic experience if we went to El Salvador and so it’s nice to give that kind of experience in our country.
What do you think was the most surprising thing awakened the Fast Runner’s interest?
They seemed impressed by the facility, the brand team and the in-store visits. Our stores are bigger here than they are in El Salvador so they seemed impressed by the large displays in the supermarkets as well as the vitamin and supplement-only stores.
Did you have any apprehensions about making the commitment?
No. Bpeace does such a good job providing an overview so that we could understand the Fast Runner’s business goals and shape the program accordingly. Our Human Resources Manager Dana Mullen does a great job playing host, setting the Fast Runner up with the right people.
What would you tell someone who is hesitating about being a Host Company?
If they organize the visit ahead of time and make sure it’s a shared responsibility, the whole process will go smoothly.
Reliance Private Label Supplements has grown from a small company that serviced independent natural foods stores when it was a cottage industry, to a leading vitamin, mineral supplements (VMS) supplier today. The company is comprised of three divisions:
- PlantFusion: A leading plant-based nutritional brand distributed in retail venues and online.
- Private Label: Supplying various retailers using 450 stock products and differentiating with over 50 patented and trademarked raw materials, Reliance is a leading private label provider in the natural products industry.
- Contract Manufacturing: Supplying premium powers, tablets and capsules with specialization in probiotics and plant proteins, and differentiated by over 50 patented and trademarked raw materials.
To learn how you and your company can help businesses in challenged economies to flourish, visit bpeace.org.