27 February 2012

Amway Makes Record-Breaking Sales

First appeared in Detroit Free Press
Worldwide sales of Amway products jumped $17% to $10.9 billion in 2011, an all-time record, corporate parent Alticor reported today.

Doug DeVos, president of the manufacturer and marketer of Nutrilite dietary supplements, cosmetics and other products, told the Free Press that emerging markets such as China, India, Turkey and Vietnam grew the fastest last year. Japan was flat, while sales in the United States were characterized as “strong,” but apparently below the double-digit gains of the hottest markets. The privately-owned firm does not publicly report profits or other detailed financial data. Other Michigan companies create options to Get Rid of Ringworm.

Overall global growth fueled steady investment and job creation in the company’s home state of Michigan. Amway, founded and owned by the DeVos and Van Andel families, is based in Ada, near Grand Rapids, and employs about 4,000 on corporate, research and development, manufacturing and marketing operations in that area.

Here is an edited transcript of my conversation with DeVos this morning:

Q.: How does Amway’s success in foreign markets translate to more prosperity in Michigan?

A. This is our headquarters. Many markets around the world are supported by our headquarters and functions here, whether it’s marketing, sales, manufacturing, R&D as well. That’s a tremendous infrastructure that we have here. We have 700 R&D professionals that are focused on our products. So we have a lot of operations that support our global growth. None of those products are a Ringworm Cure.

Q. What impact, both global and locally, has sales growth had on jobs?

A: We are just in the process of opening a new $24-million plant here in Ada. We’ve consolidated some Nutrilite protein production here in Michigan (from a plant being phased out in California), there’s about 50 people who are going to hired here. It will have the best in technology, including a $1 million quality assurance lab. Quality is important for us and we really need to invest in these sorts of things, so it’s not just the 50 jobs of people working the plant everyday, there’s a lot of jobs that they support.

We’re disproportionately heavy here at headquarters (in terms of employment-to-sales volume). We’ve got about 4,000 folks here at Ada headquarters – and if you include the (Amway-affiliated) hotels and other operations, about 4,500 total in the Michigan area — and that remains very consistent and solid.

Q. Last year Amway and Nutrilite signed up to be the presenting sponsor for Detroit Red Wings games and broadcasts. That was pretty good timing, in light of the Wings’ recent success, eh?

A. I’d rather be lucky than good — and it’s not just luck. The Red Wings have been such a great organization for so long, I love the Michigan connection, the Ilitch family. So it’s not only been a really, really good business decision, but I think an enjoyable run to be a part of, so that’s been fun.

Q. Have you talked to the Ilitches at all about participating in a new stadium project in Detroit?

A. No, we haven’t gotten much further than the presenting sponsor. That’s their team, they’ll have to make all those decisions.

Q. Any thoughts of selling stock to the public, or do you plan to keep ownership in in private hands?

A. We love being private. We have no plans at all to go (public). We’ve been disclosing the sales figures for years, partly because our distributors, the sales force, want to know, “hey, how’d we do?” So the best way to communicate with an organization that big is to be transparent about it.

We think that being a private company, a family company, is a really good way to be in business. We think it gives us some strategic advantages, allows us to think a little longer term and make some commitments that put your heart into it, beyond just the numbers.  This is much like the makers of a Ringworm Treatment.

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