My recent trip to Amway World Headquarters allowed me to see the future when I visited the archives and records department. That’s where I found a dedicated team of people keeping track of all the materials and artifacts we’ve generated over the decades.
The climate controlled, state-of-the-art facility is preserving Nutrilite and Amway history, and it’s providing a glimpse into a future that’s still connected to our past.
Let me explain with a brief history lesson.
The Nutrilite story started when my father, Carl Rehnborg, discovered the power of plant-based nutrients, and their impact on human health, while living in China more than 100 years ago.
While traveling the country, he saw that people living in rural areas were much healthier than those living in the city. They were more physically active, and they ate more fruits and vegetables. By contrast, city dwellers were more sedentary, and their diet was less diverse.
He realized that people who were missing these plant-based nutrients that, at the time, he called “associated food factors” – later they would be known as phytonutrients – were not as healthy as they could be.
He personally came face-to-face with the reality of poor nutrition when he and his family were trapped in an isolated settlement in Shanghai during civil war battles in 1927. During this several-month period, the whole city was essentially locked down while warring factions fought.
With food supplies growing short and noticing the signs of malnutrition among other inhabitants, he would gather whatever greens he could from the settlement’s parks and gardens and whatever foodstuffs he was able to persuade the guards to bring him to prepare soups and gruels.
He even added rusty nails and bones to his concoctions whenever he could, knowing that they would provide supplemental iron and calcium and other valuable minerals. He passed out samples to his friends and neighbors. Dad and the family ate it, and he encouraged everyone who would listen to do the same.
He survived the experience and returned to Southern California later that year with $40 in his pocket.
The time he spent in China and the simple observations he made about nutrition became the seeds of an idea that inspired him to create what is believed to be the first multivitamin/multimineral food supplement in the North American marketplace in 1934. He founded Vitamin Products Company, and later changed the company name to Nutrilite in 1939. It wasn’t without personal trials and tribulations, but my father believed in his dream and worked doggedly for many years to turn it into reality.
The fundamentals of the Nutrilite origin story still hold true. Carl Rehnborg believed in eating healthy, colorful whole foods, supplementing the diet with plant-based nutrients, regular exercise and activity, and a positive mental attitude based in curiosity about the world.
Simply put, these ideas of prevention and optimal health still hold true for the Nutrilite brand and Amway of today and in the future.
What I saw in the Archives
At this point I’m sure you’re wondering what I saw when I visited the archives. Here’s a gallery of photos and ads from the early days of Nutrilite.
I hope you’re able to see the future in our archives just like I did. We’ve come a long way in nearly 90 years.
The future is bright.