Tag Archives: Nutrilite

Revisiting the Origin Story of the Nutrilite Brand

Carl F. Rehnborg in Shanghai wearing a light colored suit and holding his pith helmet in the 1920s.

I’m excited to tell you that in just a couple months, The Nutrilite Story 3rd Edition will be released and available for purchase. Writing the book — all three editions — has been a labor of love for me.

Revisiting the origin story of the Nutrilite™ brand and sharing my father’s experiences motivates me to stay the course sharing my message of health and wellbeing.

When my father, Carl F. Rehnborg, founded Nutrilite in 1934, his vision was to create a company that would provide people with the highest quality nutritional supplements. He believed that everyone deserved access to good nutrition, that everyone should benefit from a plant-based diet.

He also understood that stewardship for the planet is directly tied to our self-interest and our individual well-being.

A Place of Golden Opportunities

In the spirit of my father, I want to share an excerpt from chapter two of the book, “A Place of Golden Opportunities,” to get you excited about the upcoming release.

It’s magical for me to imagine my father traveling east to the other side of the world in 1915 to begin building a business in China. It’s not as if he could just jump on a plane and arrive, after all.

Passport pages
A page from my father’s United States passport.

His initial trip marked the beginning of a life-long journey of discovery and perseverance that created the Nutrilite brand that we know so well today.

When your destiny is to blaze new trails, it can make you feel like a square peg in a round hole. But then when you find the right fit, magic can happen. So it was for my 28-year-old father during the fall of 1915 when he packed all his goods into a steamer trunk, stepped onto a train in Grand Central Terminal, and embarked on a journey that would take him halfway around the world. He would begin a new career in China as an accountant for Standard Oil Company of New York, which everyone called Socony for short. Beyond the obvious adventure of it all, the Socony job had offered him the means to fulfill a deeper pull, something that had been tugging him powerfully since his days at Pratt Institute, or possibly before, toward that mysterious, inscrutable faraway land.

Before my father could leave, he had to pass a rigorous training program in New York, a program that would prepare him for his new life. During this time, he learned all about the oil business—about oil, solvents, fractionation, and vacuum distillations. He studied Chinese culture, history, and philosophy. He also learned about life as a foreigner in China—how visitors could live in foreign concessions that had the look and feel of their home country. The course was fascinating, but the competition was brutal and the pressure was intense. The class was whittled down from 100 to 20 students in three months. My father not only survived the cut, he thrived in the competitive environment, graduating with honors. His final 200-page project was so good that Socony accepted it as a model for assignments to other men, even putting some of his recommendations into effect. At graduation, the names of the students and their stations were read out. My father’s home for the next two years would be Tientsin (today known as Tianjin), the “City of the Heavenly Ford,” a large port city not far from Peking.

It must have been humbling for my father to stand under the canopy of golden stars in the expansive ceiling of Grand Central Terminal, his pith helmet and pongee suit carefully tucked away in his trunk and try to imagine the adventure that lay ahead. Would it be like anything he and Hester imagined as they had pored over the news, events, and culture of China during their days at Pratt? His long journey began with a train ride from New York through the Midwest to catch a steamship from Vancouver, British Columbia, bound for China after stops in equally exotic Honolulu and Yokohama.

At first, it seemed as if the train would never leave the endless city that surrounded New York, but it soon caught its rhythm and sped through the low mountains on its way to the Midwest. Looking out on the landscape as the train churned on, my father could see the rolling hills of Ohio where John D. Rockefeller had started Standard Oil. He changed trains in Detroit, the city where Henry Ford’s amazing assembly line was cranking out Model Ts so fast that almost anyone could own one. It was hard to imagine that just a few years ago gasoline had been a waste product of the oil refining process, while kerosene for lamps and paraffin for candles were the primary products. In China that was still the case, but when all 400 million Chinese could afford motor cars—well, the future was almost unimaginable. It was a new century and a new world in which technology fueled by oil would make everyone’s life better, and my father was now to play a part in this business, a business of almost limitless potential…

Keep reading my blog for more information about the upcoming release of the new book.

I can’t wait to share it with you!


Going on Tour, and Going Full Circle

Last month, Francesca and I toured through Asia visiting China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan. The trip was an opportunity for us to talk about Amway’s leadership as a Health and Wellbeing company and to begin celebrating the upcoming 90th anniversary of Nutrilite.

Throughout my visit, I spoke to employees, company leaders and – from the stage – tens of thousands of Amway Business Owners all of whom were eager to learn more about the legacy of the Nutrilite™ brand and the power of nutrition in today’s world. Many leaders have enthusiastically embraced the Product of the Product philosophy and are doing all they can to improve their health and wellbeing, and their outlook about the future. 

In the Beginning

It’s what my father, Carl F. Rehnborg, envisioned when he founded Nutrilite nearly 90 years ago. He was an adventurous man who was innately curious. As a young entrepreneur living and working in China in the early 1900s, he spent lots of time building his business by traveling throughout the Chinese countryside.

While doing so, he made the quintessential observation that ultimately led to the creation of the Nutrilite™ brand: People living in the countryside were much healthier than people living in the city; they were more physically active, and they ate more fruits and vegetables.

Historical image of man standing in front of steps leading up to a building facade.
Photo of Carl F. Rehnborg in Shanghai, Picture During the Years of 1915 and 1916, Carl F. Rehnborg was an accountant with standard Oil Company of New York, in Tientsin, China, which is in the northern part of the country

But let’s rewind and think about this. Just getting to China from the United States in the early 1900s was a monumental task. For him, it included traveling across the continental United States, and then extended passages across the Pacific Ocean where he had lots of time to dream about the future, and the opportunity to learn about a completely different culture – and build a business.

As a young businessman, he started off in China representing Standard Oil selling cooking oil traveling up and down the Yangtze River. But, again, based on his observations, he believed that selling canned milk in China would serve an immediate need and benefit the Chinese population. He soon returned to the States and was able to convince Carnation Milk to let him represent their company in China.

It was while selling canned milk and becoming more embedded in Chinese society, that he realized most people he was interacting with had nutritional gaps in their diets that plant materials could help fill. He also soon understood that eating well, exercising, and leading a healthy lifestyle was the best way to combat poor health. Simply because it helps prevent problems from occurring in the first place.

So, from the very beginning, through my father’s observations, a deep understanding of health and wellbeing has been engrained in the DNA of the Nutrilite™ brand.

The New Opportunity

Today, Amway understands how Health and Wellbeing can help improve peoples’ quality of life and help increase health spanhelping people live better, healthier lives. The commitment to Health and Wellbeing is coming to life in different ways across the globe, but everything is rooted in a consistent direction.

Together, we are focused on six interconnected domains that illustrate how a healthy body, a healthy mind, personal growth, community connection, financial wellbeing, and taking care of our planet can positively transform our overall wellbeing.

Going Full Circle

An exciting part of our Asian trip was the opportunity to share the stage with co-chairmen, Steve Van Andel and Doug DeVos, and CEO, Milind Pant. Spending quality time with them in each country we visited made me realize how interconnected we are and how important our partnership is.

During our final presentation in Taipei, an on-stage interview session between the four of us and Michelle Lin, Managing Director of Taiwan and Hong Kong, I heard Doug say something that truly resonated.

The whole team onstage at the Platinum Rally in Taipei.

While speaking about the direction we are going as a company, Doug said:

“Health and wellbeing is who we were in the first place. And now we’re discovering more about who we are. And if we do that, we can build an even better future together.”

Listening to Doug speak, I realized that we are – in many ways – going full circle.

What my father observed so many years ago is as important today as it ever has been. And it is now at the center of the future Amway is pursuing.

What an incredible opportunity!


The 90th Anniversary of Nutrilite

Believe it or not, next year marks the 90th anniversary of Nutrilite. Many amazing things are in the works to celebrate this important milestone.

For starters, something I’m truly excited about is the upcoming release of The Nutrilite Story, 3rd Edition. The updated version of the book will not only to tell the ongoing story of the Nutrilite brand, but its release will also coincide with the 90th anniversary.

The book tells the story of my father, Carl Rehnborg, and how his insatiable curiosity and dogged determination created Nutrilite. It also shares how my personal journey from childhood up to the present has helped Amway and Nutrilite become what it is today. You’ll be able to get a copy of the book early next year.

That’s not all we have been busy with lately. To help people better understand the Nutrilite story and how my personal life has been so intertwined with health and wellness, I spent several days in a production studio capturing my impressions about the past, present and future.

Here’s a teaser video we put together to give you a taste of the content you will soon be able to see.

There’s even more. During the last two weeks in October, I will be touring Asia – stopping in China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Taiwan – to begin celebrating the 90th anniversary of the brand and all the amazing things happening with Amway and Nutrilite.

So make sure you stay tuned to my blog for updates about my trip.

I’ll talk to you soon!


Travel and the Power of Connection

This past month I visited Malaysia and Singapore and experienced the joys of traveling to Amway markets once again. It was great to be on stage sharing my optimal health journey with so many new people. And I’m so impressed by the passion of the staff and leaders. They are incredibly focused on being the best they can be and building the future of our business.

I believe that when we have the opportunity to experience different geographies and cultures, we often change our perspectives about ourselves. My travels have helped me see the world differently and better understand how connected we all are. And I believe that being able to connect through health and wellness makes our bonds even stronger.

Back when I was in my 40s, I was eager to take the Nutrilite brand around the world. To do this, I felt that I needed to experience the customs and dietary practices of various cultures around the world firsthand. So I set sail on a three-year journey on a sailboat called the Firebird that would take me to 36 countries.

During my travels, I discovered that the people I met with the best nutrition were also the happiest, most prosperous, and most involved in their communities. It was this observation that confirmed my belief that taking charge of our own nutrition is critical to living full, satisfying lives, to going after our dreams, and to having enough drive to act on what’s really important to us.

Continuing in my 50s and 60s, I traveled extensively around the world, helping Amway open up international markets at a record pace, introducing Nutrilite products to 47 new markets over a 20-year period from 1986 to 2006.

My latest trip reaffirmed my belief in the power of optimal nutrition and the incredible goodwill of people all over the world who make up our Nutrilite community.

Here are some photos from the trip.


Trusting Nutrilite Organic Farming Practices

A key reason why consumers trust the Nutrilite™ brand is because of the continual innovation occurring on our certified organic farms. Our farms represent an advanced ecosystem that combines thousands of acres of fertile farmland with sustainable organic farming practices.

The research field at Trout Lake West. Research and innovation happen on all of our certified organic farms.

Our commitment to vertical integration allows us to control the entire production process from the seed planted in the soil to the supplement you eat every day. In practical terms, this means we can maintain a steady supply of the nutritious botanicals used to make ingredients for your favorite Amway products, including Nutrilite™ supplements and Artistry beauty products.

Early Inspiration

The inspiration for our farming practices began quite humbly when my father, Nutrilite founder Carl Rehnborg, started growing alfalfa on a small farm in California’s San Fernando Valley in the 1940s. He simply wanted the purest, most nutritious botanicals for his supplements, and he intuitively knew that they needed to be grown sustainably and naturally, without chemical pesticides or fertilizers. This was before we even knew to call it organic farming.

Farmer using a scythe in field.

I remember helping him harvest alfalfa when I was a young boy. He included me in his daily work on the farm, even when I might have been creating more trouble for him than being helpful. As I reflect on those early days, I can see that his thinking at the time created the foundation our farming practices are built on.

Practicing Our Sustainable Organic Philosophy

Our farms represent the pinnacle of our sustainable organic philosophy put into practice, and we do it on an impressive scale. Even so, the farms are not large enough, or diverse enough, to provide the steady supply of botanical ingredients that go into all our products.

Our flagship supplement alone, Nutrilite™ Double X™, contains as many as 22 different plant nutrients. And if you count all the different plant ingredients in the full complement of Nutrilite products, the number exceeds 190 botanicals.

That’s why we can’t source every plant ingredient found in our products from our own farms. Not to mention that many of our ingredients come from unique geographic locales around the world.

Our NutriCert™ Program

So how do we do it? It all happens because of our NutriCert™ program, an incredible supply-chain system that has been in place since 2004. We just wouldn’t be able to provide the breadth of plant-based products for you without it.

Through NutriCert™ we partner with farmers around the world who have values like ours. In this way we can grow plants with newly discovered phytonutrients that wouldn’t flourish on our own farms. NutriCert™ certification requires partner farms to be traceable, ecologically sustainable, and socially responsible.

On our own farms and partner farms, we can monitor every step from seed to finished product. We can even trace a plant back to the farm and field where it was planted and grown.

Here are some examples of our NutriCert™ program practices:

  • Maintenance of a natural and balanced farm site environment
  • Ecologically vital operations that enhance biodiversity
  • Good agricultural practices that promote food safety
  • Worker safety and development
  • Community outreach and involvement
  • Documentation of farm management plans and production activities
  • Traceability of final ingredient to the agricultural field location

The great thing is that the partnerships we’ve created benefit everyone involved. Farmers benefit financially by learning to grow crops using the high NutriCert™ program standards. This, in turn, helps invigorate the local communities. We benefit by expanding our supply chain in a controlled way without compromising quality. Finally, consumers benefit as we can meet the ever-increasing demand for Nutrilite™ products.

It creates a natural success cycle that continues to improve the products we produce and the world we live in. What could be better than that?