President and CEO / USANA Health Sciences, Inc.
Hippocrates, the ancient Greek Father of Modern Medicine, once said, “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” And contemporary science has shown that nothing is more important to good physical health than consuming dependable, nature-based nutrition products that allow your body to reach its ultimate state of wellbeing.
Long before Jim Brown accepted the role of CEO for USANA Health Services, Inc. earlier this year, he already had an extensive professional trajectory with the internationally acclaimed developer and distributor of science-based health products.
In fact, Brown first joined USANA – one of the largest publicly held direct-sales nutrition, personal health and wellness companies in the world today – back in 2006 as Vice President of Operations.
In July 2011, he was appointed Vice President of Global Operations, a position he held until July 2012, when he was appointed Chief Production Officer.
One year later, he was appointed USANA’s Chief Operating Officer.
He served in that role until November 2016, when he was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer.
Brown remained in those positions until October 2019, when the jobs of President and Chief Operating Officer were separated, and he became President.
So in July 2023, when Brown was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, he already had a clear and solid vision of where he wanted to take USANA in the years ahead.
“For me, it been a great transition,” Brown told CEO-North America magazine in a recent interview.
“I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been with the company 17 years and have held various roles, a lot of them in operations, and they have all led up to this.”
Brown, a Master’s program graduate from Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina, who, before working with USANA, served as a plant manager for the Sonoco global packaging firm overseeing safety, quality, finance, production and maintenance, went on to say that the role of CEO has differed considerably from his previous posts “because now I’m more involved with our associates, our sales and, of course, running the business totally.”
And, working closely with USANA Executive Chairman of the Board Kevin G. Guest, who served as USANA CEO previously, Brown said that he maintains constant communication with the Board of Directors and corporate associates.
“I am very grateful for Kevin’s leadership,” Brown said upon his appointment as CEO.
“It has been my privilege to work with and learn so much from him.”
And while there is no doubt that Brown is firmly at the helm of USANA today, he said that Guest and he share a common vision as to the company’s key mission and future.
“When we talk to the board and our associates, we talk about this being a Day-One beginning for whatever we are working on, even though USANA has been around for 30 years now,” Brown said.
“We always focus on where the industry is and where USANA is opening new markets. It’s really an opportunity for anyone to come into the business, start up and make a great living for themselves.”
Brown also said that USANA is constantly revolving, staying apace with and ahead of current industry trends.
“We have opened up a new market this year, and we’ve launched some new products, so we’re continuing down that path to make sure that USANA stays relevant with its products, as well as the sales force that’s out there,” he said.
“USANA has always been a science-based company. We were founded by Dr. Myron W. Wentz, an internationally recognized microbiologist, immunologist and pioneer in the development of human cell culture technology and infectious disease diagnoses, and science has always led us first.”
Following in that commitment to safe, efficient and reliable product lines, USANA’s Research and Development Department today is overseen by Dr. Rob Sinnott, who holds a PhD in biological and plant sciences from Arizona State University, as well having completed additional postgraduate studies at Harvard Business School, Wharton, University of Chicago, London Business School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the Brookings Institution, and having developed hundreds of premiere health products and holding over two dozen U.S. and international patents.
“Under Sinnott, USANA continues making new and cutting-edge products that our customers know they can depend on to be safe, effective and dependable,” Brown said. Moreover, Brown noted that “unlike many of the peers that we have out there in the personal healthcare industry, USANA makes or manufactures about 75 percent of our product lines ourselves.”
USANA currently has a 300,000 square-foot tablet production and packaging facility in Salt Lake City, plus a similar facility in Beijing, China, that supplies the Chinese mainland.
Not surprisingly, earlier this year, USANA was named Manufacturer of the Year by the Utah Manufacturers Association for its second consecutive year.
“Of course, from an operational excellence perspective, controlling the supply chain, controlling it from the beginning all the way to the end product, gives us a great advantage from a scientific standpoint, quality standpoint and an operational efficiency standpoint,” he said.
Brown said that across USANA’s 25 international markets and around the world, “people today are far more health-aware and focused on preventive medicine, and USANA has a great portfolio of very high-end products that meet the needs of people everywhere.”
Additionally, he said, USANA has “a well-integrated and firmly established direct-selling infrastructure with a great compensation opportunity for people who want that to be a business.”
“Consequently, we have both of those kinds of consumers in our pocket,” he said.
Last year, USANA reported net sales of $999 million, and the company’s third quarter net sales for 2023 were $213 million.
Looking ahead to the future, Brown said that USANA has a five-year plan to reach more than one million families.
“Right now, we’re at about 470,000 individual consumers,” he said. “We categorize consumers as those who have bought products from USANA within the last 90 days. So basically, we are looking to double the size of our business by 2028.”
Asked how he intends to accomplish that goal, Brown said that the company’s approach will be twofold, focusing both on new product offerings and new global markets.
USANA offers high-quality nutritional supplements, health foods and personal care products that are sold directly to associates and preferred customers throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Mexico, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Thailand, France, Belgium, Colombia, Indonesia, Germany, Spain, Romania and Italy.
And in late 2023, USANA expanded into India, which Brown said “has a huge opportunity for growth, just like China did when we opened there in 2010.”
Just as crucial as finding new international markets, Brown said that USANA, as a global leader in the health and wellness industry, continually strives to develop products featuring new, state-of-the-art formulations.
During its annual Americas and Europe Convention in Salt Lake City earlier this year, USANA launched three new products: a Celavive Postbiotic Barrier Balm, an ultra-hydrating cream that acts like a second skin to replenish and hydrate your skin’s moisture barrier that works in harmony with natural skin to promote the appearance of a well-balance complexion; a 24hr Resolve Nutrition Pack of conveniently packaged, broad-spectrum multivitamins and multiminerals that support the body round the clock; and a Fizzy Energy Drink that provides on-the-go hydration for energy, physical performance and cognitive support in a light, bubbly, citrus-berry flavor.
Each year, Brown said that USANA invests between $10 million and $15 million in scientific research and development so that company is always on the forefront of new discoveries and nutritional advances.
Also, Brown said that USANA has done a lot of work from a supply chain perspective to get multiple vendors across the line “so we’re not depending on just one person for any given task.”
“We found that we could run into issues easily when we were getting a lot of logistics-based delays during the Covid pandemic, so during that period, we really worked on it from an operational excellence standpoint to make sure that we had multiple vendors and that we could count on ourselves,” he said.
Brown said that today, USANA handles most of its logistics issues in-house. As a direct-sales corporation, he said that “the last thing we want to have are back orders.”
By handing logistics and distribution issues internally, Brown said that USANA is able to control its inventory internationally and to make sure that there’s a constant flow of products.
“We really get concerned if there are back orders because that slows down our momentum from a sales standpoint,” he said. “I would say that is one of the key areas that differentiates us from companies depending on third parties to make their products for them. In general, we like to have as much control as we can just to manage our own fate, as well as potentially help us with efficiencies when it comes to cost over the supply chain.”
As a result, Brown said that this year, USANA “expects growth from all of our markets.”
“We have strategic plans and I think we’re in a great place moving forward,” he said. And while, like a lot of companies, USANA faced some financial setbacks and sales slowdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic, Brown said that the personal health care industry is now “seeing momentum again.”
“USANA is well poised to take advantage of that and the company will certainly grow over the next few years,” he said. “In the end, USANA’s success really comes down to the science of our products and the premium quality that we put into them. We will continue to innovate in the marketplace and find new areas that are very relevant to the health industry and people who are concerned about preventive care so that we can help give them opportunities to be in better health and go forward.”