SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) — Now Foods has single-handedly changed the health food industry around the world with yearly sales reaching about $400 million.
Its headquarters is in the Chicago area, but approximately 300 workers report to the company’s 165,000-square-foot manufacturing plant along Vista Boulevard in Sparks.
Now Foods sells health products to all 50 U.S. states and 60 countries, including the United Kingdom, South Korea and Dubai.
The company has enjoyed 33 years of consecutive growth with sales increasing between 8 and 9 percent during the last three years.
CEO Jim Emme says this success was sparked by a customer complaint made in 1968, when Elwood Richard owned two health food stores in the Chicago area.
One day a customer called Elwood a "dirty robber" for charging more for one a product than a nearby competitor.
"When Elwood called the company that manufactured that brand they told him, 'Hey look, you've got to buy truck loads to get the price that they have and he couldn’t afford to do that,” Emme said.
Elwood was determined to win. He decided to create his own health food product line. His items were so affordable he became a supplier for other stores.
"And that's how it kind of got started,” says Tom Riddle, General Manager for the Nevada Manufacturing Plant and Distribution Warehouse.
Elwood's vision, to make good health choices available to everyone and not just the affluent, continues today.
"We're all about value and our definition of value is the best quality product at the best possible price,” Emme said.
Workers in Sparks produce Now Foods products 24 hours a day at least five days a week to supply the world with its growing demand for the company’s 1,400 products.
"It's definitely a testament to the man,” said Riddle.
Now Foods CEO and managers say they work hard to promote a culture of respect, fairness, honestly and kindness. This attitude starts with Emme. He says he visits the Sparks facility every 6 to 8 weeks.
"Treat everyone with respect. Yes, we want to get the job done, but we want to treat people fairly. We want to be nice to our vendors. We want to be nice to our customers. We want to be nice to our people that we work with,” Riddle said.
"There's a lot of energy here. I think most of the people that work here, they want to be here,” said Now Foods employee Kathy Kennedy.
She says her favorite product is the organic Brazil Nuts. They are packaged at the Sparks facility. The nuts are delivered in large vacuum-packed bags and repacked into smaller customer-sized bags for distribution to health food stores around the world.
The nuts start their way up a large conveyor belt. It carries them several hundred feet into the air to another system of conveyers and machines that weight the nuts before they’re separated into precise weights and dropped into individual bags.
The bags are made on the spot right before the nuts fall into them. The bags are then packed into boxes in preparation for shipment.
Oxygen is removed from the bags to help preserve freshness. Industry standards allow the bags to contain five percent oxygen. Now Foods' standard is less than one percent. Workers check the bags to ensure this standard is met.
"The Now brand is the top-selling vitamin D3 product in Dubai and Saudi Arabia and it's all manufactured right here in Sparks,” Emme said.
Making the vitamin starts on the first floor of the Now Foods Plant in Sparks.
Emme says Sparks is the perfect location for Now Foods because the company can ship products to Washington State in one day and Los Angeles in a day and a half.
Some of the products will also make their way to The Vitamin Connection at 2295 South Virginia Street in Reno. The owner is Todd Kehoe. He says Now Foods' products are his number one selling brand. "The quality seems to be near the top and the pricing is excellent,” Kehoe said.
Now Foods is celebrating it's 50th anniversary in 2018. You can buy Now Foods products at Amazon.com, iHerb.com and several health food stores.
Also, now foods is hiring at least 20 positions for its Sparks location.