We had been selling in the health food stores for almost 2 years. I was always anxious to expand our product line and territory as I wanted to the revenues to increase. I’m never content with where I’m at – I want to improve and get better.
One of Gene’s friends, Frances Lyman, said, “Why don’t you start selling your products using network marketing – MLM?” I’d heard of Amway and Shaklee but I didn’t know anything regarding this industry. I met with Frances and we talked about it. She said, “It’s person to person selling, and that will be better for your products.” The biggest challenge was helping people understand what our products were, so it had to be one on one. If they went to the health food store and looked on the shelf and saw cayenne pepper or chaparral, how were they going to know what it was for unless somebody told them? We were selling products, but it was slow growth. I thought, well it makes sense – let’s try it! So, we designed a new label with a new name on it. We created a new compensation plan and launched it with Frances as our first distributor.
It was slow at first until a man named DeLoy Aplanalp came by. He had been referred to us by Frances. He placed an order for $1,000 and headed to California where he lived. He lived on what he called a ranch, but it was really only 1 or 2 acres. He had a chicken coop which he cleaned out and turned it into a meeting room. I never saw it, but it probably held 10-20 people. The first night after the coop was done, he invited people over. He called me at 2 in the morning and said “Ken, I need an identical order. Will you get it on the bus in the morning tomorrow and I’ll send you a check?” I was flabbergasted. How did he move $1,000 of products? I didn’t think when he drove off that I would ever hear from him again. I thought there goes $1,000 that I unloaded, but that guy’s not going to move it because that’s so much product. I trusted him and had the product sitting there, so I filled his order and we shipped it off and true to his word his check came. A couple of days later again at 2 in the morning he called and said, “Ken, I need another order of products – same size, same thing.” Then he started to tweak it a bit. For a long time, every night or two, I would get his call until I guess he finally got enough inventory and didn’t need to call me in the middle of the night.
The company was growing and becoming bigger than our health food store side of the business. I decided to drop that portion of our business as I was getting complaints from our distributors. That was one of my bad decisions in life. If I would have kept that side of the business, I could have controlled the competition. When you leave a void as I did, someone steps in and you have created your own competition. Then they won’t be so accommodating to you as you would be for yourself. I had made a bad decision. I should have told the distributors that it was all right to keep the stores and I could make sure it wouldn’t hurt them in the field. But I had followed what they said. I learned that just because people tell you things you have to learn it’s not always the right thing to do. They don’t have all of the information. It may appear to be the right thing to do on the surface, but there are always unintended consequences and there were certainly unintended consequences for this decision.
Another distributor I recruited, Jack Ritchason, came on board and did nothing for 6 months until we had a meeting in California with DeLoy and his group. I invited Jack down and he came to it. The meeting filled a small auditorium. I don’t know remember how many attended. It was a motivational meeting and I was the last speaker. When it ended, Jack came over and was totally pumped up. This is the value of meetings and how important they are and why you need to get people there. You never know when the next Jack Ritchason will be set on fire at a meeting. Jack said to me, “I will be your top distributor; I will outperform everybody in the company.” I thought, yeah, yeah I’m sure you’re not going to beat DeLoy, as he’s placing orders and growing, plus he has a 6 month lead on you. So, Jack went away and hit the road. It wasn’t very long until he was starting to catch up with DeLoy. So, I called DeLoy and said, “DeLoy, Jack Ritchason is starting to beat you, you’d better get to work or he’s going to get ahead of you, so work harder.” Then I called Jack and said, “Jack, DeLoy is getting ahead of you, you’d better get producing.” See, both of these guys were highly competitive and so Jack would work harder and then DeLoy would work harder. I worked those two off of each other for months before Jack got so far ahead of DeLoy that I couldn’t say anything to him or I would be lying. Jack exploded the business! DeLoy kept growing and doing well, but Jack kept going and going like the Eveready battery – he never quit. He was doing it more for the people and success, not the money. If you do it for helping people, that’s the right motivation.
That’s how I got into the MLM industry. It was the right move, at the right time. At that time, there were only 6 MLM companies including us in the world. I had to learn everything from scratch. It became more and more difficult to get into this industry as a company. It was a $1,050 investment to start Nature’s Sunshine, $25,000 to start Enrich International and millions of dollars to start Zija. It’s not easy to get into and compete today, especially without any experience.
Join me on my blog next week as my journey continues…