USANA Health Sciences Inc. said Thursday that it plans to enter the energy-drink industry, and company executives already appeared re-energized as they kicked off the company's international convention.
After all, the Salt Lake-based company has put a lot of trouble in its rear-view mirror. With at least 8,000 conventioneers converging on EnergySolutions Arena on Thursday, the officials knew they no longer had to worry about now-settled litigation against a bitter Internet critic of the company, a now-over wave of short-selling of the company's stock and uneasiness in the first two quarters of the year as the recession took hold.
"As recessions come on, our industry takes off," chief executive officer Dave Wentz said at an afternoon media briefing.
The company's 16th annual convention, running through Sunday at the arena and the Salt Palace, will be filled with announcements designed to move the company forward as it continues what is expected to be its seventh consecutive year of record sales.
Among the announcements:
• The company will begin operations in the Philippines by early next year, entering one of the 25 largest markets worldwide for direct sales, with annual direct-sales revenues totaling about $500 million.
• USANA will begin offering Rev3 Energy, a canned energy drink, and the Rev3 Energy Surge Pack, a mix-with-water powder version of Rev3 Energy. The company's first energy-drink venture is designed to be "a healthy alternative drink like the Red Bull and other mass-market energy drinks," according to Tim Wood, executive vice president of research and development.
Wood said Rev3 Energy will be "more than just caffeine and sugar" with vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients and is formulated to eliminate the "crash" associated with energy drinks shortly after the rush they provide.
• New compensation enhancements will help associates attain bonuses, including one program offering 1 percent of the company's sales volume to the top 25 income-earners each quarter, "so that we can be one of the high-paying companies to the people who are sharing our success," Wentz said.
• A management restructuring will provide more support for associates in Asia. "We've been trying to support the world from Salt Lake City, and that's tough with time zone and language difficulties," Wentz said.
The company has about 157,000 associates worldwide, including 75,000 "preferred customers," or people who have purchased products in the past three months. It had net sales of $109.2 million and earnings of $10.1 million during the second quarter, and it is expecting full-year net sales between $435 million and $445 million.
Dan Macuga, vice president of marketing and public relations, expects this week's announcements to rev up attendees beyond their usual verve."They're fired up and charging the doors," he said Thursday. "And we've got people jumping on the elevator and hooting and hollering in this place, and, you know, that's not something you get often, and we're only halfway into Day One. It's exciting."