Nu Skin

A view of the Nu Skin building in down town Provo.

PROVO -- Nu Skin has been a part of the community for three decades, but most of its business is done outside of Utah and the United States. Its successes have come in part by the hard work of 1,300 local employees who keep the company's Provo headquarters moving forward.

This month, Nu Skin is celebrating its 30th year in business. Once a garage business with a dream, founder Blake Roney and a huge support system have built on the mantra to "be a force for good."

"Our primary measurement of success isn't money, but the number of lives we touch," said Rich Wood, Nu Skin's chief financial officer. "We are fortunate to be part of this community. We love the people here."

China syndrome

While people are Nu Skin's focus, it hasn't hurt that 4,000 employees and more than one million active distributors and preferred customers around the globe, mostly in Asian countries, generated more than $3.177 billion in revenue during 2013.

Truman Hunt, Nu Skin's president and chief executive officer, announced a 2014 first-quarter revenue increase of $671.1 million, a 24 percent improvement over the same time period from the previous year.

"Our results are particularly encouraging given the business disruption we experienced in China during the first quarter, as well as currency headwinds we faced in many markets," Hunt said.

In January, the People's Daily, a Chinese newspaper, reported that Nu Skin was a pyramid scheme. The company was scrutinized by the Chinese government and fined $540,000 for selling products that only had been approved for retail sales in stores.

"With respect to China, our team took aggressive, proactive steps to address media and regulatory concerns in a timely manner," Hunt said. "While these first-quarter events in China will have a negative impact on 2014 results, we are now focused on generating sustainable, long-term growth."

The Greater China first-quarter revenue increased 63 percent to $278.9 million, compared to $107.8 million the prior year.

"We like to grow profits and stay focused," Wood said. "Financially, we run conservative. We're not living on the edge."

Early days

Founded in 1984, Nu Skin Enterprises, Inc. distributes more than 200 anti-aging, personal care and nutritional products and supplements through direct sales. The company began selling a few products domestically in the early 1980s, and by 1990 had opened sales in Canada. It was in 1991 that Nu Skin began sales in Asia with its debut in Hong Kong.

At home in Provo, the company opened a distribution center and the ubiquitous high-rise tower on Center Street in 1991-92. By 1993, Nu Skin had opened its Japanese market. Five years later, it acquired Pharmenex.

Pharmanex flagship products include ageLOC, Nu Skin's premier brand for targeting the signs and sources of aging.

Nu Skin's growth through the new millennium has been impressive, crowned last year with the opening of Nu Skin's Innovation Center. The center houses the company's research and development laboratories, offices and an upscale workout room for employees. The Spoon eatery on the west end of the main lobby is set off by an extra-large flat screen on the wall, where employees, guests and anyone in the lobby can enjoy everything from March Madness basketball to the World Cup. Roney has even sent messages from France, where he is currently serving as a mission president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Force for good

In 1998, Nu Skin established the Force for Good Foundation. It is by far the most impressive part of the Nu Skin package.

"Nu Skin was created to improve lives. That was our goal in 1984, and it continues to be the vision that drives us today," said Steven J. Lund, Nu Skin's chairman of the board. "Our Force for Good Foundation is designed to enhance that vision by improving the lives of children wherever needs  exist. These children are our best hope for a bright and promising future."

What Nu Skin has done for children around the world is impressive. Its Educate the Children project in Malawi provided 44 post-secondary students complete tuition, books and uniforms. Contributions also helped 21 students receive college diplomas. To date the project has provided 310 scholarships.

The foundation has also built 13 Hope libraries in Korea, granted 48 scholarships to children affected by the tsunami in Japan and donated 5,900 books through the Smile Library Plan to more than 20 schools in Japan.

Nu Skin's Greater China Children's Heart Fund has provided money for 1,100 medical procedures and 70,360 heart scans. Nearly 220,000 cases of congenital heart disease are reported in Chinese children every year.

The foundation's School of Agriculture in Malawi has helped 210 families become self-sufficient. It has trained 396 farmers in new technology, and 6,800 families have received micro-enterprise loans to rebuild their homes after the Sichuan earthquake.

"We like giving back," Wood said. "We try to make a difference and be a force for good."

At home, Nu Skin sponsored Feed the Children and sent relief trucks filled with supplies to those affected by tornadoes in Oklahoma. On June 5, as part of its 30th anniversary recognition, Nu Skin employees assembled educational kits for 30 Title I schools in Utah County. The company also made an endowed scholarship to Utah Valley University.

Giving books is part of the United Way of Utah County's EveryDay Learners program, and Nu Skin's contributions have made an impact on the ability for children in the area to have access to reading supplies.

"A lack of school supplies and books continues to be a critical issue of underprivileged children in Utah County," said Bill Hulterstrom, CEO of United Way of Utah County. "Children who do not have access to necessary school supplies and books can often get left behind. We thank Nu Skin for its employees' efforts and commend them for fostering a 'force for good culture.'"

Employees also cleaned up 13 blocks of downtown Provo on June 5.

What's next

When visitors enter the north entrance of the new Innovation Center in downtown Provo, they might notice, just before the water feature that adorns the lobby, an engraving in the floor. It's a thought from Hunt.

"There is power in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those resolved to make their dreams a reality."

It is apparent that employees and leadership at Nu Skin are working on those dreams continually. It is not always easy, and often Nu Skin's new Innovation Center and the business going on inside are unfairly judged, Wood said.

"Perceptions change when they see us.  It's not what you see, but what you feel inside this building," Wood said. "I think our future is more optimistic than what we've done so far."

Wood said as he looks back over the good and bad times of the past 30 years, the difficulties Nu Skin has faced have helped the company emerge stronger. He believes its mission statement will continue to direct the company toward great things.

"Our mission statement is to be a force for good throughout the world by empowering people to improve lives with rewarding business opportunities, innovative products, and an enriching and uplifting culture," Wood said.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801)344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

A 32-year veteran of covering news in Utah County, Genelle covers Provo, Orem, Faith/Religion, including the LDS Church and general assignments.

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