Headquarters: Fair Haven, Michigan
Executives: Jack Fallon, Founder and CEO
Products: Health & Wellness, Skincare
2015 Revenue: $76.8 million
Founder and CEO Jack Fallon, COO John Licari and CMO Scott Bania have turned years of friendship into a company that recently achieved an important milestone: Total Life Changes, or TLC as it is called, edged closer to the $100 million mark in annual sales, and for the first time will submit their achievement to the DSN Global 100 list of the top direct selling companies in the world.
At the company headquarters in Fair Haven, Michigan, there is excitement, as there should be. The last few years have seen phenomenal growth in revenue and the number of Independent Business Owners (IBOs), with ongoing expansion plans in the works.
Founded on Integrity
It may sound like a familiar story, one you may have read about the humble beginnings of Apple, Google, Dell or Microsoft; like those modern industry giants, TLC had its beginnings in a basement. Jack Fallon had been employed on the assembly line at Ford Motor Co. but had been drawn to the direct selling model for some time.
“If you are an entrepreneur you are attracted to ways to earn extra income,” he says. “I was intrigued by the industry because of the great stories, through product testimonials and income testimonials, about how this business model could be duplicated for people throughout the world.”
While at Ford, Fallon had seen firsthand how processes were the keys to production and driving success. He believed what could be accomplished in a manufacturing plant might translate well to an industry known for duplicating success. “Processes relate to human beings as well,” he says. “I thought if I could duplicate [what was done at Ford] on a smaller scale for MLM, we definitely could be efficient and effective.” So he began the company in his basement in 1999, sharing space with his wife’s beauty salon. In 2002 he decided to devote more of his time to building the company, incorporating the business when he separated from Ford.
|Total Life Changes headquarters in Fair Haven, Michigan.
Licari also was working on the assembly line at Ford when he met Fallon. He helped with the business on a part-time basis until joining the company full time in 2003.
“We basically had three of us working in the basement,” Licari says. “We would drive in a pickup truck to Detroit Metro Airport and pick up the shipments of NutraBurst (the company’s first product). Then we would drive it back to the office, carry it down to the basement, process the orders, put the postage on the packages and carry everything back upstairs. We were making postage runs a few times a day for years and years.”
As the company grew, offering wellness and skincare products, the small group eventually took over the entire basement. In 2010, the team took a leap of faith and moved into a 3,500-square-foot facility that, Licari shares, made them all a little nervous. “We finally emotionally detached ourselves from that basement,” he says. “It was comforting for us; it’s where it all started. When we moved into the new place we thought, This is huge.” In a little over a year they had outgrown that space and added an adjacent 1,600-square-foot facility. The continued growth of the company over the past few years forced them to move again; in 2015 they leased a 24,000-square-foot facility that Licari sees them outgrowing in the next 12–18 months.
From the beginning, Licari says Fallon’s commitment to TLC has never wavered. “His overall vision and his overall view of how he wants things to happen have always been constant, and I think that is important,” he says. “We’ve had a lot of talks about important decisions. He has been someone I have been able to turn to when things have not gone so well. He has always been that positive figure and has that calming effect that so many great leaders have.”
For Fallon, being a great leader means creating a diverse culture through relationships with IBOs from all walks of life, and achieving his ultimate goal: helping people to live healthier lives while building income. What he considers the hallmark of his leadership, though, is the insistence that all TLC employees and IBOs have integrity. “We want people who really fit in with the culture we have created.”
Committed to Transparency
Those who do fit in now number 150,000 IBOs, 85 percent of whom are women. When the company first began, Fallon and his team targeted the Latin and South American markets because the people loved the products and understood their vision. Today the company has established offices and order-processing facilities in 15 countries, and also ships and distributes to approximately 80 more. Since the addition of key regional and national leaders in the North American market, revenue has jumped 465 percent in the past year, and 5,000 new affiliates are joining a week, the majority coming from major locales such as Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, Miami, Maryland and Chicago. According to Bania, the TLC website is getting 1 million hits a month, prompting the company to restructure its servers.
Currently the company is entering additional markets in Europe and Asia. “We are in the process of finishing up e-registration and opening an office and fulfillment facility in the Netherlands, which will be finalized in the third quarter of this year,” Licari says. Taiwan and the Philippines are the next markets in the expansion plans.
With the company growing so quickly, the challenge has been to keep up with the requests coming from abroad as well as manufacturing enough products. These issues are two areas in which the company has spent considerable time and effort the past year.
TLC partnered with an industry vendor in 2015 to create new tools to support its IBOs. In July 2015 they launched Momentum magazine, which gives prospects an inside look at the company and its products. Prior to that the company had rebranded its home party kit, which included samples of the company’s most popular products, and created an e-commerce site called ShopMyTLC.com, which offers on-demand print and personal development tools as well as company apparel.
However, the project that has most excited the team is the new business starter kit, which was launched in January at the company’s event in New Orleans. “We are very proud of how it turned out and for the value that we offer to our reps,” says Bania, who also saw the beginnings of TLC in Fallon’s basement office. “For under $40 they receive a significant amount of tools and information right away.” The kit includes three magazines, a quick-start guide for guidance on what to do in the first 24 hours of starting their business and a business planner outlining what should be accomplished in the first 30 days. Personal development tools, such as Jim Rohn CDs and a copy of The Compound Effect by author and personal development speaker Darren Hardy, also are included.
|TLC’s packaging and fulfillment are in full swing.
“When someone is introduced to the products they have to decide to be a customer or distributor,” Bania says. “If they want to pursue the opportunity, they just select from one of our qualifying products and pay for a starter kit.” The kit typically arrives to the prospect within two to three business days. “We don’t want these new reps to lose the excitement when they join something and have to wait, wait, wait,” he says. “So we do express shipping on those to get them into the hands of people right away.”
One of the key elements to TLC’s success, Bania believes, is the openness with which the company communicates with IBOs, especially new reps. “We are very transparent on how we communicate and what we communicate to the field,” he says.
In fact, when explosive growth in late 2014 through early 2015 caused back orders on their signature products, directly affecting recruiting efforts, TLC turned to its popular health and wellness coach, Clark Bartram, to assist in communicating the truth as to the backlog. Bartram, a well-known fitness professional and International Sports Sciences Association master trainer, has a history in MLM and understood the situation. He quickly conveyed what was happening to the field. “Clark was instrumental in being transparent,” Bania says. “He is our No. 1 spokesperson and advocate. He put himself out there to answers questions.”
The other major concern for the company in light of the explosive growth was re-evaluating the supplier base and making some tough decisions on whether the suppliers they had would be able to scale with the company as it grew.
“We’ve had to sever some long-term relationships with suppliers and manufacturers of our products,” Licari says. “It was sad because, ultimately, we are a family company, with a family atmosphere; but at the end of the day it is not personal, it’s business.”
Getting in front of their growth from an infrastructure standpoint, including the addition of a new building, more employees and more tools for IBOs, was just as critical as finding a supplier base and merchant processors that really understand TLC’s business and who could help them move the company forward.
Daring to Be Different
TLC is all about change—changing lives spiritually, mentally, physically or monetarily. It helps customers and IBOs do that through three product lines: Nutritional, Skincare and Iaso™ Café products.
The biggest seller from the Nutritional line is Iaso Tea, a blend of nine herbs—holy thistle, persimmon leaves, papaya, blessed thistle, malva leaves, marsh mallow, myrrh, chamomile and ginger. The skincare product line includes a patented skincare product that Bania says “is actually like a living culture; it takes three days to make a one-ounce bottle.”
The company’s third line of products is its Iaso Café offerings, an assortment of premium coffee beans, gourmet blends and hot cocoa.
Fallon’s philosophy is that while TLC’s products may be competitive with those of other direct sellers, those companies are not the competition. Retail is the true competition—the global brands that dominate the wellness and beauty categories.
Currently the executive team is focused on the “1 Team, 1 Dream, 100,000 Families” goal of making 100,000 families achieve $1,000 a month. Licari says, “In 2016 our goal is to teach people to make $250 per week, especially single moms who work part time trying to change their lives and those of their families.”
Integrity. Transparency. Different. These words are the core of the culture Fallon, Licari and Bania have created at TLC, one that is making the company a rising star in the direct selling industry. For Fallon, however, he would add one additional word to describe his feelings toward the company: grateful. “I come from a place where I am grateful for the people I am surrounded by.”