Immunotec has quite a compelling story to tell. Its 20-year history is rooted in groundbreaking scientific research and product innovation, which began 40 years ago in Canada.
Headquarters: Vaudreuil-Dorion, Canada
Top Executive: CEO, Mauricio Domenzain
2017 Revenue: $101.5 Million
Products: Immune-Boosting Supplements
But the story isn’t over—by a longshot, according to new CEO Mauricio Domenzain. A big dose of personality and focus on culture is setting the company up for its next chapter of success.
Immunotec was actually founded as Immunotec Research in 1996. It was born out of the work of medical researcher Dr. Gustavo Bounous. In 1978, Bounous initiated a novel program in conjunction with colleagues from the McGill University Faculty of Medicine in Montreal, including Dr. Patricia Kongshavn, to search for a dietary protein source that would boost the immune system. The process took 15 years, but it led to the development of a high-quality, bioactive material given the name Immunocal, which helped to sustain normal glutathione (antioxidant) levels.
By the mid-1990s, the scientists had teamed up with veteran network marketing entrepreneurs to found the company now known to the world as Immunotec.
Helping People Live Better through Science
The company’s two flagship products, Immunocal and Immunocal Platinum, have been widely used by many for more than two decades, and the company can boast that its flagship product is backed by an ever-increasing number of clinical studies. It’s even listed in the prestigious Physician’s Desk Reference, the comprehensive drug reference book used by doctors, nurses and pharmacists.
Scientific credibility and superior quality are fundamental to the company’s brand DNA and are reflected in the tagline: The Science of Living Better. According to Mimi Cohen, vice president of marketing, “This tagline also speaks to our exceptional business opportunity that is designed to help people live better. Immunotec’s powerful combination of scientifically proven products and generous compensation plan is our unique selling proposition.”
Immunotec currently operates in six markets worldwide: Canada, Mexico, United States, Dominican Republic, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Two other markets in Latin America will open in 2018, with Guatemala this month. “Increasing our footprint in the Americas and beyond is perfectly in line with our ultimate mission encompassing 40 years of research, to educate people in the Science of Living Better,” says President of Immunotec USA Meredith Berkich. “The incredibly strong connection between the Consultants in different countries creates a high level of enthusiasm and engagement, which is behind the more than 50 percent increases in sponsorship month over month, double-digit growth year over year, and what drove sales beyond the $100 million annual revenue mark in 2017 for the first time in the company’s 20-year history.”
Meet Mauricio, Immunotec’s New CEO
Another milestone was when the company was acquired in May 2017 by Immuno Holding, a company led by Mauricio Domenzain, who was a former top executive of a prominent global direct selling company, with relevant expertise in the Mexican and U.S. markets and a passion for the network marketing channel.
“I am passionate about quality, and part of ensuring you have quality products, operations and customer service is to question everything. There are no sacred cows.”
—Mauricio Domenzain, CEO, Immunotec
His interest in Immunotec was immediate, because of its solid foundation and years of commitment to scientific discovery. “There aren’t very many companies that can say they have 40 years of experience in research and development,” says Domenzain. “I was looking for a company that aligns with my values, culture and vision, and saw huge potential in Immunotec. In addition, what I mainly fell in love with was the amazing leadership. They are the best I’ve ever seen.”
Berkich, who Domenzain hired to help develop the North American market, says the company is equally enamored with Domenzain. “As people have described Mauricio’s entrance to me from both the field and corporate side they refer to him as a breath of fresh air,” she says. “All of a sudden it wasn’t just about the science, which can be an intimidating topic to talk about, and he has really brought a profoundly human element to the company that everybody can feel, and everyone is excited about.”
Berkich says consultants who have been working the business for the past 10 to 20 years—some who have been dormant for years—have been inspired not only with his leadership style, but more importantly the cheerful enthusiasm he is bringing to the company and emphasis on choosing to be happy. “A lot of the reason why people aren’t happy is because they’re so overwhelmed with fear and worry,” says Berkich. “And we all know that network marketing is the place where freedom can happen if you apply yourself and work hard.”
Domenzain says his first focus is establishing a culture, which he feels the corporate office and field are welcoming with open arms. “It can sound a little bit cheesy I know, but I truly believe that if you are happy you can perform to your best ability.”
The seeds of his cheery optimism comes from his father, who he says never showed any resentment or negativity, even when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which took his life when Domenzain was just 26. “He was always enthusiastic, and people loved to be around him,” he says. “He would always say to me, ‘keep smiling, life is good, so celebrate with me.’ I’m trying to share this culture of happiness and celebration, but with results driven by action.”
It’s Domenzain’s focus on creating an emotional connection and a true partnership with the field that guides Immunotec. “We have incredibly talented and inspiring individuals on our corporate team who care about each other and our consultants,” he says. “It is vitally important we treat our people with the highest level of respect so they know how much we appreciate them.”
It’s a Celebration, Not Just Recognition
The new culture was on full display at Immunotec’s recent annual convention this February, appropriately themed Be Spectacular. Domenzain told the corporate team he has great plans for such events with not only recognition of people onstage for their accomplishments, but everyone celebrating those accomplishments right along with them as a family.
With the science engine and research division driving development from Montreal, the company is opening a new call center in Mexico and committing major resources into expanding the U.S. market.
According to Domenzain, attendance for this recent event exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations, reaching a total of 4,500. Veteran consultants who hadn’t been to an event in a long time, as well as field leaders and new consultants alike, said it was the best convention they have ever attended. “That’s not just me saying that,” Domenzain says. “I’m using their words.” Other feedback he received from the field was that consultants loved the tone of the event and that there was a firm action plan in place.
One of the actions was to bring an experienced direct selling executive like Berkich onboard. “Meredith brings a lot of experience in the industry, a lot of wisdom and passion for network marketing, and it has made a big impact so far. The field is very happy she is with us,” he says. “We are committed, not only to quality products but to bringing quality people to the table.”
Part of this commitment included making it very clear he and the executive team would be going through every area of the business, department by department, asking tough questions like “will this activity help us accomplish our mission?” “does it tie into our culture?” and “does it lead us to a place of happiness, contribution and results-driven activity?”
“I am passionate about quality, and part of ensuring you have quality products, operations and customer service is to question everything. There are no sacred cows,” Domenzain says.
As Immunotec executives look at the competitive landscape of how people work and how they are competing with the likes of Uber and the continuation of the shared economy, they understand the need for a robust technology platform. This exercise has already paid dividends, says Berkich. “In phase one, we are finding that some of our technology needs updating in order for us to support where we need to be in the future, and to keep up with the trends we are experiencing in the industry.”
Expanding the North American Market
Although Immunotec was birthed in Canada, executives are making the necessary moves to become more present on a global scale. With the science engine and research division driving development from Montreal, the company is opening a new call center in Mexico and committing major resources into expanding the U.S. market. This is evidenced by the construction of a new facility in Houston, Texas, which is breaking ground this spring and will become the center of the company’s customer and consultant experience.
“Our new office in The Woodlands (Houston) will be a showcase for the celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit and the quest for happiness,” says Berkich. “We look forward to having a lot of blue carpet events where visitors can experience how much we value this industry that we are so proud to be a part of.”
Simplified Tools, Tied to Their Daily Activity
New Immunotec consultants enjoy top-level support from the corporate office in the form of a personalized e-commerce website, as well as professional sales tools to help them share the message of their products and opportunity.
This is another area of the business the Immunotec sales and marketing teams are reviewing with the field leadership, looking to streamline current tools into a more simplified system—something that ties into a consultant’s daily activity, especially that new consultant who is eager to get started. “We want to maximize those precious first 30 days of a new consultant joining the business,” says Cohen. “We want the tools to become a natural part of their daily life, an extension of their daily activities, not asking them to do anything that makes it feel awkward or strange.”
Company executives also are planning a tool summit later this year where they will invite field leaders to help them in assessing every single consultant tool to ensure the field is getting the results they are looking for. Executives are eager for feedback as well, so they can meet other needs and wants of consultants.
Cultivating Learning and a Love of Science
Immunotec has a long and inspiring history of helping those in need, including their Immunotec Children’s Fund, the company’s philanthropic flagship, which was established to continue Dr. Gustavo Bounous’ dream of improving the lives of underserved and underprivileged children. In the last year the company gave $100,000 to two children’s causes and helped with disaster relief in Puerto Rico, Houston and Mexico City. “We are also taking a step back and looking at our philanthropic focus,” says Berkich. “Not only in our design will we continue to give to the causes that we have supported in the past, but we are looking at launching in the fall a new initiative that will align our company’s unique history.”
Education, learning and discovery are all pieces that make up the core of Immunotec, which makes focusing on future generations so important, says Berkich. That’s why Immunotec wants to extend its humanitarian support to provide resources that encourage children to pursue higher learning.
Commitment to Research and Development
One thing that will always continue at Immunotec is its commitment to innovation and development. “This was a research company before it was a network marketing company,” says Patrick Montpetit, chief financial officer. “With Mauricio’s leadership, we will continue to invest millions of dollars in research to help fulfill our promise of science helping people live better lives.”
The goal, says Domenzain, is not being the biggest company in relation to sales, but to be the gold standard when it comes to high-quality products as well as developing a culture of happiness and celebration throughout the company. “We will also continue the vision of Dr. Gustavo Bounous to have a box of Immunocal in every household in the world,” he says. “I know that’s a big dream, but if you don’t dream big you don’t succeed.”