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In appreciation of those companies that lead the way in offering an unparalleled opportunity for individuals to start their own businesses through shared connections, Direct Selling News honored the group during its sixth annual DSN Global 100 Celebration. The awards ceremony and dinner, held April 8 at the InterContinental Hotel in Dallas, served as the backdrop for the unveiling of our exclusive ranking of the top revenue-generating companies in direct selling.
DSN’s John Fleming and Lauren Lawley Head hosted nearly 500 executives from around the world. In fact, the Global 100 list represents companies based in 14 countries this year and is a collective effort to show the impact and potential of the $178.5 billion direct selling industry.
“The Global 100 list reflects direct selling’s breadth, delivering a wide variety of high-quality products and services to customers around the world through a personalized channel of distribution that offers many individuals a compelling path to entrepreneurship,” said Lawley Head. “In its six years of publication, the Global list has become a benchmark for the direct selling community, and we enjoy celebrating the achievements of this elite group each year.”
Fleming added, “The Global 100 listing not only identifies the top 100 companies in the world, but also demonstrates the magnitude of the people involved, and the economic impact being made in the lives of people who choose to learn the skills associated with direct selling. This is a wonderful form of free enterprise, where participation by average people is possible! The list proudly recognizes those companies who are leading the way and contributing to the growth of such an amazing industry.”
For the third consecutive year, Ada, Michigan-based Amway claimed the top spot as the No. 1 direct seller in the world, with $10.8 billion in revenue in 2014. The company is truly a global giant, with a large portfolio of brands—including the best-selling nutritional brand in the world, Nutrilite. Amway does business in more than 100 markets through more than 3 million independent Amway Business Owners.
“It is a privilege to accept this honor on behalf of the Van Andel and DeVos families, the 20,000 Amway employees and the millions of Amway Business Owners around the world,” said Bob Bass, who accepted the award and is Strategic Insights Lead – Global Strategic Planning at Amway. “Sales are certainly an important measure, but they are not the only measure of success, and we thank our Amway Business Owners for that.”
DSN welcomed two very special guests to the dinner, J. Stanley Frederick, Chairman of Mannatech, and Charlie Orr, CEO of Canada’s Immunotec. These individuals have received the very rare honor of being inducted into both the Direct Selling Association’s Hall of Fame and the Direct Selling Education Foundation’s Circle of Honor. Special guests also included Joe Mariano, President of the U.S. Direct Selling Association; Gary Huggins, Executive Director of the Direct Selling Education Foundation; from Japan, Michiya Watanabe, President of Pacific Asia at Japan Life (No. 64), and guest Andy Nakashima; and from Luxembourg, Michael Cervell, Senior Vice President of Global Direct Sales at Oriflame (No. 11).
DSN Global 100
In all the Global 100 companies achieved $80.8 billion in net sales in 2014, up from $74.5 billion in 2013.
The Top 10 companies, which collectively represented 587 years of direct selling business across the globe, achieved $45.5 billion in revenue, with total number of salespeople at 22.5 million.
By region, there were 50 companies from North America, which were recognized with a new North America 50 list, three from South America, eight from Europe/Africa and 39 from Asia-Pacific. A total of 14 countries were represented on the list—Brazil, Canada, China, Cyprus, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Peru, South Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Companies appearing in the ranking for the first time included, from the U.S., NHT Global (No. 82), ARIIX (No. 95) and ASEA (No. 98); from Canada, Immunotec (No. 97); from Japan, Pola (No. 23) and Maruko (No. 70); and 10 companies from China, Infinitus (No. 7), JoyMain (No. 10), For You (No. 30), Rolmex (No. 33), Sunhope (No. 58), AnRan (No. 78), Kelti (No. 86), Golden Sun (No. 90), Ten Fu Tenmax (No. 91) and Kasly Ju (No. 93). Companies returning to the list after an absence or after a change within the company, include Malaysia’s DXN (No. 25); China’s Tiens (No. 15); PartyLite (No. 48), which had been listed under parent company Blyth on the 2014 list; and Nefful International from Singapore, which resulted from a company realignment from 2014’s Nefful Japan.
The Bravo Awards
The Bravo Leadership Award was presented to Jere Thompson Jr., Chairman and CEO of Ambit Energy. Each year, DSN honors an individual who personifies exceptional leadership—providing inspirational vision for his or her company, guiding the team toward greater good and earning respect and admiration of others.
“Thank you very much for honoring Ambit Energy with this Bravo Leadership Award,” Thompson said. “I’m honored to accept this on behalf of Ambit Energy and my partners in this great adventure—Chris Chambless [Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer] and John Burke [Chief Information Officer]. Ambit has been our collective effort for the last nine years, and we’ve been together from the very beginning so when you’re honoring me you’re really honoring all of us.”
Thompson, also keynote speaker for the evening, received the Bravo Leadership Award for leading his employees, consultants and stakeholders to more than $1 billion in revenue in only seven years (see story, page 88).
Cosmetics brand Mary Kay Inc. was honored with the Bravo Growth Award for its extraordinary $400 million growth in 2014, the largest increase of any company on the list.
Dallas-based Mary Kay led by CEO David Holl, continues to demonstrate its ability to keep a more than 60-year-old brand fresh and relevant to today’s consumers with an integrated and innovative approach to marketing that includes a partnership with the hit TV show Lifetime’s Project Runway and an innovative appearance on Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show.
“Thank you so much for such a wonderful award,” said Marie Swisher, Mary Kay Vice President of Global Brand Development, who accepted the award. “On behalf of all of the Mary Kay employees and our amazing, beautiful fantastic independent beauty consultants around the world I accept this award and we are so honored.”
The Keynote Address
For Ambit’s Thompson, the past has a lot to say about the future of his company and the direction he and his team plan to take it. “Someday my children may ask, ‘Tell us the story about Ambit’s growth. How did you make it happen?’” What Thompson said he will probably say to them is this: “Our success involved a warehouse. It included math, physics, engineering, chemistry, psychology and ethics…”
Math—“For traditional marketers in the utility industry it costs them approximately $200 to acquire a customer. But for Ambit, using direct sales, our cost is less than $5. And it takes traditional marketers eight months to recover the cost of their investment while it takes Ambit about one week.”
Physics—“According to Newton’s First Law of Physics, an object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion at the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by another force. Ambit’s “object in motion” was acquiring customers and consultants, which it has done, having reached 383,000 consultants to date. But the goal is also keeping them, he said. “We know any time any one of our consultants approaches someone about becoming an Ambit customer or consultant they’re putting their reputations on the line, and they’re trusting that Ambit will deliver as promised. We want to be worthy of that trust.”
Engineering—“Our goal through all of this is to deliver as promised. And that means we have to set up our back office so it works flawlessly. … We knew IT had to be a core competency and what we were looking for didn’t exist so we built our systems from scratch. Our systems create a lot of operating efficiency and very low-cost operating leverage. At 135 people, no one in the industry has an IT department like we do.”
Chemistry—“Teamwork is a part of our corporate DNA. …The three of us—John, Chris, and myself—came from Utica, N.Y., Canton, Texas, and Dallas, Texas. None of us had ever been in the electricity business before. None of us could do each other’s job, including CFO Laurie Rodriguez’s job. But we all came together and work very well together. We respect one another. And we like each other.”
Psychology—“We set Ambit’s open culture in motion at the very beginning by ripping out all of the walls in our 100-year-old warehouse space. … Our culture and space became incredible tools for our recruiting efforts, but what we found was the most important factor of all had to do with our values and our ethics.”
Ethics—“Michael Lunceford with Mary Kay said, ‘Never sacrifice integrity for growth.’ And that became our compass. We’ve always tried to live up to that high bar. It has defined our culture and our company and the type of people we have attracted to Ambit. It’s why we have such great people and such great consultants—and why we have such great opportunity still in front of us today.
“That’s the Ambit story. What a wonderful adventure it has been.”
An Industry Bettering Lives
Scott Schwertz, President of Nu Skin’s Americas Region, who accepted the company’s award for its No. 9 ranking on the Global 100 with sales of $2.57 billion in 2014, reminded everyone in the audience of the importance of each company’s saleforce—the lifeblood of the industry.
“What’s great about direct selling is not what is happening here tonight, it is about people and what’s happening in the homes of our distributors all around the world right now,” Schwertz said. “Everything that is happening tonight is for those distributors.”
No. 3 on the Global 100, Herbalife has not only fought back during recent challenges on behalf of the entire direct selling community, it has continued to grow its business, increasing sales by $200 million last year alone to $5 billion while at the same time transforming its business.
Herbalife’s Chairman and CEO Michael Johnson, who was not able to attend the celebration, shared his commitment to the industry through a personal message.
“It is an incredible honor to receive this recognition from our peers and colleagues. This is an industry that is thriving because of the positive impact our members, distributors and consultants are having on their customers and communities every single day,” Johnson said. “We should all be extremely proud of what we do as individual companies and as an industry, and it is up to each of us to continue leading by example, by delivering the very best customer experience and maintaining the highest levels of integrity. I am sorry we couldn’t be there in person tonight, but I wish you all a wonderful evening and raise a glass to 2015 being the best year ever for the direct selling industry.”
It is the promise of this freedom and opportunity delivered through integrity that brings so many to the industry, whether as founders and executives of direct selling companies or as independent business owners.
“Back in 1959 Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel, our co-founders, dared to dream a dream,” said Amway’s Bass. “Their dream was to help people live better lives all around the world. And they did that by spreading free enterprise. The critics of that day were pretty loud. And they had some compelling arguments when saying that’s not a dream, that’s impossible. They said that because markets like China and Russia were closed markets to free enterprise.
“But today, and for the past several years, China has become our No. 1 market and Russia is our No. 5 market in the world. Facts can certainly speak volumes, especially to critics. That’s a pretty strong example that Amway and this entire industry can ignite the entrepreneurial spirit of those around the globe and help people live better lives.”
The DSN Global 100 Celebration was sponsored by SUCCESS Partners. The following companies also sponsored tables at the event:
Platinum Table Sponsors – ACN, Amway and Mannatech; Gold Table Sponsors – Ambit Energy, Isagenix, It Works!, Nerium, Nu Skin, Rodan + Fields and Stream Energy; Silver Table Sponsors – Immunotec, Mary Kay, PartyLite, Plexus Worldwide, Scentsy, WorldVentures and Zurvita.