For Kyäni founders Kirk Hansen, Jim Hansen and Carl Taylor, the direct selling channel was new territory, much like the vast, untouched landscape that produces the wild Alaskan blueberry, an essential ingredient to Kyäni’s Triangle of Health flagship products.
Headquarters: Idaho Falls, Idaho
Top Executive: Founders Kirk Hansen, Jim Hansen and Carl Taylor; CEO Michael Breshears
Now, more than a decade after Kyäni’s founding in 2007, the small, deeply pigmented Alaskan wild blueberry is a metaphor for the wellness company itself. Evolved to protect itself from Alaska’s brutal climate and five times the antioxidant potency of its common cousins, the berry and the company are tenacious in spirit and action.
While partnering was familiar to the Hansen and Taylor families—previously they succeeded together in real estate and other business ventures—they had rooted themselves in family businesses long before creating Kyäni. The Hansens operate a large rail-to-truck fuel and petroleum enterprise and the Taylor family’s 30,000+ cultivated acres comprise one of the largest potato agri-businesses in the U.S.
“True business principles that are most successful really apply in all aspects of our lives: being kind, being honest, having integrity, treating others the way you want to be treated.”
—Kirk Hansen, Chairman and Founder, Kyäni
But they were ready for a new adventure, one that would begin in Alaska. Impressed and intrigued with the wellness potential of wild-sourced superfoods, Kyäni’s founders set about making the nutritional benefits of wild Alaskan blueberries and wild Alaskan sockeye salmon available to a broader audience.
They developed wellness products focused on the antioxidant power of wild blueberries as well as omega-3s in wild salmon and eventually marketing the Triangle of Health—Kyäni Sunrise, Kyäni Sunset, Kyäni Nitro.
Over time, each product has been reformulated to expand its impact. Sunrise has become a well-rounded, full-spectrum, nutritional product including more than 22 superfoods representing nearly every hue of the color wheel. Sunset evolved from primarily an omega-3 supplement to include other lipid soluble nutrients, specifically tocotrienols, a component of vitamin E. Kyäni Nitro represents the future and power of nitro nutrition. Both the FX and Xtreme versions of Nitro help increase nitric oxide production within the body, which in turn increases the assimilation and absorption of other nutrients.
The new Fleuresse skincare line was created on a foundation of key natural ingredients in Kyäni’s nutritional line. Nitrates, for example, are used to help open pores and increase absorption, and tocotrienols, blueberries and Swiss apple promote stem cell rejuvenation.
The Alaskan blueberry and sockeye salmon provided a solid base, so too did the long established business philosophy of the founders’ family businesses. “My parents trained us early,” Kyäni Chairman Kirk Hansen says. “True business principles that are most successful really apply in all aspects of our lives: being kind, being honest, having integrity, treating others the way you want to be treated.”
None of it came by accident. Kyäni took a long-term approach from the outset: Make the investment. Build the foundation.
“These are characteristics engrained in Kyäni because that is the way the owners do business,” CEO Michael Breshears says.
There’s fluidity here, a give-and-take between the field and corporate. “I’ve always referred to our leaders as my Partners because they are out doing a portion of the business that we don’t do; and we, at corporate, do very well, what the field doesn’t do. It’s a classic definition of partnership,” Hansen says.
He adds that the partnership moves forward like any successful marriage, family or corporate business, by fostering long-term, win/win relationships. It resides within and learns from a corporate culture driven by personal integrity and tenacious problem-solving.
Kyäni illustrates this partnership by consistently meeting and exceeding expectations in ingredient procurement, wild sourcing globally from North America, South America, Nepal and Asia. “When you source from the wild, it’s the best of all worlds in the sense that it’s non-GMO, as well as organic. It’s grown in virgin soil, so it’s not over-harvested,” says Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Mangeris.
The company manufactures in GMP certified facilities, ensuring products are consistently manufactured and controlled to quality standards within and outside the U.S.
“Whether it’s at procuring ingredients, through the manufacturing process or in controlled temperature shipping, everything we do has to be to the highest of standards, not only for our own requirements, but also because our product is being tested very thoroughly in every market,” Hansen says.
Today, Kyäni has a large, global footprint spanning sales, manufacturing and procurement. The company does business in 63 countries, which comprise 92 percent of world gross domestic product, he says.
The company’s tenacious spirit sometimes scrambles behind the scenes, but it also rises to the forefront when it needs to. In 2010, Kyäni took a deep look at its compensation plan and determined it didn’t provide a sustainable future. So they changed it.
Even so, making changes to a comp plan can cause concern for everyone involved. Kyäni knew that. “This was a major issue for us to make that decision,” Breshears says. “We decided to do what was necessary and right for the future and not avoid the hard decisions.”
So the company modeled, tested, analyzed and eventually developed a unique, volume-based calculation compensation system called Paygate. In the end, the changes were well received by Business Partners, the company’s distributors, because of interaction between corporate leaders and others in the organization.
“They understood what was going on and why we were making the changes. They understood the impact those changes were going to have and what it was going to do for the field and the future,” Breshears says.
Kyäni’s challenges tied to compensation and creating a seamless, global plan have resulted in more flexibility in the business opportunity for Business Partners in every country, not just financially or economically strong markets.
It’s a challenge Kyäni embraced readily and applied creativity and ingenuity in resolving. “We have built a unique compensation plan that allows complete flexibility to our Business Partners, so they can thrive in every aspect of the business, whether it is retail, network marketing, party plan or online marketing,” Hansen says.
“We decided to do what was necessary and right for the future and not avoid the hard decisions.”
—Michael Breshears, CEO, Kyäni
“It’s absolutely the creative entrepreneurs’ sandbox. They can come to Kyäni and find their strengths to go into the market, and we can help them be successful,” he says. “That is what I believe makes us so incredibly successful in such diverse markets throughout Europe, Latin America, Asia and North America.”
Corporate drives international markets from a key element perspective, but local market management makes it work. Going after and retaining international assets with high expertise levels puts Kyäni in front of cultural or economic compensation plan issues, as well as day-to-day business operations.
Helping Business Partners Succeed
Setting up Business Partners for success is a goal all direct selling companies strive for. There’s much excitement from the field as well when they earn success, rank up and become team leaders. But Hansen says quick success has a downside. Many distributors may not have the experience or insights they need to train their teams. Shoring up this vulnerability and eliminating the floundering feeling of those new leaders is essential to their future success, says Chief Creative Officer Chad Thomas. “People new to the business, especially someone who has never been in the industry before, too many are asking, ‘What do I do now?’ ” he says.
Kyäni set out to prevent that all too often asked question with technology. Executives defined what their Business Partners needed and debated functionality; corporate and global team leaders agreed a custom developed mobile and web-based app, named Kyäni Pro, was the answer.
Kyäni Pro launched in grand style in April with the Billion and Beyond Broadcast live to Business Partners gathered in hotels and homes in more than 100 cities from Honolulu to Chicago and Calgary to Tahiti. Tens of thousands dialed in simultaneously, some at less than convenient hours of the day.
Far more than streaming video, it was a secure, password protected, worldwide event accessible only in Kyäni designated venues with adequate bandwidth and seating. The technology required was incredibly complex, seamlessly meshing English presenters and presentation graphics with multiple language audio and video presentation translations.
“The presenter was most likely presenting in English with an English presentation behind them. But as they clicked through their slides, each of these 100-plus cities saw slides in their native languages with simultaneous translation,” Mangeris says.
The technological feat is in keeping with the flexibility and personalization of Kyäni Pro’s training and onboarding. “One of the most powerful aspects is that local leaders can be inserted throughout this training process and really customize it for that particular person, where they live, what team they are on. Business Partners can see the face of one of their team leaders and start to feel like they are a part of that team,” Thomas says.
Kyäni Pro utilizes a micro learning, training and onboarding approach. Bite-sized, 3-4 minute videos train on a few simple principles, followed by a short accountability quiz and an immediate action, like building a contact list or reaching out to a prospect. Learners earn badges and certifications as rewards.
“When you join Kyäni, you become my Business Partner. When you do that, success is our goal and failure is not an option. Now with Kyäni Pro, we are giving them the tools they need and the feeling that they have one of the founders, a team leader or executive taking them by the hand and walking them down one clear path, providing one clear message,” Hansen says.
Expectations are high for Kyäni Pro as a builder of corporate and team culture, as a recruiting tool for both new customers and Business Partners, and as an impetus for Kyäni’s 20/20 Vision.
Introduced at Kyäni’s Leadership Summit in January, 20/20 Vision encapsulates the company’s two-year growth plan. It sets forth a goal to reach 4,000 Business Partners ranked Diamond or above by 2020. Diamond requires 100,000 points in volume.
The 20/20 Vision total is the sum of regional goals (1,000 for each: North America, South America, Europe and Asia) determined by a group of Business Partner leaders, sales executives and general managers from around the world.
This spring, Kyäni embarked on a road tour of North American cities for Vision meetings detailing the growth initiative and how they expect to get there. First stops were Miami, Florida, and Bakersfield, California, with training by vice presidents Jodi Soper and Gina Stevenson, as well as local leaders. More cities will follow.
Kyäni does not share financial or sales specifics, nor does it offer Business Partner totals. But Hansen reports record pace growth before Kyäni Pro launched. “We expect Kyäni Pro to be a catalyst that throws us into warp speed toward our goal of 4,000 Diamonds,” he says.
When that happens, Hansen likens Kyäni to a lower-seeded team in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. “We are going to be there in the championship. We are going to be a major player because of our financial backing. We have the team assembled. We have the culture. We have the mission. We are a powerful company with a powerful group of executives ready to take us to the very top of the industry.” And of course, the tenacity to get there.
Kyäni Caring Hands Foundation improves children’s access to nutrition, sanitation and education at home and abroad. Since 2011, executives, employees, Kyäni Business Partners and customers have rendered vital disaster aid, coordinated services within local communities and journeyed on annual mission trips around the globe.
Kyäni Potato Pak, a life-sustaining nutrition pack, is sold by Kyäni and donated through Caring Hands to 27 countries in need, feeding almost 2 million over the past two years. The company’s goal for the next 12 months is 2 million more.
Caring Hands volunteer projects are diverse and plentiful. Global Kyäni leaders ventured to Tanzania and Mexico in 2018 to build schools and sanitation systems and promote physical and academic success through nutrition; 100 volunteers gathered to give at Kyäni’s Asia Convention in the Philippines; and thousands give back locally on Caring Hands Day (June 16, 2018).
“When you have your own Business Partners and leaders go out and participate in hands-on projects, it helps change them as well as the people they are benefiting,” Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Mangeris says.
With great success comes responsibility to give back. It’s something that rings true for Kyäni.
“There are many of our leaders and customers who participate in Kyäni because of this humanitarian effort. It’s a huge part of our culture,” Founder and Chairman Kirk Hansen says.