To gain perspective and understanding about what’s around the corner for 2021, it seemed prudent to profile some 2020 direct selling outliers. Here, eight executives reflect on a year that sometimes delivered unexpected and rapid increases in sales and growth for their companies, despite less-than-optimal pandemic conditions that caused pain and recession-like contractions for so many other businesses.
Beyond having in common the ability to adapt and be nimble, these companies are all driven by products in demand by consumers and readily accessible via robust e-commerce platforms. And these companies, much like direct selling legacy company Tupperware Brands—who experienced a resurgence thanks to more people needing to store leftovers during the pandemic, marked quadrupled profits of $34.4 million in the most recent quarter and saw stock prices soar from $1 in March to $28.80 per share in late October—want to ride this wave of sales through 2021.
Here, they lay out how they intend to do that using the insight of hindsight. They detail what worked this year, what challenged them, and how they coped with the unpredictability 2020 consistently threw. They share what sustained them in strife and offer up advice to those feeling the strain today. And lastly, they look forward through a pragmatic and transformative lens on a 2021 that will ultimately be what direct selling companies make it.
FOUNDED / 2012
HEADQUARTERS / Frisco, Texas
TOP EXECUTIVES / Jason Camper and Paul Gravette,
Co-Owners and Co-CEOS; Drew Hoffman, President
PRODUCTS / Nutritional Health and Wellness
Pushing the boundaries of science, technology, and overall health and wellness is at the core of Le-Vel, a nutritional/health and wellness company that has utilized cloud-based technology from its inception. This strategy earned Le-Vel $1 billion in lifetime orders before reaching its fifth anniversary in 2017 and continues to reward the company, its promoters, and customers amid the uncertainties of 2020.
As the world faced down COVID-19, Le-Vel realized tremendous growth with increasing revenues every month as 2020 proceeded. March sales were greater than February, April greater than March, etc. Additionally, year-over-year growth is at 30 percent compared to 2019. President Drew Hoffman says all signs and trends speak to continuing growth into 2021.
What worked for your company? Were you somehow better prepared? Were there standout successes? Were you more adaptive and flexible?
Drew Hoffman: We have been a completely virtual, cloud-based company since Day One; as a result, there were no interruptions, such as trying to deal with moving an in-office workforce to a remote environment. We are also incredibly lean (less than 70 employees), which allows us to maneuver, adapt, and pivot exceedingly efficiently and quickly when challenges or changed circumstances present themselves.
Given the many challenges and adverse conditions the world faced in 2020, one thing that really stood out is the incredibly supportive, empowering, and positive culture that permeates throughout Le-Vel, both corporately and in the field. Long- standing leaders and new Promoters alike have locked arms and led from the front to continue to foster such an exceptional culture. And our employees have been amazing in not only handling the challenges thrown at them this year, but also remaining positive and steadfast in advancing Le-Vel’s mission to help people live happier, healthier fuller lives.
What obstacles did you face in 2020?
Drew Hoffman: No one knew exactly how the COVID- 19 situation would play out, and even now, no one has a crystal ball that can show precisely what will occur for the industry and the world economy in the future. Because of that uncertainty, we had to be hyper-focused on ensuring all fundamental operations stayed on point—the team did a great job in that regard.
The fact we have always been a virtual, cloud-based company certainly helped us adapt and remain flexible. Beyond that, we focused (as we always do) on the details, ensuring that we stayed on top of issues as they arose and did our best to anticipate challenges and prepare to handle any obstacles that could arise.
Further, we were unable to have our annual conference (THRIVEpalooza) and two of our three yearly incentive trips (Getaways). As a result, we created and hosted more virtual events. Attendance for the events has been nothing short of incredible, and the field has fully engaged in corporate-led events while also taking the mantle and organizing their own events. We designed some very creative events, which kept things fresh, fun, and impactful.
How do your plans for 2021 reflect what you’ve learned?
Drew Hoffman: Going forward—we will incorporate more virtual events into our yearly calendar to go along with our powerful in-person events.
What is your plan to sustain the new business in 2021?
Drew Hoffman: We have been consistent in how we operate and the value we add since Day One and have no plans to make wholesale changes to what has worked so successfully. Accordingly, we will continue to develop and furnish world-class products, foster a community and culture that provides support and empowerment, and give individuals far-reaching opportunities to improve their lives.
What sustains you and your company during times of strife? What advice would you offer to others?
Drew Hoffman: We believe strongly at Le-Vel that we are helping people around the world live happier, healthier and fuller lives; keeping sight of that fact—knowing that we can be a beacon of light during an otherwise dark time—helps everyone keep their heads up and focused on continuing to move onward and upward.
My advice is pretty simple—This, too, shall pass. At the end of the day, challenges will present themselves, and if you remain calm, consistent, and positive you can overcome them.
In addition, if you create a culture of togetherness and show your customers and distributors that you have their backs and are in this with them, that message will resonate, and an already strong culture can become even more robust.
Any insights for 2021?
Drew Hoffman: Great things.