Visionary leadership accelerates nutraceutical growth
March 13, 2013— Tecumseh, Ontario
In a small industrial town near Windsor, Ontario, visionary Grant Bourdeau has used his extensive automotive experience to launch a health products manufacturing firm. “While looking for manufacturing opportunities in natural health products (NHPs), I realized this industry could benefit operationally from the automotive industry’s rigors, disciplines and quality controls,” says Bourdeau, president and chief executive officer of Suntrition, which manufactures NHPs (nutraceuticals) and sports nutrition supplements.
After identifying a booming global market for nutraceuticals, Bourdeau in the past three years has taken Suntrition sales from $1.5 million to $6 million. He credits much of his success to the National Research Council (NRC) Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), which helped him transform his idea of connecting the unconnected into a reality of rapid growth and limitless potential.
According to Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) Vladimir Franjo, IRAP supported Bourdeau’s innovative thinking with strategic support, critical connections and financial assistance that were vital to Suntrition’s evolution. “We also helped Suntrition set priorities for development and growth—and the top three were marketing, process improvement and human resources.”
One of Bourdeau’s chief challenges was defining a sales and marketing strategy. Franjo connected him with an industry marketing consultant who helped develop initiatives to ensure Suntrition’s long-term sustainability. These included conducting market research, identifying markets and products that would lead to sustainable growth, and positioning the firm with customers as a supplier who brought exceptional value to the table. Suntrition then rebranded itself as “the leader in small-batch oral-dose manufacturing” for products such as vitamins, dietary supplements, cold remedies and sleep aids.
Bourdeau reports that “we have been able to attract not only established market leaders in the nutraceutical industry, but also many newcomers.” And everyone is noticing: In 2012, Suntrition was ranked by Profit magazine as #88 of the Top 200 fastest growing companies in Canada.
“In 2012, Suntrition was ranked by Profit magazine as #88 of the Top 200 fastest growing companies in Canada.”
To ensure that Suntrition’s brand promise was backed by products and services that meet the stringent safety and quality standards of nutraceutical production, the company adopted lean manufacturing systems. Value-stream mapping helped Suntrition analyze inefficiencies in operations, management and manufacturing, then implement productivity improvements, higher output and better quality control. “In addition, our new $3.5 million 36,000-square-foot (11,000-square-metre) state-of-the-art facility was designed and built to superior pharmaceutical standards,” says Bourdeau. “This positioned us to become NSF Good Manufacturing Practices Certified for Sport™—a world-class certification held by just four companies in Canada.” This designation allows Suntrition to be the supplier of record for some of the world’s most prominent NHP marketers.
Process mapping has also identified the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, in which Bourdeau has invested a half-million dollars.
Managing a high-growth company requires a strong, specialized workforce—and with IRAP’s help, Suntrition identified human resources needs and began filling positions with top talent. In the past three years, the company has increased its employee base by over 200 per cent. A strategic hire was a mechanical engineer charged with implementing lean manufacturing company-wide. Bourdeau also engaged a regulatory affairs specialist, general manager and head of operations while building a customer-centric business development team.
An introduction by Franjo to a renowned scientist, inventor and IRAP client has enabled Bourdeau to take Suntrition “where no one has gone before.” He hired Indrajit Sinha, PhD, as chief scientific officer, then partnered Suntrition with Sinha’s business, Biomedcore, which had developed a breakthrough technology to individualize cancer therapy. The technology can quickly match the right drug to the right patient and has the potential to redefine cancer treatment. By applying its experience in process innovation to leading-edge science, the company will be making an impact on individualized healthcare as well.
Underlying Bourdeau’s drive is his passion for “the societal benefits of health and wellness, and an uncompromising focus on these core values.” Combining this with his openness to ideas from inside and outside the industry, Bourdeau creates collaborative environments that are conducive to breakthroughs.
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