[Editor's Note: As part of our ongoing "Inside Look" series of interviews with the movers and shakers in the supplement industry, we recently sat down and talked with Eric Johnson, Vice President of Inner Armour. Since its founding in 2009, Inner Armour has been a research-and-development innovator and staunch corporate advocate of product integrity and quality. We talked with Eric about a wide range of topics currently impacting the industry, about where he sees the science of supplementation going in the coming years, and about what keeps Inner Armour growing and prospering. The claims and opinions expressed in this article are Eric's own.]

ProSource: Can you state the basic philosophy of your company and how it translates into the manufacturing and marketing of your products?

Eric Johnson: Inner Armour is committed to providing the most effective, cutting-edge, clinically tested and banned-substance-free sports nutrition products the world has to offer. Every Inner Armour product is formulated specifically for the needs of amateur and pro athletes committed to superior results that enhance speed, increase strength, build muscle and ultimately drive power. Each is perfectly formulated by the Inner Armour team of leading industry professionals, scientists, product developers, trainers and registered dieticians to deliver the highest quality and meet the highest standards.

ProSource: Tell us a little about how your company got started.

Eric Johnson: Inner Armour was founded in 2009 with a focus on being the first brand to bring Third Party Tested Banned-Substance-Free Certified products to the sports nutrition market. We felt there was a gap in the market for sports nutrition products specifically focused for athletes. Even today, our industry is impacted by negative press generated by non-reputable companies which release products containing products banned in sports. It's frustrating.

Since our founding, we have created a global footprint across all major markets for sports nutrition. With our key focus on international development, we have created key products that are globally recognized. Our primary focus has been perfecting our craft with protein powders and weight gainers. We have a full assortment of proteins including performance protein blends, low-carb whey protein, micellar casein and more.

We have recently teamed up with Informed Choice to further our dedication to the elite athlete.Informed Choice is a quality assurance program for sports nutrition products, suppliers to the sports nutrition industry, and supplement manufacturing facilities. The program certifies that all nutritional supplements and/or ingredients that bear the Informed Choice logo have been tested for banned substances by the world class sports anti-doping lab, HFL Sport Science. Athletes choosing to use supplements can use the search function above to find products that have been through this rigorous certification process.

We understand that for athletes, performance is everything! We give our athletes and customers the peace of mind that comes from knowing not only that our products are safe and effective, they are specifically formulated to improve athletic performance while being tested to ensure they contain no banned substances.

ProSource: What key feature of your product line distinguishes it from those of your competitors?

Eric Johnson: Inner Armour supplements are perfectly formulated with the highest quality standards using clinically tested ingredients and validated doses to produce the most reliable and credible, banned-substance-free supplements for both amateur and professional athletes in need of reliable results in speed, strength and power!

ProSource: Briefly describe a recent promotion or product launch your company undertook and why that promotion was successful.

Eric Johnson: We include a Free T-Shirt in our Training Peak multivitamin formula and it has caused the product to absolutely take off! We felt that a multivitamin is a key product in maintaining your high-performance training regimen. We also wanted to provide a gift for our loyal customers by providing them a FREE T-Shirt they can train in. It's been a win-win for our customers and the brand.

ProSource: How important are the trade shows and expos to the growth of your company?

Eric Johnson: Trade shows and expos are crucial in our industry. This is the perfect venue to hear from the most important people, our customers! Being in the face of our loyal customers provides us the feedback we need to continue to build innovative and effective products for our customers.

ProSource: What does your company do to ensure ethical standards?

Eric Johnson: Unlike other supplement companies that cut corners, use unsafe ingredients, or spike their supplements with banned ingredients, Inner Armour formulates each product with nothing but pure, high quality and clinically researched amounts of superior ingredients.

ProSource: Let's say a customer is just starting a fitness regimen, can only afford one product, and he/she comes to you. Which one supplement do you recommend? Why?

Eric Johnson: We feel each product offering is catered to the individual's goal. We feel strongly that everyone should start with the foundational supplements of a Multivitamin and Whey Protein. If you has to choose one product, Nitro Peak would definitely be a top choice. With 25 grams of protein, 9 grams of Glutamine and Brached-Chain Amino Acids, Fast Acting Whey Protein Hydrolysates and mouth watering flavors, it's definitely an elite quality supplement that will help athletes achieve their goals.

Nitro Peak is ideally taken an hour before training, immediately after training or anytime throughout the day to meet your personal protein requirements.

ProSource: What do you believe are the best and worst things about the supplement industry?

Eric Johnson: The best and most rewarding aspect of the supplement industry is helping people achieve their health and fitness goals. With the ever-increasing focus on people improving their fitness, the sports nutrition industry continues to grow and help people with their goals and ambitions.

One of the negative elements in the industry is the lack of focus on safety and quality. We understand the large cost associated with banned substance testing but to us it is worth it to give our loyal customers piece of mind. Others don't invest sufficiently to ensure that the products fitness enthusiasts are buying are safe and free of banned or harmful substances.

ProSource: What do you think is the key to continued success in this industry?

Eric Johnson: We feel that listening to customers is the key to continued success. The fact is that customers are our business, without them we wouldn't exist. Keeping up with what they need to achieve, their goals, and pushing the limits of physical performance is our top priority! It is that constant contact and understanding of our customers that allows us to continue to grow.

ProSource: Pick one supplement product category that you believe is poised for great change and advancement in the coming two or three years. What is it and how will customers see that impact?

Eric Johnson: We feel that the weight gainer category is poised for innovation and improvement. The old school philosophy of calories, calories, calories is a thing of the past. Having clean, effective and performance focused weight gainers is a key to having fitness enthusiasts gaining lean muscle and achieving their goals. Our Mass Peak lean mass gainer is the ideal ration of muscle boosting protein, recovery aiding carbohydrates and healthy promoting fats. We feel that we have created formulas in that category that will inspire a host of innovation in that category to continue to help people looking to gain muscle.

Do you have a question for Inner Armour VP Eric Johnson? Enter it in the comments field below and we'll forward it on to him for an answer.

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