[Editor's Note: As part of our ongoing "Inside Look" series of interviews, we've been sitting down and discussing the current and future challenges facing the supplement industry with some of the industry's most influential leaders. This week, we're privileged to speak to James Grage, Co-Founder and Vice President of BPI Sports. BPI Sports is a relatively recent addition to the sports supplement marketplace, and yet they have grown swiftly into one of the more prominent players in the field. Of course, the claims and opinions expressed in this article are James's own.]
ProSource: Can you state the basic philosophy of your company and how it translates into the manufacturing and marketing of your products?
James Grage, Co-Founder and VP, BPI Sports: We never stop. We eat, drink, sleep, work, play, and breathe sports nutrition. We practice what we preach. We won't put anything in the market that we wouldn't use ourselves. This is the BPI life. I fully believe that this is why we have been so successful.
ProSource: Tell us a little about how your company got started.
James Grage: It started with two buddies, a thousand square feet, and a dream. Quite rapidly, BPI Sports launched itself into becoming one of the fastest-growing and most prominent sports nutrition companies on the planet. Our current headquarters in South Florida occupies over 53,000 square feet. Adjacent to our office space is a complete commercial-size BPI gym that we built for our athletes and team members.
Although we started from a humble beginning, we are no longer strangers to exponential growth. Our never-ending expansion has propelled BPI to the point where we now have four nationwide distribution hubs. And we are not done yet.
ProSource: What key feature of your product line distinguishes it from those of your competitors?
James Grage: Here's the thing about BPI. If you walk into our office, you'll notice that every single person here has bottles on top of bottles of our own products. Our products are created, developed, and marketed by people who use them. We walk the walk.
ProSource: Certainly your own story in that regard has been remarkable. And yet, you've only recently begun to share it publicly. What changed?
James Grage: It's not an easy thing to do, to put yourself out there like that. Once I realized that my story might really help inspire people, it was an easy decision to make. Here at BPI, we are big advocates of bettering yourself, whether it is through fitness, or an entirely different avenue. Understanding that my story could empower others to better their own lives, that's really all it took.
ProSource: Briefly describe a recent promotion or product launch your company undertook and why that promotion was successful.
James Grage: We've had tremendous success with our new pre-workout, 1.M.R VORTEX. The phrase "enthusiasm is contagious," proved itself to be true in this case. It started here at headquarters. Prior to launch, the staff at BPI got to try out VORTEX™ for themselves, and everyone just got pumped. We knew we had a product that the market was going to love. The genuine excitement that we had internally transcended into every element of the product launch, especially through social media. People went nuts! Every metric on social media went through the roof, and it was entirely fueled by enthusiasm and a product that delivered results. It has been a blast.
ProSource: How important are the trade shows and expos to the growth of your company?
James Grage: No matter what kind of business you're in, building relationships is key. The shows are a great way for us to maintain those relationships, and cultivate new ones.
It's also a good way for us to educate people, and gauge reactions to our products. People want to see, touch, taste, and even smell our products. We take the feedback we get from shows, and bring it back to the office. We are always looking to better our products and we are never going to stop improving, or learning. We are relentless.
James Grage: We are a premier, high-end brand. The ingredients we put in our products reflect that. Our products are developed utilizing the most trusted, cutting edge science, and are manufactured under GMP (good manufacturing practices). This combination assures high ethics, which translate into high-quality products that supplement buyers can consistently rely on and trust.
Our entire team uses our products to reach their own individual fitness goals, including myself. I'm particular about what I put in my body. I will only take the best of the best.
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?
James Grage: Just as you would balance your fitness regimen, you really need to balance your supplements, too. So it's difficult to pick just one without the intent of pairing it with another for optimal results. But if I'm cornered, and have to pick just one, it would be the WHEY-HD. It's a high-quality protein that legitimately is delicious. My favorite flavor is chocolate cookie.
ProSource: What do you believe are the best and worst things about the supplement industry?
James Grage: What's great is that this is an industry that is here to stay. Even when the economy dipped, the sports nutrition industry was booming. We started when the economy was almost at its worst and we took off from day one. We haven't looked back, and our growth has been unparalleled.
The worst part is when companies lose focus on why they are in business: to help people achieve their physical best. Our focus is firmly set on exceeding expectations. Our customers trust our products, and we will continue to earn their trust.
ProSource: What do you think is the key to continued success in this industry?
James Grage: In a word -- results. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what fresh marketing concept you come up with, or how high-tech your website looks. It always falls back to the products, and how well they work. We stand behind every product we have launched because we can say with confidence that they work.
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?
James Grage: Very good question. There are so many categories that continue to develop and evolve as do the companies that make them. I would have to say that we believe that the FAT BURNING category is poised for some new developments. New ingredients, delivery systems, and an overall fresh approach. Let's face it, everyone that looks in the mirror probably sees more of what they would like less, rather than more of what they want more. We'll just have to see what happens through the course of 2014.
ProSource: What is next for BPI?
James Grage: Right now, we are still in the middle of our launch for VORTEX and WHEY-HD, so we are pretty focused on that. Let's just say that our customers asked, and we listened.
ProSource: If you have any specific questions for James, post them in the comments field below, and we'll be sure to forward them on to him. Thanks for stopping by, James.