Former Comvita CEO joins BLIS Technologies Board
Former Comvita CEO Reinforces Offshore Marketing Focus On BLIS Technologies Board
When Graeme Boyd was approached to join the board of probiotic health product manufacturer BLIS Technologies he had no trouble understanding exactly what they were doing and what the next steps should be.
“It was all very familiar to me,” he said. “BLIS is a different company. The strategies are different, but the lessons are the same.”
From 1998 to 2005 Boyd had been chief executive of Comvita where he built that company from a smaller producer of natural health products to an NZX-listed international marketer working across many countries and a rising star of New Zealand business.
Boyd said to do that, like Comvita in its early days, BLIS is having to painstakingly work through complex processes to satisfy regulatory authorities that its products are safe. It is also building market presence in each country piece-by-piece, sometimes taking one step back to go two steps forward.
Clinical trials have been carried out around the world which all support the science behind the products and support marketing messages.
BLIS has been a science-based company that is transforming into a sales and marketing and manufacturing company. It has been working for many years on getting the approvals in the key markets it operates in.
“It is always slow and arduous work at the beginning. People tend to forget how much effort and focus it takes over many years to get a successful company established in offshore markets.
“Every country is different in the way it views health products, and has its own set of regulations. It can take years to go through the hoops and meet the criteria. But once those criteria are met the doors open.”
BLIS Technologies has recently been informed that their probiotic bacteria Streptococcus salivarius K12 and M18 do not need an importation permit to Canada thereby simplifying access and sales. But that’s only one. BLIS is also working with regulatory authorities in the USA and Australia.
BLIS Technologies has also moved from a straight ingredients provider to setting up a plant able to manufacture finished products, such as the lozenges that carry its K12 probiotic for throat and upper respiratory health. The advantage of the new plant is that other nutritionals manufacturers are using the plant for their own products as well and this is generating an additional revenue stream for the company.
Boyd said with its own manufacturing plant giving it greater control over supply, quality, and cost, and regulatory approvals in place, the timing is right for BLIS to expand its marketing effort and grow sales.
“In the early years at Comvita we had difficulty seeing exactly what the consumers were saying about our products because we had distributors between us and them. It is always a conundrum for companies whether to use a distributor or have their own people in the market place.”
He said distributors are relied upon to have good contacts and relationships in offshore markets but it is they that have the relationship with the retailers and wholesalers and therefore understand the consumers. Distributorships can work well but there must be a good flow of consumer information back to the manufacturer.
“The alternative is having people working directly for you in the market to market your products. That is ideal but expensive at the beginning.
Boyd says his role as a board member is to ask the right questions aimed at keeping the company focused on the ultimate goal, and give them the benefit of his experience.
“I’ve seen just how successful this kind of business can be and that’s the advantage I have. I have been down a similar road.”