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The Sweet Smell of Success

Few companies can trace their lineage to Oprah Winfrey, but Scentsy of Meridian, Idaho can. Flashback to 2003. Kara Egan, and her sister-in-law, Colette Gunnell were watching Oprah’s “Millionaire Mom’s” show, and were inspired to create something amazing that people could not live without. They began working on a safe and simple way to scent the space around them, a wickless alternative to the typical flame operated candles. The result was Scentsy.

Mid-Market Company of the Week: Scentsy

Few companies can trace their lineage to Oprah Winfrey, but Scentsy of Meridian, Idaho can. Flashback to 2003. Kara Egan, and her sister-in-law, Colette Gunnell were watching Oprah’s “Millionaire Mom’s” show, and were inspired to create something amazing that people could not live without. They began working on a safe and simple way to scent the space around them, a wickless alternative to the typical flame operated candles. The result was Scentsy.

In March of 2004, Kara and Colette were selling Scentsy products at a home show in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was there that they met Orville Thompson. Thompson, who was selling video game controllers, set up his booth across the aisle from two stay-at-home moms who were selling decorative warmers designed to melt scented wax. Thompson struck up a conversation with them women and ended up trading a video game controller for a warmer, several wickless candle bars, and a set of scent testers. Thompson took the products home to his wife, Heidi, who immediately saw the product’s potential. The Thompsons purchased Scentsy shortly thereafter.

For several months, the Thompsons and their five kids ran Scentsy’s manufacturing and shipping operations from an old ocean shipping container that had been sitting on the family sheep farm in Meridian, Idaho. During this period, the Thompson’s determined that Scentsy’s growth would come from direct selling. Scentsy’s growth has been dramatic. More than 200,000 consultants distribute Scentsy products and the company employs more than 1,000 associates.

“When we launched our direct selling opportunity in an ocean shipping container, we had very little infrastructure,” says Thompson, “We had no money, no credit and no chance of an investor. We had no catalog, no software and no experience. We did have a great product and a few passionate consultants.”

Even with Scentsy’s revenues on the verge of breaking the $1-billion dollar barrier, Heidi Thompson says the company remains focused on consultants and employees. “Our organization is set up similar to a well-run family,” says Thompson. “There is no way we’d be where we are today without each and every person who has helped us along the way.”

Source: Forbes / High-Growth Scentsy Shares Its Secrets of Passion and Work-Life Integration / April 17, 2013 – http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesinsights/2013/04/17/high-growth-scentsy-shares-its-secrets-of-passion-and-work-life-integration/

Source: Management Today / Scentsy – http://managementtoday-magazine.com/index.php/sections/manufacturing-and-engineering/377-scentsy

Source: Idaho Statesman / In the Works: Scentsy to move into new HQ in Meridian / August 20, 2013 -

http://www.idahostatesman.com/2013/08/20/2714770/the-tower-that-wickless-candles.html#storylink=cpy


Orville Thompson

CEO – Scentsy

Size: 1,000+ Employees

Location: Meridian, ID

Goal: Preserve a “family like” corporate culture while achieving superior rates of growth.

Fact: After humble beginnings in a 40-foot shipping container, Scentsy products are now sold throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Canada, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Unique: Starting at age 10, Thompson began raising sheep. Soon, Thompson was selling his sheep at auctions and by the time he graduated from high school, Orville had $14,000 in the bank.

About Steve Rosenbaum