Nate Jones, CEO of Xlear, is no stranger to managing growth. In just the last year his Xylitol-based nasal spray and chewing gum products under the Xlear and Spry lines have gone from being available in 1,800 stores to more than 36,000 stores nationwide.
Jones sat down with Chief Executive to talk about how he keeps on top of growth, how Xlear’s marketing has evolved with its larger customer base and what his best employees have in common. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: What were some of the challenges in terms of distribution and getting Xlear’s products into the hands of more consumers?
A: When we started the company, we didn’t intend it to be in the natural products industry. We started by going to medical conventions. It’s just that retailers in the natural product space, they’re the ones that picked up on it and got it on their shelves. And so we ended up going to the natural products industry. And within four years, we were the number one selling nasal spray in the natural products industry. And after 10 years, 70% of all of the nasal spray sold in the health food business and the natural products sellers were ours. So we decided to move into the mass market.
“the core of our marketing is still going to doctors and educating them as to what it is and why it works.”
And so, back in 2011, we started building. We went and built a new building, bought all the high-speed equipment so we could keep up with the production. And three years ago, we put it on the shelves of CVS, which was our first customer in the mass market. And now we’re in CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart. Really, the only big one that we’re not in is Target and Walgreens. And I’m pretty sure that Walgreens will have it on their shelves in their reset in September.
Q: Was there any change in your marketing messaging when you brought Xlear to a larger audience and these bigger retailers?
A: Well, for the first 10 years, the vast majority of our marketing was going toward physicians—primary care physicians, pediatricians. And when we pushed into the mass market three years ago, we started doing more advertising in print magazines like Women’s Health, Women’s World, Men’s Health, we’ve done some advertising there. We’ve done a lot of stuff online in the digital space, targeting people that say “I’m sick,” or “I’ve got the flu,” or “I’ve got allergies,” trying to get out there to them. But the core of our marketing is still going to doctors and educating them as to what it is and why it works.
Q: What are some of the things that your best employees have in common?
A: I would have to say a positive attitude. You know when you meet someone, they’re happy, they’re positive? Those are the people that usually have worked out the best. And sometimes we’ve hired people that didn’t. I mean, you can take someone with a positive attitude and teach them what it is you want done. But if you hire someone with a grumpy attitude, then they don’t care. They don’t become engaged. What I want is people that want to leave the world a better place than they found it. There are a lot of people out there that just want go out and make a buck, and they don’t care whether they do it selling tobacco or selling something that makes your life better.