Employee Spotlight: Ryan Gillen, New Business Development Manager
At NutraScience Labs, we are proud to have an experienced team that is passionate about the dietary supplement industry and helping brand owners manufacture high-quality nutraceutical products.
Keeping this in mind, it made all the sense in the world this month to "lift the curtain" and put the spotlight on the man responsible for working with many of our first-time supplement business owners - our New Business Development Manager, Ryan Gillen.
An athlete his entire life, Ryan was always been interested in the latest dietary supplement products and companies. Shortly after his successful Division III lacrosse career ended, he decided to pursue his passion and land a job in the nutraceuticals industry. For the last 5 years, Ryan has played an instrumental role in helping many dietary supplement brand owners formulate and manufacture their products with us.
What is it about working with new and existing dietary supplement brand owners that excites you?
My role allows me to act as a problem solver. Over the years, the most common challenges I've heard from existing brand owners is that their current supplier is unresponsive to their needs, isn't able to offer satisfactory lead times or can't deliver competitive pricing (just to name a few). That's where I can step in and provide a solution specifically designed to help them elevate their brand to the next level.
I also enjoy speaking to fellow health and wellness enthusiasts who have a wealth of knowledge but have never thought about creating a dietary supplement product or business. For example, I recently spoke to an Instagram personality with over 500,000 followers that had a terrific weight management plan but never considered creating her a line of products until she spoke to me. We're in the process of creating her first product, a great-tasting powder, that I'm sure she'll have no problems selling.
What's the biggest shift or change you've noticed in the dietary supplement industry over the last 5 years?
I've noticed a complete shift in the protein products that consumers purchase. For years, whey isolate and concentrate were always the "go-to" supplements that people purchased. Nowadays, health and wellness enthusiasts, athletes, and "weekend warriors" are adopting healthier lifestyles and want dairy-free alternatives that taste good. In response to this new trend, many of the brand owners I speak to are interested in manufacturing veggie or vegan product option for their customers that include "outside the box" flavoring options. While chocolate and vanilla flavored greens products are still very popular among consumers, our in-house food scientist has formulated some delicious flavors for our clients over the years that have made their products stand out.
You've talked a bit about new supplement brand owners. What's your biggest piece of advice for someone thinking about entering the supplement industry?
As the Vice President of Marketing, you'll appreciate this, Andrew. My biggest piece of advice for an aspiring dietary supplement brand owner is to create a strong marketing strategy that places an emphasis on social media. Platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube (just to name a few) are tailor-made to sell dietary supplement products on - just make sure to pick one and master it before moving onto the next one. At the same time, you also need to keep an eye on the latest platforms being unveiled and determine whether your product is suitable for it.
RELATED READING: The Simple 10-Step Guide for Starting a Supplement Company
Speaking of social media, you're going to be appearing a lot more on our social media channels in 2020. What can our followers expect to learn from you?
Without letting the cat out of the bag too much, our Senior Director of Formulation, Gene Bruno, and I are working on some great content that I believe both current and aspiring dietary supplement brand owners will find to be interesting and enjoyable. For the time being, my advice would be to follow NutraScience Labs' various social media channels, get the popcorn ready, and stay tuned. I'm hopeful that our first post will be ready to be published by the middle of January.
What's your fondest memory being part of the NutraScience Labs team?
Going to my first trade show with our Vice President of Sales and two of our senior sales representatives was a memorable experience.
In your opinion, what's the one thing that distinguishes NutraScience Labs from other contract manufacturers?
I'm going to cheat and say that two things distinguish us from the competition - the level of customer service we provide and the emphasis we place on product quality.
Delivering impeccable customer service is a pillar of our organization. When you call us, you get a live person that's ready to assist you - no automated phone messages or voicemail systems. From there, your account is assigned to a dedicated sales representative and order manager that will work with you from start to finish and answer any questions you have along the way.
When it comes to product quality, we always keep in mind that the product we're creating for our customers will ultimately be ingested by someone's mom, dad, sister, brother, grandparent, etc. We take no shortcuts or skip steps when it comes to ingredient sourcing and product manufacturing, we make sure the product we ultimately deliver exceeds your expectations.
At the beginning of the interview, I mentioned you were a pretty good lacrosse player in your "younger days" Tell everyone a bit more about that experience
I was a Division III lacrosse player in a very competitive conference. I started my career as a goalie and was an All-County goalie on Long Island. I switched positions in college and became a face-off midfielder. I don't play competitively anymore, but I do give private face-off lessons.
In addition to being a great lacrosse player, you're also known around the office to be a CrossFit enthusiast. What's your least favorite WOD (workout of the day) and why?
My least favorite WOD is called "King Kong":
- 3 rounds for time
- 1 deadlift at 455 lbs.
- 2 muscle-ups
- 3 squat cleans at 250 lbs.
- 4 handstand push-ups
I'm not a huge fan of deadlifts, especially heavy ones, so the fact that I had to do 3 of them was terrible.
Finally, word on the street is that you're an avid collector of bobbleheads. How many do you currently have in your collection and which one is your favorite?
I started collecting bobbleheads when I was very young and it has become a tradition for me to get 1 or 2 new ones every Christmas. I probably have about 70 bobbleheads right now and most of them are pop culture. My favorites are the ones that are related to comic books - Batman is my favorite and Mr. Freeze is a close second.