The domains, http://prerogatives.org and http://myprerogative.org now point off to identical sites (different only in name and counter ... so I can track different ads) which wrap a little frame of my information around the official information site for The BSE Pad™, a new product from the Unicity Network, which is an aid for women's monthly breast self-exams.
This is the first thing in ages that I've done for my Unicity business, and I hope it bears some fruit. As I may have mentioned in this space previously, that whole end of things has been an on-going challenge for me as well. A few years ago the then-R.S.I. business was growing great, had a superior product line, great synergies with other divisions of Rexall Sundown, was pioneering web-based preventative healthcare sites, and had a compensation plan that was so straight-forward that you could write it out on the back of a napkin or teach it to a 6-year-old. Then, three years ago this week, the huge Dutch nutritional company, Royal Numico, swept in with a buy-out (as it had previously done with GNC the year before) and everything changed.
First of all, there was this "other" network marketing company in the mix, Enrich International, which had a business model that could not have been MORE different from that of R.S.I., and a product line that was, to our side at least, suspect at best (except for their breakthrough skin-care line). Initially the two companies were going to be run side-by-side, but issues arose, first regarding back-of-the-house redundancy (at which point all the billing, manufacturing, and shipping operations for the two companies were combined), and then in regards to R&D products coming out from Numico ... which company would get what products and why? Eventually the decision came down to merge R.S.I. and Enrich in to the new Unicity Network. As some of the industry mags put it, it was like joining up the Hatfields and McCoys, as the two companies had been direct competitors for ages, and R.S.I. was a "business first" model which focused on pitching our heart-disease preventative flagship Bios Life 2® product to "successful people" with large "circles of influence" while Enrich had a model that said "you shouldn't even mention the business until you know the persons carpet color, their kids' and pets' names, where they grew up, etc.", pretty much selling a bottle of this here and pack of that there to everybody they knew. Worse still, Enrich had one of those "something for everybody" compensation plans that was so complicated that nobody really knew it, and in order to placate their distributors our back-of-the-napkin plan went out the window in favor of the current "10 profit center" plan, with bonuses for this that and the other thing (top R.S.I. distributors started bitching immediately that they did not need the damn new cars every year that the plan insisted they buy!).
I was still dutifully going off to mini-conventions around the country to find out what was happening at this point. Most of our old Rexall management team had gone out with the buy-out (Rexall Sundown having been primarily owned by the DeSantis family, our "main guy" Damon DeSantis had been put on the Numico board but not in daily contact with our business) and it was becoming clear that the Enrich management team was going to be taking things over. I went to the Los Angeles convention just to "take a look at" the new team. This was not all bad, as they had, when they were bought by Numico (in the GNC deal) brought in a new head honcho, Richard Bizarro, to run things ... and I think that he has what it takes to make this thing evolve to "what it can be" in time.
One of the "this has got to give" things was the product line ... or product lines ... there were many duplicate products that had been going head-to-head now being sold side-by-side. Well, instead of a gradual process, there was a massacre. They cut out all of our "targeted" vitamin lines (i.e., we had daily vitamins for kids, women, teens, energy, diet, etc. etc. etc.), and cut out all of their "commodity" herbal lines (i.e., single-ingredient things), came out with a new "daily pack" line that superceded both previous versions, etc. I think that everybody lost a favored product in this (they even dumped In-Vigor-Ol, my much-used homeopathic stimulant!). I'm not sure of the actual numbers, but I think that when they were done, the new product line had less than half the items on it that either previous line had. Again, here was a problem ... I, at least, no longer had a sense of "who we were" from a product basis, to go along with the comp-plan issues of not being able to describe "what the business was about" in any detail!
O.K., so ... the buy-out came in May 2000, the merger in 2001, and the product line crunch into 2002. Everything's smooth sailing at this point, right? Uh, well, no. It turns out that Numico pretty much just "went shopping" for U.S. companies (which were selling at a deep discount due to the market dip in the nutritional industry) without much thought. Within four years of buying GNC, Numico was looking to "dump" all these new toys, including Unicity. Numico announced its intent to unload Unicity last November, and signed a letter of intent to sell it to a U.S.-based investment group in March ... the dust has not yet settled on this little bit of chaos, and except for doing Google searches, we've been pretty much kept in the dark on what's going on (the word has been, however, that the current management group is staying in place and that the new "owner" had experince in the industry, having founded beauty.com which he later sold to drugstore.com, so he at least has some context for the web end of the business).
So, all this spewing is pretty much to put in context how "bravely ventured" putting out some new sites feels to me at this point. Since the new ownership thing isn't set yet, I'm SURE there will be lots more chaos forthcoming for Unicity. However, I still feel that the core product line is SO strong that we will eventually burst forth with renewed vigor (of course, this is from my perspective, a lot of Unicity folks just sailed on through this with well-established customer bases that didn't even notice the changes going on!) and I will eventually be making some income on this.
Anyway, do check out the info on those sites ... the new product is pretty amazing (not that I've had any opportunity to use it, being a guy!). If you want more info on any of this stuff, let me know.