August 7, 2023
In the competitive world of dietary supplement ingredient suppliers, dynamic supply chain leaders stand out—especially when it comes to how they carried themselves through the challenges of Covid-19 and the ensuing years.
I asked Melissa Mack, Brea Viratos, Wilson Lau, Mark LeDoux and Jim Emme several questions concerning their leadership and values relative to navigating the various supply chain challenges experienced during the pandemic. Their responses gave immense insight into how they all led through the unprecedented times—and how and who influenced their lives to lead the way they do.
This article—the final in this series—is about Jim Emme.
His story. Helping people. This is the life mission Jim Emme learned through his upbringing as a young boy growing up on his parents’ farm in Indiana, a mission which he continues today as CEO of NOW Health Group (NOW).
Emme has been a member of the NOW management team since 1995, initially as chief of operations and then as president of NOW. He was promoted to CEO of NOW Health Group in 2014 when the then-CEO Al Powers retired from the role.
Nearly a decade later, Emme remains the CEO of a family-owned business and leads with one key focus, among others: helping people and the company be the best they can be. When you speak with this giant-spirited man, you immediately encounter his passion for helping people and his humble yet resolute approach to leading and serving others.
His influencers. Without question, Emme shares his parents were the initial powerful influencers in his life. But what does a middle school basketball coach and a Marine Corps official who also impacted him have in common?
Well, to Jim Emme, a lot. Both men were responsible for challenging him to lift people up. “True leadership is to work to lift people up,” he said. “The most important word being the word ‘help.’” Emme went on to explain the importance to him of helping others become the best they can be.
Another common denominator of these influencers in his life was to ensure that he modeled good habits for others to follow. “I don’t ask people to do the things I am not willing to do myself,” Emme said. He highlights this as two key values yet adds a third, which he says is equally as important, “Be your authentic self.”
Emme remarks with great belief that “leadership casts a very long shadow” and so it is important that leaders be consciously mindful of the following fundamental principles: modeling behavior, being respectful, and always doing the right things for the right reasons.
As an influencer himself, both to his peers and those within his company, Emme believes that sustained influence requires building authentic relationships, finding common ground regardless of differences and seeking to learn about each other’s differences without compromising integrity.
Above all, the message he holds is, “Stay true to your values.” Throughout the pandemic, these values were anchors, not only for himself, but for his company and customers. These values are reflected in NOW’s people, processes and sustained delivery of quality products.
The power of NOW. When asked how he could impact the global supply chain, Emme was quick to acknowledge such an effort could only be accomplished with the resources and support of the company he leads. As one of the largest independent natural products brands in the U.S. health food market, Emme confidently explained that NOW has increasingly invested in the ongoing mission and responsibility of ensuring the integrity and quality of its own sourced ingredients and manufactured products throughout the global supply chain. Included in this commitment is the endeavor embarked upon by the company to test other supplement products sold online through Amazon.
Prompted by declining online Amazon sales in 2017, NOW began this testing program. According to Emme, the independent testing program revealed substandard products are being sold by brands that are less known in the industry, and as a result, it is bringing into question the integrity of all dietary supplements sold. A key goal of the program is to “show up the bad players,” he said ardently.
Rather than do nothing and complain about what FDA is not doing—which Emme noted he also talks about within the industry—he said NOW’s testing of other online brands is done in a fair way. Companies whose products are identified as having an issue are contacted by NOW because NOW believes it is important to share the information and be transparent. Careful to note the company’s own shortcomings, Emme openly states, “We’re not a perfect company ourselves. We do make mistakes, but if we do, we have to make it right.”
While he acknowledged other companies are doing things right like NOW, he said NOW is probably the only company in the U.S. or even Canada that has invested so much into ensuring product quality. “It’s the impact of our modeling,” Emme said, “making sure our products are also good, and we’re not cheating the consumers.”
It’s no surprise that with a leader like Emme at the helm, NOW has taken the lead as “industry guardian” of the supply chain, holding accountable large online retailers like Amazon.
On the future. Helping people. “We are very blessed to be in the industry we are in because we all produce products that help people live healthier lives,” Emme said. This is an important reminder to the industry as Emme ends the discussion.
Considering the supply chain challenges, he provided the encouragement that challenging times make us get better. He concluded with a call to action to the industry for the future—that we all lead with the fundamental values he spoke about.
Those values are the “Golden Rule” of doing the right thing for the right reason, to be thankful for everything, to have hope, and finally, remembering that “hardships produce change that give the opportunity to write a story that is powerful.”
These values, when implemented, demonstrate we can learn from each other and come out stronger and better together as individuals, not just as an industry.
Founder and CEO of DF Guardian Consulting, Heather Fairman is a skilled science and executive professional with over 30 years’ executive leadership and management experience with highly effective results in regulatory affairs, QA/QC environments in the dietary supplement, food supplement, supply chain segment, biologics, OTC pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Fairman has assisted and led companies through numerous FDA audits; assisted with FDA 483 responses; averted recalls and warning letters; and established effective quality management systems, sustainable compliance and regulatory infrastructure, and organizational programs that have fostered and established mutually beneficial contract manufacturer partnerships. Connect with or contact her via LinkedIn.
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