UST: Leading the Field of Supplement Manufacturing
Meet two key staff members of UST: Adam Miller and Dr. Michael Felley. They’ll tell you how their zeal for supplements manufacturing initiated a life-changing journey.
A winding path to a passion for supplements.
“I actually started in direct response, buying print ads and running radio to host real estate seminars,” says Miller. With a background working in real estate in Florida, he joined a direct response call center when the economy tanked.
While going through another transition away from the call center, a former competitor connected him with UST. He loved UST’s emphasis on meeting customers face to face. It felt like he’d stumbled onto a fast-growing family business.
Coming to UST benefited him on a personal level, too, as his health had reached a low point. “About ten years ago, I weighed about 75 pounds more than I do now,” he says. “I kind of went down a fitness journey. Coming to UST and being able to formulate and work on products that I was passionate about was amazing.”
What sets UST apart from the crowd?
“Our customers are our lifeblood,” Miller asserts. They’re committed to full transparency and always having their customers’ back. “We have a handful of billion-dollar clients, which is kind of rare for a company of our size. It comes down to their peace of mind because if you hit it big in this industry, the FDA is going to come knocking – and UST has a spotless track record.” “In fact, on the last two FDA visits, they had no recommendations, which is almost unheard of,” Miller says.
World-class experts also set UST apart from the competition. Dr. Michael Felley came to the industry via a career in medicine. He’d previously worked as the assistant CEO at Ranger Medical in Denver. Word of a position at UST immediately intrigued him.
The three on-site laboratories particularly impressed him – he knew he’d be producing the best-quality product. He read voraciously, absorbing every peer-reviewed article he could find. “I just got hooked,” Dr. Felley says. “I don’t know everything. But I can point you in the right direction and give you a quick answer as to what you need to put into your formula.” Sometimes clients come to him with only a vision; others have a rudimentary formula. They might need help making the active ingredients more absorbable or ensuring they’re at safe levels.
Supplement manufacturers often have a “fingers-crossed” attitude, Dr. Felley says. That’s not good enough. “That’s another good thing about having a doc on board,” Dr. Felley points out.
Who is UST’s ideal customer?
“The ideal clients are serious marketers who want to do things the right way,” Miller says. UST’s founders launched the company 20 years ago “to help the little guy who had the big idea that couldn’t hit the minimums of the big boys,” explains Miller. “We’re still true to that.”
Their 345 staff formulators are adept at helping clients hit their price point for their dream formula. Sometimes lowering the volume of active ingredients by adding ingredients that get them into the bloodstream faster reduces costs. “Obviously, the goal is to help them scale [and] keep the cost down so that they can build a business with lots of recurring volume.”
What are some red flags in a manufacturing lab?
Many labs drive prices down by leaving out vital controls. UST cuts no corners. “We have the nation’s leading botanists literally just looking at samples under a microscope to make sure that the plant parts are what they say,” Miller says. “Every single thing that comes in, we test.”
They’ll test a sample to ensure it’s safe, uncontaminated, and at the appropriate potency level. “After we blend and encapsulate it, we retest again,” Miller notes. “We’ve never missed a test as well. There’s never a time where we go, ‘Well, we’re running late on this product to ship it through, and we’ll just cross our fingers that everything went well.”
With 40 of 180 employees in the quality department, quality control is UST’s primary strength. It even has its own building. In fact, Miller says, “Most manufacturers are going away from quality as a business model. We’re one of the very few who are actually going the opposite direction – we’re making very large capital investments into quality because we want to separate ourselves from the pack.”