Gruppo Nutrition helps elite athletes, amateur athletes, and folks looking to live a healthy lifestyle reach their fullest potential. We formulate and manufacture high-quality energy powdered blends that meet the needs of just about any endurance athlete, cycling, running, triathlon, hockey, rowing…with the fuel they require to perform during activity and to recover fully so they can do it again tomorrow. We also focus on helping folks achieve their protein requirements when they can’t achieve them through real food alone.
We think of ourselves as much more than a product. We provide nutritional consults and webinars and support/participate in research trials throughout North America to study the impacts of protein and skeletal muscle health.
All of our values have multiple meanings and serve as a way we treat our fellow employees, our customers, and the partners we work with. These values are not just on our wall. They shape the way we behave while we run our business.
Tell us about yourself?
I am a lifelong athlete who studied at the University of Western in London and obtained a BSc. in Biology with an emphasis on microbiology. After working with Environment Canada as a Microbiologist, I joined Pfizer in London and quickly moved from the bench to operations leadership – I absolutely loved working with teams to get things done. After a plant closure eight years later, and wanting to stay local, I took a product manager role at a soft-gelatin contract manufacturer in Windsor – we made billions of DayQuil /NyQuil capsules. While I was a senior leader within the company, I was actively competing in Ironman Triathlons. I started using a product from the U.S. called Infinit Nutrition. After two years, I brought the brand to Canada. We set up a manufacturing and e-commerce business in 2006. Why did I pursue the opportunity? I romanticized making my livelihood by being immersed in a community I loved, and the thought of helping people be their best was really appealing. I remained at the soft-gelatin company until we had grown the business to where I felt comfortable going all in. That was in 2013.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
To outwardly set your intention and tell folks what you want to do or what you want. Until the business had the success that it sees today, I was a bit timid and rarely communicated our terms and what would be right for our business. Of course, we are not for everyone, but if you quickly communicate how you would like to work together, you can get to no fast and then on to folks that really see value in what you do.
What problem does your business solve?
We educate the consumer on what they require to perform at their best and offer products that align with this guidance. Our products are science-based, follow the latest research, and help folks reach beyond what they thought was possible. Specifically, on the protein side of things, we help folks get to their ideal protein intake. Absolutely critical that as we age beyond 40 that we follow the research and increase our total protein intake – getting the right amount of protein in helps folks hold on to their lean muscle mass and ultimately live a very active lifestyle long into their later years. Polar Joe offers convenient and delicious protein iced coffees that help individuals get their protein in if not all from real food.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Simply, I love helping people, and through our business, we are able to help folks live an active life and live long into their years.
What is your magic sauce?
Good question. Our magic sauce is our ability to listen and hear our customers/partners. We were fortunate enough to be approached by the Canadian Sport Institute in 2008. Since then, we have been working alongside of the top sports nutritionists, physiologists, athletes, and coaches (those we watch at the Olympics). Of course, we are super proud to have a part in these performances, but it has meant so much more to our business. It turns out that what works for our high-performance athletes in Canada is what is best for our customers. We continue to take our learnings from this partnership and build it into what we do for the general population we support.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
We just recently rebranded from Infinit Nutrition Canada to Gruppo Nutrition and Polar Joe. This happened in March 2022. We have had incredible growth since, nearly doubling our revenue, which is super exciting. Over the next five years, we want to continue to drive increased sales in Canada and in the U.S. Although we are seeing decent sales in the U.S., we see a big opportunity to grow our total North American sales. Simply, we are looking to double our sales year over year for the next five. We have a lot of momentum, and we are only just getting started. We have some excellent partners, like Movati Athletic, that are good sales revenue for us and good exposure for our brand. We are looking to bring on another business that does what Movati does – making incredible shakes and smoothies at their nutritional cafes. We are good for them, and they are great for us. Adding like-minded partners will be great for business and help us continue to increase our e-commerce customers.
At the end of five years, we could anticipate another company purchasing one or both brands. If that were to occur, I would always want to be part of the brand. I love working directly with our athletes and customers, and I hope I always have the ability to do that.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
The change in course in rebranding was something that we chose to do. The build for this rebrand occurred during the pandemic, which made it a bit more challenging, but forced us to find new customers. Now that the pandemic has ended, we are seeing some of the previous sales come back in line while the new areas are also growing.
The biggest challenge we face today is cash flow. These are good problems to have. As we increase our customer base and bring on larger customers, our inventory levels have had to increase. We are managing, but it continues to be something we have to manage carefully.
How can people get involved?
I would be thrilled if end-consumers reached out directly to me at 519-567-8851 or [email protected]. Also, if there are any like-minded individuals looking to make a difference in how folks live, I am always up for a conversation. I have a particular passion for the “aged population”, which I have firmly in at 55 years old. The research shows that if we keep moving, eat well (and get enough protein 1.6g/kg/body weight/day), and do a little resistance exercise three times a week, we can live well into our years. Doing this will improve the quality of life and reduce the impact on the healthcare system, as we see nearly 25 per cent of our Canadian Population in the Baby Boomer category.