Wayne Parent - President of Nutrition House Canada

Date: APR 27th, 2012

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Wayne is a senior executive with extensive experience in business development and management. He has been president of Nutrition House Canada Inc. since May 1996. His engineering background along with his Master’s Degree in Business Administration make him ideally suited to manage and grow all aspects of the organization.

Wayne has developed strong relationships with all the major landlords in Canada and has worked closely with designers to develop the cutting edge look and layout of the Nutrition House stores. He has also been instrumental in cultivating the team of Managers and Directors that together guide and support the franchisees.

BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the Nutrition House Concept?

Wayne Parent: Our mission statement says it all..."lead and foster well-being, responsibly". nutrition house is Canada's leading Natural Health franchise, with over 70 retail stores located in high profile regional shopping centers across the country. The Natural Health Products industry is one of the fastest growing retail industries, with annual sales approaching $4 Billion in CANADA.

Nutrition House is a strong, progressive and proven franchise system, well positioned to capitalize on this growing market. We provide the best products the industry has to offer, sold by knowledgeable, qualified staff in our distinctive "Sedona-themed stores”.

Our products include national brands of vitamins, supplements, body care and sports nutrition products, as well as exclusive nutrition house extra products and co-branded extra-value products. We also carry complimentary products, such as blood pressure monitors, pedometers, aromatherapy products and more, to round out our offering and help our customers achieve "well-being". In our larger format stores we also carry Specialty Grocery items, such at Diabetic Friendly, Gluten Free, and Low Carb products.

Our buying power, extensive operational and nutritional training, site selection, lease negotiation, proprietary POS system, Loyalty Program, ongoing training and support and national advertising set us apart in the Canadian industry. We're looking to recruit franchise partners who are committed to operating their own Natural Health business, and understand the power of a successful BRAND.

Nutrition House stores feature a warm, inviting South-Western themed décor, and our Natural Health Product Advisors provide friendly, knowledgeable service, creating a shopping experience that keeps customers coming back.

Founded in 1979 as a family business, we began franchising in 1993 expanding nationwide to fulfill our commitment to better the health of Canadians. Today, over 70 nutrition house stores are located in major shopping centers across Canada and in the US. We offer one of the largest variety of natural health products of any Canadian chain, including National Brand Products, as well as our own line of Proprietary Branded “extra” products.

The Franchise System offers franchisees assistance in all aspects of the business. Each Franchisee receives initial training and education courses and ongoing support and education during the Term.

BTB: How and when did you become involved with Nutrition House?

WP: I became involved with nutrition house in 1993, when I met Lillian Dominguez, who later became my wife. Lilian, her brother Aldo, and mother Amelia were operating a nutrition house store at the Toronto Eaton Centre as a family business, and had just opened a new store at Fairview Mall in North Toronto, which they wanted to franchise. I had franchising and construction experience, so helped out wherever I could.

The expansion pace for the first couple years was 1 to 2 stores per year, but by 1996, with a total of 6 stores, things started to heat up. GNC was expanding into Canada, and we could see that it would be a “race for space” in the major shopping centers. At that point, we approached the first two franchisees to see if they would like to become partners and provide the company with needed expansion capital. They agreed, and with that, things went into high gear. When the money was raised and the company structure finalized, I came on full time to grow the franchise business, and haven’t looked back since.

BTB: What was your background prior to joining the Company?

WP: I originally went to University and studied Civil Engineering. After graduating and working for a couple of years, I decided to go back to school to get my MBA. I worked in a couple different industries in various capacities before a friend of mine approached me about a new franchise concept from Quebec called Video Cube.

I was intrigued, and decided to make the leap to franchising, and we secured the rights for Ontario. We grew that chain to about 25 locations before taking over a public company called Nelson Vending Technology (NVT). NVT operated the Amazing Video Machine in over 200 locations. Once the takeover was complete, we merged the company with Cinram, a large CD/DVD manufacturing and distribution company.

BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Nutrition House franchisee?

WP: Nutrition House has developed a comprehensive support system to provide our franchisees with the guidance to succeed. Our support team covers store construction, merchandising, start-up, operations marketing, human resources, operations and product training. Our Franchisees benefit by operating a proven brand with superior purchasing power, strong regional support, ongoing training and marketing (national and local).

One of the best things about becoming a nutrition house franchisee is making money helping people live healthier lives. In addition to the improved lifestyle which job satisfaction, independence and financial security can bring, franchisees improve their own personal overall wellness with what they’ve learned.

BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?

WP: The ideal franchisee is someone who loves living a healthy, active lifestyle and is passionate about helping people. Ideally they’ll have good interpersonal skills, be good communicators, and equally good listeners. Ideally, they’ll have experience in the Natural Health Products industry, or at least in general retail. They’ll have a desire not only to go through the initial product training, but to continue to improve their product knowledge and customer service skills.

BTB: Tell us a little about the Natural Health Products Industry.

WP: The Natural Health Products Industry in Canada is a $4 Billion industry and is experiencing unprecedented growth. This is largely a result of the aging “baby boomer” generation choosing to take control of their own health. They’re concerned about the future of the healthcare system, and simply want to live better, longer.

Rather than waiting until health problems develop and reacting by taking prescription medication, people are being proactive by eating properly, exercising and supplementing their diets with vitamins and nutritional supplements. But the industry is not limited to baby boomers. Whether male, female, young or old, single or married, ethnic or non-ethnic, anyone who cares about their health can benefit from Natural Health Products.

Currently 75% of all Canadians use Natural Health Products.

BTB: Do you have a mentor and is their someone you use for inspiration?

WP: Yes, Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s Restaurants and Ron Joyce the founder of Tim Horton’s. McDonalds has become a worldwide brand built on the strength of its unique design and its relationships with Landlords, franchise partners and product suppliers. Tim Horton’s has become a Canadian Icon based on exactly the same principals. The growth of nutrition house across Canada and now into the United States has been based on similar principals.

BTB: What advise do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

WP: Make sure you’re passionate about the business! After all, it’s something that you’ll be spending at least the next ten years doing - you should love what you do. Once you decide on a business, make sure you do your research on the Franchisor. Do they have a strong Brand? Have they been in business for a long time? How many locations do they have? Speak to the existing franchisees. Ask about Training Programs, Opening and Ongoing Support, Marketing and Loyalty Programs.

Entering into a Franchise Relationship is a commitment. If you’re not good at following rules and regulations, franchising may not be for you. However, if you’re a team player, it can be very rewarding.

BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that nutrition house would be a great opportunity for someone?

WP: We are the leaders in the high growth Natural Health Products industry, which is approaching $4 Billion annually in Canada. We carry the best quality vitamins, supplements and sports nutrition products the industry has to offer. Our store design and layout is without doubt the best in the industry. We have a very strong Brand with over 70 stores in high profile shopping centres across the country and into the US. Our training and ongoing support are second to none. Our national advertising is very effective at getting new customers into the stores, and our Loyalty Program keeps them coming back. In short, we have the experience, programs, and knowledge to help someone who is passionate about the industry, succeed in operating their own Natural Health store.