VanderSloot, Melaleuca’s Saving Grace: Saint Or Sinner?
When it first opened, Oil of Melaleuca was just another typical multilevel marketing business; an unsuccessful one at that. The company had several problems– their products were not FDA approved, they exaggerated their success, and also made several false statements, such as claiming to own 80% of the world’s melaleuca trees. In 1985 when Frank L. VanderSloot joined as CEO, he wasn’t impressed with what he saw. He shut it down, and opened up Melaleuca Inc.
VanderSloot has been hailed as a man of great ethics and morals, a man of the people. But CEOs have a terrible reputation: blinded by greed, they will stomp on the little man to make money. Is VanderSloot really cut from a different cloth or is he just another CEO sinner?
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VanderSloot’s Creation Of Melaleuca.
When VanderSloot took control, he wanted to move away from the MLM structure, as he disagreed with inventory loading, pushing start up packs, and how “not a lot of product gets to the end consumer.” MLMs are also associated with “get rich quick” schemes, and are notorious for having a high failure rate. VanderSloot structured Melaleuca to benefit the customers as best he can, and so created a Consumer Direct Marketing (CDM) structure. Using his B.S. Degree in business management, he designed (and trademarked) a compensation plan where consumers can earn commission from referring other customers to Melaleuca. Think of it as a loyalty points scheme- as a thank you for introducing Melaleuca to your friends, the company will reward you, but instead of loyalty points, you will earn 7% of your friend’s monthly shopping total every month that they are a Melaleuca customer.
This compensation structure highly favors the customer. CDM is designed to make customers feel valued and treasured, implying VanderSloot has customers’ best intentions at heart.
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VanderSloot- The Family Man.
VanderSloot is a family man, with 6 children and 8 step children. To him, family is the most important part of life, and it is critical to find the correct balance between work and family. His strong family values are portrayed in every aspect of Melaleuca: from the business model built to provide families with extra income to the products designed to be safer for home use. The intention to improve family life is portrayed in Melaleuca’s 2009 Annual Income Statistics report,which states:
“Melaleuca advocates that Marketing Executives keep their full-time job and work their Melaleuca business in their spare time. … Melaleuca strongly advocates that Marketing Executives do not quit their full-time job until their Melaleuca income far surpasses the income they receive from their full-time employment.”
Melaleuca does not want you to drop everything and dedicate yourself to the company until you are sure you can sustain a high enough residual income. VanderSloot wants you to be sure that you can support your family first and foremost. This is another example of how he is working to benefit consumers lives, not just pocket their cash. If he were the stereotypical CEO, his main concern would be making money, regardless of the cost.
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VanderSloot- A Man Of The People
VanderSloot’s dedication to helping Average Joe seems to stem from his childhood. His family struggled financially, and shopped at cheap, discount stores. Having first hand experience of living on a low income, and witnessing the difficulties it entails, it appears he wants to help as many people as possible to become financially stable. His caring nature derives from his religious upbringing. VanderSloot has been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints since 1965, and served a two year mission in the Netherlands. VanderSloot is still actively involved in his local church, and this demonstrates his kindness, and desire to give back and help his community grow.
So far, VanderSloot appears like he is cut from a different cloth that other CEOs are made of. He has a desire to improve customers’ everyday lives, and help them grow their business and wealth. A family orientated, religious, ethical man. He seems like the perfect man, building the perfect business.
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VanderSloot- Not So Perfect?
However, maybe VanderSloot isn’t so perfect. After digging a little deeper, I discovered he regularly funds and distributes anti-homosexual propaganda. VanderSloot takes out regular advertising space in his local paper, The Post Register. This space, entitled The Community Page, acts as an opinion column for VanderSloot to voice his views. The Community Page, which has been running since 2004, has been the subject of a level of controversy, most notably regarding Peter Zuckerman.
Zuckerman published an exposé on child abuse in the Boy Scouts and the Mormon Church in Idaho. VanderSloot responded to Zuckerman’s articles with The Community Page, making sly attacks at Zuckerman’s homosexuality. The Community Page has also encouraged readers to vote yes on The Marriage Amendment which would prevent gay marriage, stating that voting yes “is just common sense”. VanderSloot launched a public relations campaign against the broadcasting of documentary “It’s Elementary”,which talks about gay issues in school in a bid to address anti-gay prejudice. VanderSloot did not feel it was appropriate to show to children.
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It is apparent that VanderSloot strongly disagrees with same sex relationships, and has some right-wing political views. But, does this make him any less of a great businessman? For instance, Kate Moss’s drug use and excessive partying didn’t make her any less of a great model. Sure, his personal attitudes might be controversial, but his business ethics have never been questioned. Melaleuca has won several awards, notably “The BBB Torch Award” in 2008. This award honors Melaleuca for it’s example of ethics and integrity in dealing with customers, employees and the community. VanderSloot himself has also received rewards, such as American Solutions 2009’s “Entrepreneur of the Year”.
There is also little evidence to suggest that homosexuals are not able to purchase Melaleuca products, or become Melaleuca Marketing Executives.
VanderSloot- Saint or Sinner?
It seems VanderSloot is not so different from your sterotypical CEO. It is worth noting that he has openly expressed his controversial opinions, and has not tried to hide this from the public like other CEOs may be inclinded to do. Whether or not you agree with his views, at least VanderSloot is straight with you; what you see is what you get.
It is clear that his business is aimed at improving his customers’ lives. Melaleuca still has family and customers’ best intentions at heart. Melaleuca Inc was created to better enrich customers’ lives and help them earn a living, and that is what it continues to do today.
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