A Definitive Bio Of The MonaVie Founder
Dallin Larsen And The Teton Dam Disaster
It is lunchtime on the 5th June, 1976. In Rexburg, Idaho, a young boy named Dallin Larsen is sitting in the family farmhouse when his attention is caught by a noise coming from outside. He opens the front door with his father to see a local radio broadcaster driving through town with a loudspeaker, screaming at everyone to get to higher ground. Then all of a sudden he sees water. Masses and masses of water, pouring down the valley like a tidal wave towards him. Within minutes, the Larsen family are sitting at their vantage point, watching as the wall of water carries away entire houses and destroys everything in its path. 11 people, and 13,000 cattle are dead. The Larsen family’s chain of clothes stores have all been destroyed, and the family home is a wreck. The Teton Dam had collapsed with catastrophic consequences, and a young boy would never be the same again.
Yet looking back on this event more then three decades later, Dallin Larsen calls this disaster ‘a blessing’. How could such a catastrophe have changed this young boy’s life for the better? In this bio, we tell the story of how the Teton Dam disaster led Dallin Larsen to found MonaVie, and create one of the fastest growing companies in America.
Larsen’s Early Years
Dallin Larsen grew up in Rexburg, Idaho, and was one of 7 sons and 3 daughters born to Keith and Betty Larsen (In adulthood, Larsen would come to be father to 10 children of his own). Of his siblings, Shawn went on to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become mayor of Rexburg, whilst Randy would help Dallin found MonaVie many years later.
As a boy Dallin and his brothers would undertake hard manual labour on the local farms, moving sprinkler pipes by hand. He would also be expected to carry out tasks around the house for his parents. At school, Dallin was a popular boy who got on with everyone, and so it was clear from an early age that he had both the work ethic and the charisma to succeed in business. Larsen would later attribute much of his success to his upbringing. His parents, he said, gave him ‘roots and wings…and taught (him) how to work hard’.
The collapse of the Teton Dam, however, was one of the key events in moulding Larsen’s vision. He claims that amid the devastation and heartache, he saw the goodness of people, and how they pulled together to help everyone. People from his own town and neighboring towns rallied together, and Larsen saw ‘the power and synergy of people working together for a common good’. This desire to unite people for good would ultimately lead to the formation of MonaVie in the years that followed.
Larsen’s Involvement With Mormonism
Dallin Larsen studied a B.S. Degree in Finance at Brigham Young University in Utah. Brigham Young University is America’s largest religious university, and is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church. Brigham Young was the leader of the Mormon movement from 1847 until his death in 1877. He was the founder of Salt Lake City, and it is after him that the university is named. Young is generally regarded as being responsible for placing racial restrictions on the Church’s priesthood, limiting the ability of black African Mormons to participate in the Church. The modern-day university’s students are almost entirely members of the Mormon Church, and approximately 97% of male graduates from the institution have taken a 2-year break from their degree to serve as Mormon missionaries.
Larsen And MLM
Upon leaving the University, Dallin Larsen became involved in multi-level marketing, but success did not come instantly to him. Prior to MonaVie Larsen had been a senior executive with another MLM company, Dynamic Essentials, which sold a similar juice product to the one MonaVie would later produce, but it was shut down by the Federal Drug Administration only a year after Larsen left his role, for falsely claiming that its Tongan Royal Limu juice was scientifically proven to cure diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. He had better luck at USANA, however, where under his direction sales grew from zero revenue to over $120million annually.
In 2003 Larsen founded an MLM company called Monarch Health Sciences, which sold weight-management products, and in 2005, after the development of the juice product by his associate Ralph Carson, Larsen founded MonaVie which superseded his old company, and took over production and distribution of the juice. Larsen hoped to create a business where everybody would pull in the same direction, and move towards a common goal. The legacy of the Teton Dam disaster is ingrained in the MonaVie ethos.
MonaVie experienced a monumental rise in fortunes, becoming one of America’s fastest growing companies. Larsen, in his 2009 message to the MonaVie family, compared the company to Avon, which had been in existence for 123 years, and called his own company ‘pre-kindergarten’ in comparison. Using this metaphor, the cumulative sales of more than $2billion in 4 years seems even more impressive.
Problems For MonaVie
Despite his success, however, the old problems from his previous companies have continued to follow Dallin Larsen around. In 2007, for example, the FDA forced MonaVie to remove certain distributor testimonies from their website over allegations that they were illegally claiming the product was an effective drug against various ailments. It is a story that bears unwelcome similarities to the problems that beset Dynamic Essentials. In his defence, Larsen has blamed individual distributors for many of the false claims, suggesting that it is ‘next to impossible’ to control every single person, and comparing it to ‘ like herding cats’. In an explosive outburst at the MonaVie Anaheim Regional in 2008, Larsen warned the audience that “As independent distributors, I expect you to have values, and represent this company with integrity and honour. I can promise you, if I ever see you doing something innapropriate in the way you are representing this company, I will tell you.” The FDA later declared themselves satisfied with the steps taken by MonaVie in removing the claims from its website.
The MonaVie Success Story
In 2009, Dallin Larsen put his problems behind him by winning the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Utah region, and in the same year he was awarded the National Entrepreneur of the Year for Emerging Markets Award by the same company. A year later, in 2010, Larsen received the Utah Business Magazine’s CEO of the Year Award.
The MORE Charity Project
Shortly after the birth of MonaVie in 2005, Larsen had decided that the company’s phenomenal growth had put him in a position where he was able to give something back, and he actively began exploring the possibility of becoming involved in charitable work. Given that the main ingredient in his drink, the acai berry, is harvested from the rainforests in Brazil, Larsen chose to team up with a charity project run by Sergio Ponce, which helped those suffering from poverty in the country, and The MORE Project was established. The Project aims to provide food, clothing, shelter and education to underprivelaged and poverty-sticken children in brazil, and MonaVie pays 100% of the Projects administrative costs, as well as providing leadership and encouraging its distributors to support the project financially. On the MORE Project’s website Larsen states: “In a world of starters and few finishers, my greatest desire for the MORE Project is to finish what we’ve started”. MonaVie, and Larsen specifically, remains committed to the MORE Project.
Dallin Larsen has come a long way from the little boy who watched in terror as everything he knew was washed away by the flood water on that fateful day in 1976. He hasn’t allowed it to hold him back, and with 2010 predicted as a year of ‘unprecedented growth’ for MonaVie, the Dallin Larsen success story may have several more chapters left to run yet.
Dallin Larsen has been in trouble for his companies making false claims about their products. To find out whether MonaVie really does what it claims to do, check out Does MonaVie Really Work? The Truth Behind The MonaVie Drug Scam
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