Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Melaleuca says new patent will result in manufacturing, more jobs

Melaleuca President and CEO Frank VanderSloot

If you haven't heard much from Melaleuca about Oligo (pronounced oh-LEE-go), there's a reason. For the past three-and-a-half years, the Idaho Falls company has been using it in more than 30 of its wellness products, but it wasn't until Sept. 25 that it received a patent from the federal government.

With that piece of paper in hand, Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot said Wednesday that they're ready to go big next spring with a new manufacturing plant south of Idaho Falls that will employ hundreds of more people. Right now Melaleuca employs about 1,400 people in Idaho Falls and Rexburg.

Melaleuca is claiming that Oligo minerals are far more absorbable and generate fewer free radicals than the minerals used in everyday multivitamins. With its Vitality Pack vitamins and other nutritional supplements the company has already sold $414 million of products using Oligo.

"But that's without the marketing push we can do now," VanderSloot said. "It's a big deal to us."

In the time it took the patents to be approved, there was ample opportunity for the company's competitors, as well as the scientific and nutrition communities, to dispute Melaleuca's claims, VanderSloot said. Likewise, competitors could have claimed the technology was similar to something already invented.

The patent is good through 2030, and the company is already filing papers to extend it beyond then.

"We're going to be able to do more manufacturing, more research and development. We can invest," VanderSloot said.