Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Melaleuca holds open house at new world headquarters

Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot speaking on the grand staircase Monday at the company's new world headquarters south of Idaho Falls.
Melaleuca held an open house Monday at its new world headquarters south of Idaho Falls. Given its size, it’s impossible to ignore whichever way you are headed on Interstate 15.

With a 355,000-square-foot floor plan, it’s big enough to cover six football fields. The facility incorporates at large meeting room that can hold 1,700 people, a call center that can hold 400, and all the company’s research and development labs and audio and video studios.

All of it is paid for, said CEO Frank VanderSloot. With facilities in Idaho Falls, Rexburg, Knoxville, Tenn., and Shanghai, China, the company is debt-free, he said.

As big and new as the world headquarters building is, Melaleuca’s 30-year history has been mostly one of renovating old places. The company started in the old S&H Green Stamp building on Broadway in downtown Idaho Falls, where it stayed until 1991. By that point, worldwide sales had brought things to the point where people were crammed in shoulder to shoulder.

When the Ziggy’s Hardware store on South Yellowstone became available, that’s where they moved, renovating it and, in time, a building next door, acquired from the city of Idaho Falls. Meanwhile, research and development was conducted in the old Union Pacific depot, attracting hardly anyone’s attention.

The move to the location near Exit 113 has been a long time in the making. The company opened its $11 million, 150,000-square-foot distribution center there in 2007, announcing that it had repaid in full the $2.5 million interest-free loan it had received from the Regional Development Alliance in 2002. The RDA administers money from the 1995 settlement between the State of Idaho, U.S. Navy and Department of Energy over spent fuel at the Idaho National Laboratory.

At the time of the shipping center’s opening VanderSloot said he had created three time the jobs it had promised the RDA in its proposal.

The announcement that Melaleuca was moving its world headquarters came in December 2012, a year after the company announced its worldwide sales had passed the $1 billion mark.

The complex has been a keystone in the development of infrastructure in the New Sweden area. In 2004, it announced it was contributing $1.3 million toward the Regional Wastewater Treatment Project, a joint effort between Shelley, Ammon, Bonneville and Bingham counties (another $500,000 came from the State of Idaho).

When it came to the actual construction of the $60 million world headquarters, Bateman-Hall of Idaho Falls was the general contractor. Thirty-two Idaho subcontractors were engaged in the project, including Johnson Brothers of Idaho Falls, which did all of the woodwork.
Melaleuca vice-president Damond Watkins speaking Monday in the meeting room at Melaleuca's new world headquarters.