Market Insights: Consultants Can Help Grow Your Business

By Sheldon Baker
[email protected]

So I’m biased. I’ve been a member of the Consultants Association for the Natural Products Industry (CANI) since longer than I can remember. I’m a past president and currently hold the position of secretary.

CANI has been good to me, it’s members and thousands of companies and organizations it has helped succeed in business since the early 90’s.

Success is often hard to define in business and especially the nutraceutical industry. Anyone can claim to be the best, first, only, largest, fastest growing and most successful. But CANI truly has been successful.

Twelve years ago, as the natural products marketplace started to expand, CANI was formed by a group of business consultants led by Suzanne Shelton of The Shelton Group, a Chicago-based public relations firm, committed to enhancing the growth and integrity of the industry. CANI brought together experts from the across the U.S. with the answers and knowledge to help build natural products industry businesses that included manufacturers, distributors and retailers. The organization was a win-win for the industry. CANI provided its members with a platform to showcase and network their services and provided natural products industry businesses with a resource to locate trusted and experienced professional business help.

Through the years, all CANI members have volunteered their time and effort to make the organization operate successfully. In addition to Shelton and myself, industry consultants Lauren Clardy, NutriMarketing, and Dr. Alexander Schauss, AIBMR, Inc., have also served as CANI presidents. Currently, Karena Dillon, of Baker-Dillon Public Relations, sits in the presidential suite in Northern California, surrounded by an experienced group of officers, directors and coordinators.

No matter how you slice it, 12 years is a long time and CANI is now stronger than ever. CANI has tax-exempt non-profit status. CANI membership includes a wide-range of expertise featuring many well-known industry consulting firms such as Weaver & Amin, The Natural Marketing Institute, Rosen Enterprises, The Wizard’s Cauldron and The MHM Group—overall, more than 30 consulting firms. CANI is also strong internationally with firms doing business worldwide and several members headquartered in other countries including Enviro-Test Laboratories, ICS and NPIcenter based in Canada, and Robert Forbes and Associates in Australia.

All CANI members have many years of natural products industry experience. Most companies focus their business in the nutraceutical marketplace. To be considered for membership, potential members must have a minimum of two industry clients.

How does CANI work? A company needing business help contacts the CANI office. They explain their dilemma or business need and a CANI officer refers them to a member company offering specific services requested by the caller. Companies then contact the CANI member and arrange to use their services. In a situation where more than one CANI member offers the same service, the company is given the name of each member.

If you’ve been to many of the leading industry trade shows, you’ve probably seen CANI exhibiting and promoting its consultants member services. The people in the booth are CANI members and volunteer their time.

“It’s not a requirement to participate at the trade show booth or volunteer your efforts in other ways,” says Bert Bogash, a packaging consultant with Premier Marketing Group, who along with Richard Meer of Engineering and Management Consultants, are the CANI trade show coordinators.

“It’s like anything you do…the more time you put into something, the more you get out of it,” adds Bogash.

CANI member companies offer specialized professional services including marketing, advertising, broker/distributor management, public relations/publicity, business strategy, event management, finance and accounting, foodservice, media training, executive/technical recruitment, scientific substantiation, video production, publishing, trademark, GMP, publishing, government regulations, import/export, industry analysis, insurance, legal, organizational development, package design, product development, risk management, product sourcing, sales management, store design, training and education, copywriting and web site design.

The success record for CANI members is continuously growing. One CANI member trained corporate sales teams to take the next step in leadership and sales management.Another firm has assisted retailers by improving their food service operations. Regulatory compliance and litigation involving foods and dietary/herbal supplements was provided by yet another CANI consulting firm. These are only a few examples from a lengthy list provided by CANI members.

“CANI members tend to form a tight knit networking group and refer business to each other,” says Karena Dillon.

“This is one of the many benefits for consultants who have become members,” notes Dillon.

Dillon also notes that a manufacturer could work with CANI to launch a new product.

“From ingredient sourcing and testing, legal services, package copy and design, product distribution and sales and advertising and publicity, we’ve got you covered.

“Or a retailer could find help with store design, store location analysis, competitive strategy, staffing, advertising and publicity.”

“CANI has been in the industry a long time and we’ve made ourselves quite visible to the alternative health marketplace,” says Robyn Fritz of the William Gallagher Associates, a leading industry insurance broker.

“The CANI member directory could be considered the “Yellow Pages” of industry consultants,” adds Fritz.

The CANI directory is available in hard copy and on the web site.

The climate for doing business in the nutraceutical, food and beverage, organic and other related health industries keeps changing. With more companies expanding domestically, as well as to international markets, there is a need to educate a multitude of audiences about new science and products. CANI and its members are ready to help.

Whether you’re a company needing business strategy help, or a consultant seeking to join an organization of professional business leaders who can provide such expertise, contact CANI at (559) 325-7192 or send an email to [email protected]. You can also visit the CANI web site at

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