Natural health is big business – with so many supplements and health products on the market it’s hard to know what to choose. How do you know if you’re getting a good quality vitamin or a product that actually works and is worth your money? There’s one company out there that really has its customers, and their health, at its very heart.
Richard Jones (60) set up his natural health care company, Wellbeing, 25 years ago in 1988. At the time Richard knew little about supplements or natural health care. “A relative had been told by her doctor to take evening primrose oil for her period pains,” says Richard. “We couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made and we started recommending it to friends. I loved being able to tell people about something that could really help them. I quickly realised that there was a gap in the market for good quality natural healthcare products via mail order. I’d found something really great that I wanted to share.”
Richard visited health food shops writing down the names of wholesalers and supplement manufacturers. He wrote letters asking if he could sell their products mail order – 99 per cent of them didn’t reply or said no. Finally a Health Food manufacturer in Yorkshire took a chance on Richard. With a range of six basic supplements including evening primrose oil, from there Wellbeing was born.
At the time Richard was a stay-at-home dad looking after his daughter, Sally. It wasn’t long before customers were won over by the excellent products and efficient customer service. Through word of mouth the business grew and grew.
“Within three years I even had to ask Sally’s child minder, who collected her from school, to help out during the day because we were so busy,” says Richard.
Wellbeing was very much a kitchen table enterprise. “At one point there were seven people working in our front room, which had been turned into an office and packing room; the hall and loft were full of stock and we ended up having to build a conservatory on the house so we actually had somewhere to live.”
Richard’s mother, Aunt Betty, and neighbours all worked for Richard taking orders and packing parcels for customers.
It was an advert in Yours that really helped Wellbeing to take off. “Some of those first customers have been buying our products for years,” says Richard. “But I like to think they come back for our customer service too. We treat our customers the way we’d like to be treated ourselves, and I think that our customers are loyal because we look after them.”
Quality is important to Richard and all the supplements offered by Wellbeing are made in Preston, by a pharmaceutical grade manufacturer. “I’m careful about where I buy products from, I need to know they’re good quality and that they work,” say Richard. “Many of our products come from the UK and the others are made by companies in Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia, all of whom have quality at their core too.”
Many of the items sold by Wellbeing were found to treat family health problems. First came the evening primrose oil, and then the Aloe Vera juice that helped to soothe Aunt Betty’s diverticulitis. When Richard developed sciatica from lifting heavy stock boxes he wanted a topical treatment to rub on his back. A friend recommended Pernaton Gel for Richard to try – and now thousands of customers love it and swear by it for soothing aching joints.
Richard is so passionate about Pernaton Gel that when the German manufacturer who made it was bought out by a Swiss firm he travelled to Switzerland to convince them to get it back on the shelves. It’s now a best seller for both companies.
Even though Wellbeing has grown over the past 25 years it’s still very much a family business. Richard’s wife Lyn is in charge of the office and the accounts. His mother in law Jean at the age of 82 still carefully packs boxes making sure that every supplement reaches the customer in perfect condition. “It’s a happy place to work – if you work hard to keep your customers happy then your staff can be happy too,’ says Richard.
Richard is very proud of Wellbeing. “It’s fantastic to have built a company that is still thriving after 25 years,” he says. “There’s no doubt that the economic climate has been tough but I think our values of great customer service, excellent products that really work and good value for money have helped us stay strong.
“I love what I do. I love to hear that we have helped someone to feel better. Reaching 25 years is a milestone for the business but I hope we’ll be here much longer. I’ll probably need a bigger warehouse to keep more stock in, but other than that we’ll keep going as we are. People often ask me when I’ll retire but I don’t plan to – if I’m anything like Jean I’ve still got another 22 years to go – at least.”
To order supplements from Wellbeing, call 0121 444 6585 (lines open Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm) or visit www.wellbeing-uk.com. Free Delivery on all UK orders.