A veteran of the nutrition and supplement industry, Jack Owoc founded VPX Sports Nutrition in 1993 to improve the quality of products in the specialty nutrition market. The chief executive and chief scientific officer of VPX was inspired by the lack of efficacy of some products in the performance market, he says. Owoc created the Weston, Fla.-based company determined to design and manufacture the most effective fat-burning, muscle-building and performance-enhancing supplements in the world, the company’s vision statement states.
VPX initially focused on sports nutrition supplements, but has since expanded into the ready-to-drink performance beverage market. VPX’s beverages, such as Redline Energy and Protein Rush, target consumers seeking drinks to improve performance, but the company is shaping up for a move into new areas.
VPX currently has a staff of 160 employees in its 244,000-square-foot office, where every aspect of its products – from research and development to manufacturing to sales and marketing – is handled, Owoc says. With everything under one roof, the company is positioned to innovate and create new RTD options with emerging ingredients and efficacy claims. Also, having performed well in specialty nutrition retailers, VPX is ready for growth in the direct-store-distribution market.
Ready, set, perform
Not keen on the term ‘functional,’ Owoc uses his own terminology to explain the benefits of VPX’s products, he says.
“I like to refer to the cutting edge ingredients we put into beverages as ‘MAPES,’ or Muscle Appearance and Performance Enhancing Supplements,” he says. “In fact, I authored a book called MAPES, along with 12 of the most cutting-edge university research scientists in the country that will soon be released.”
Recognizing the importance of product claims in its competitive market, VPX sponsors university-level studies on its products to test their efficacy, Owoc says.
“We have done so much human subject testing and have conducted eight university research studies with 12 being completed by June 2010,” he says. “Research and development is second nature to us.”
A test of Meltdown Fat Assault RTD drink performed at the College of New Jersey, Ewing, N.J., showed a 14 percent increase in metabolism for more than three hours per 4-ounce serving. Meltdown is packaged in 8-ounce bottles and available in Watermelon, Exotic Fruit and Peach Mango Flavors. VPX also created Meltdown Fat Assault Shot in Watermelon and Exotic Fruit flavors, which also contains two servings of metabolism boosting ingredients, the company says.
In addition, VPX’s Redline Xtreme product was shown to deliver several benefits in a 4-ounce serving. A College of New Jersey study found that 4-ounces of Redline Xtreme provided a 7.5 percent improvement in reaction time, 13 percent increase in energy and 15 percent increase in focus. Available in Grape, Watermelon, Peach Mango and Triple Berry, Redline Xtreme is packaged in an 8-ounce bottle and contains zero calories, sugar, carbohydrates and fat.
Redline Xtreme builds on Redline’s traditional energy and fat-burning ingredients. The original Redline Energy is formulated to induce a shivering response that coaxes the body to burn fat, VPX says. Redline is available in Triple Berry, Mandarin Orange, Grape, Peach Mango and its newest Lime flavor. The company recommends limiting servings to 4-ounces of its 8-ounce formula or half of its 2.5-ounce Redline Power Rush Energy Shot.
Serving sizes are a very important aspect of VPX’s products due to the high level of ingredients, the company says. VPX developed a drink regulation gauge for its packaging to indicate the proper serving size, Owoc says. Redline’s packaging features the gauge’s transparent panel to show the clear beverage in the bottle to indicate the proper serving size.
VPX also offers Protein Rush RTD beverages, which are formulated with 40 grams of high-grade protein and less fat, sugar and carbohydrates than the leading brand, it says. Protein Rush recently released a Cookies and Cream flavor. Like all VPX and Redline innovations, the VPX and Redline teams personally tested and approved the flavor, Owoc says.
“We do all of our liquid manufacturing in-house,” he says. “If we have to do 50 to 70 taste tests on a product with our in-house flavor experts – of which I am one and personally approve all flavors – then we will do what is necessary to develop a stellar taste profile.”
VPX also created a sweet-tasting protein shot, Power Hit Protein Candy, which contains 34 grams of protein, zero sugar, zero fat and zero carbohydrates in a 3-ounce shot, Owoc says. The company also offers a female-targeted protein shot, Princess Protein, which has 25 grams of protein and 100 calories in a 3-ounce shot.
A team effort
As with research and development, the company makes all decisions in-house, Owoc says.
“At VPX it’s all unilateral decisions that are made quickly and efficiently,” he says. “We don’t believe in committees. There is a great saying that, ‘No monument was ever built with a committee.’ We pride ourselves on speed to the marketplace. While other companies fumble around with making a decision, we are putting new innovations in the marketplace at record speed.”
The company’s recent innovations include Bluephoria, which is designed to increase brain activity, Owoc says. Although testing has yet to be conducted, Owoc predicts Bluephoria might improve on Redline Xtreme’s reaction time results with an added intelligence boost, he says.
In addition, Owoc has filed a patent for hydro-stable creatine, an ingredient that he foresees changing the landscape of performance beverages.
“The VPX stable liquid creatine drink called HydroForce is the weapon we will use to take the sports drink market by storm,” Owoc says.
The finalization of the hydro-stable creatine also will pave the way for a RTD version of VPX’s NO Shotgun product, which has been shown to increase muscle gene proteins up to 515 percent and increase muscle DNA by 1,600 percent in a study at Baylor University, Waco, Texas.
VPX is marketing its RTD lineup in outlets throughout the specialty nutrition industry, Owoc says. Redline Energy Drink is a top seller in GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Bally Total Fitness and 24-Hour Fitness outlets, Owoc says. Starting out in this industry is square one for this category because these retailers serve a discerning clientele, Owoc says.
“These are super tough proving grounds where you just won’t find the top energy drinks from the beverage industry because these consumers won’t drink sugary carbonated drinks,” he says.
The company initially began expansion with its Redline Energy line in California, explains Greg Wilson, marketing and beverage facilitator for the company.
“About five years ago Redline recognized the crossover effect our product was having and we wanted consumers to have a choice when it came to energy,” Wilson says. “We offered more than just sugar, carbonation and caffeine and the ultimate-end users wanted a product that gave them exceptional energy without carbonation and sugar as well as no crash. So we started enlisting distributors in California to take our product to the convenience store channel and it took off.”
The results have continued to be successful â€” VPX’s beverages are now available in all 50 states through multiple distributors. In several states, its distributor network is vast, such as California which boasts a network of 15 direct store distributors as well as five in Texas and four in Georgia. Currently, its beverages can be found in many retailers, such as Quik Trip, 7-Eleven, Ralph’s and Chevron outlets. The company also hopes to continue to expand on its distribution, Owoc says.
“In the mainstream beverage market, we find progressive DSD’s that kick butt, and then form strong alliances with these companies,” Owoc says. “In the specialty industry, we have already mastered the market and hope to be No. 1 soon.”
Overall, Owoc credits his “kick butt” employees for helping the company grow and continue its innovation.
“We don’t operate like a traditional company,” Owoc says. “Nothing, and I mean nothing, is allowed to slow the wheels of innovation. If you personally, Coke, Pepsi, DPSG, A-B or anybody comes to a meeting at VPX/Redline, expect to get interrupted to test the taste and/or efficacy of a new product coming out of R&D. Further, don’t be surprised if we ask you to do blood draws or muscle biopsies to test the efficaciousness of a new product.”BI
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