Anybody can start a company. It takes passion, determination and an unbridled love of people, however, to make it successful. That’s what sets Sun Chlorella USA apart. For 30 years, the firm has invested in both employees and chlorella; that faith has paid off in spades. With offices all over the globe and several best-selling products, Sun Chlorella USA is a paragon in the superfood industry.
One Man and a Dream
Like many great success stories, Sun Chlorella’s tale has humble beginnings. Following the end of World War II in Japan, Mr. Hideo Nakayama became severely ill. It wasn’t until a friend suggested taking chlorella—a strain of green, fresh water algae—that Nakayama recovered. From that point on, he championed the benefits of chlorella and dedicated his life to telling others about the superfood.
In 1969, the 54-year-old Nakayama and his wife launched Heian Chlorella Jeffcy Co., Ltd., in Kyoto, Japan, where the couple sold chlorella products and supplies from a small store in town. Thanks to their business-savvy nature, the company was wildly successful, rising to the top of the health food industry in Japan.
A Whole New World
Such unprecedented success would be enough for most people, but not Nakayama. It was the founder’s mission to spread the word about chlorella. So in 1982, Nakayama prepared his team to conquer the toughest market of all: the United States.
The decision to establish Sun Chlorella California Inc. was not without its challenges. “While American people have embraced chlorella nutrition,” says Hideo Nakayama’s grandson and president of the U.S. branch Futoshi Nakayama, “many still have not even heard about this remarkable superfood. But in Japan, chlorella is very well known—much like vitamin C is here in the Untied States.”
Despite these obstacles, Hideo Nakayama forged ahead with his plan, hiring George Higashida as the Torrance, CA-based company’s first president. The duo was a hit in the medical and health food communities.
“After months of study my grandfather directed Mr. Higashida to go out by foot and speak to doctors about this ‘gem of the orient– chlorella,’” says President Nakayama. “Mr. Higashida had very broken English, but the doctors embraced what he said about chlorella’s benefits.” In fact, one physician, the late Bernard Jensen, Ph.D., went so far as to recommend the superfood to his patients.
The company was renamed Sun Chlorella USA in 2000. Since then, Sun Chlorella has launched several corporate offices all over the world including ones in Europe and Asia. Aside from Japan, however, the most successful branch is Sun Chlorella USA. “Sun Chlorella is the leading chlorella in the U.S. market,” says President Nakayama. “I think it’s due to the quality and digestibility of the product, the good manufacturing process that we follow and the important way we serve our customers.”
The Customer Is King
Sun Chlorella USA’s unparalleled desire to help customers is a unique, yet refreshing trait in the cutthroat corporate world. “We take what we learn from our customers and based on what they ask for, try to develop important products,” says President Nakayama.
One such product—Rejuv-A-Wafers—contains chlorella for dogs and cats. An animal sanctuary in Santa Clarita, CA fed the wafers to their charges and experienced wonderful results. It is innovation like this that keeps the company vibrant. Sun Chlorella is not content with simply churning out the same old products. Items like Sun Chlorella Cream and the recently launched immunity shot Well Well Wow! continue to raise the bar in the chlorella market.
Perhaps the most innovative focus at Sun Chlorella is on the happiness of its workers. The company runs its day-to-day operations—including employee relations—with a list of standards: “Raising the Standard,” “People are the Key,” “Work with Integrity,” “Strive for Excellence” and “Set Goals Higher.”
“People are everything to our business,” explains President Nakayama. “We believe that if we treat our employees well, they in turn, will treat our customers well.” On its Web site, Sun Chlorella talks about treating people with respect and valuing diversity. This is a refreshing philosophy in today’s money-driven business landscape.
From its inception, Sun Chlorella has always been first and foremost about helping people, and President Nakayama emphasizes that point. “Our behaviors and attitudes are very important to me and the executive officer team and this resonates throughout our corporation,” he states. “The result is a level of transparency within the entire organization which fosters growth of our brand and corporation.”
|Sun Chlorella product line|
Thirty years strong, Sun Chlorella USA has earned the right to dole out advice. “For a company to make sustainable growth,” says President Nakayama, “there must be a respect for each stakeholder, such as customers, business partners, shareholders, employees and the society.”
He stresses that marketing high-quality products is no longer enough to be successful. “[Shoppers] are now looking for added value to the products, therefore we must continuously strive to further develop corporate values and differentiate ourselves from competitors.”
Sun Chlorella might be three decades old, but according to Nakayama, the company shows no signs of stopping. He states, “Our ultimate goal is to see a box of Sun Chlorella A in every single household in the United States.”
That’s a pretty lofty goal for most companies, but the dreamers behind Sun Chlorella can make it happen. Congratulations, and here’s to 30 more years of health and happiness! WF
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, June 2013