Twenty-five years ago, my father acquired WholeFoods Magazine and made the courageous leap to open a company (WFC, Inc.) to publish it. It blows me away to think about all the changes that have ensued since then, not the least of which being technological changes. My dad started publishing the magazine in 1984 before the advent of e-mail and cell phones—hard for some of you to fathom, I know. Back in these WholeFoods years, we typeset our pages and used index cards to put together our annual directory. Today’s hi-tech advances let us work much faster; we can review digital proofs of the magazine almost instantaneously and can share breaking news with a simple Web post. We’ve come along way since 1984, of which I have been officially working for WholeFoods about (gulp) 18. It’s all right…you can tell me I don’t look it. It must be all the natural products I use.
On a personal level, these past years have brought many changes. Two years ago, my invincible father, Howard Wainer, had a heart attack and needed triple bypass surgery. He had an amazing recovery, and realized a few things in the duration: the man whose hobby was work decided to semi-retire. He still comes to the office twice a week and is very involved with our industry and WholeFoods Magazine. At that time, my mother, circulation director, also semi-retired. Then, we lost our long-time receptionist and friend, Barbara Fortunato, to cancer. Last, our long-standing and well-respected editor, Alan Richman decided to retire. I never thought anyone could replace him and then, lo and behold, Kaylynn Chiarello-Ebner stepped into our offices. She has filled his shoes very nicely and has brought many new ideas and changes to WholeFoods Magazine such as helping with the redesign launched this month. She has become an intrinsic part of our WholeFoods family.
Not only have there been major changes here at WFC, but also our industry has faced many new challenges. First, the mass market has become a major force in our industry. Wal-Mart has taken over everything else, so why not supplements and organic, too? And, no matter how hard we try to fend it off, negative publicity always surrounds us. It is incomprehensible how the press can find something wrong with vitamin C, vitamin E and other commodities that we have been using for years. We, along with what was the Dietary Supplements Education Alliance and now part of the Natural Products Foundation (NPF), have tried to fight it. Speaking of the NPF, the National Natural Foods Association—an association we knew and loved for years—is now the Natural Products Association, marking another major change to encompass the growth of the industry.
Over the years, acquisitions have continued with many of the big companies continuing to grow. This trend has hit our retail industry, as a lot of our smaller stores have disappeared leaving larger stores remaining. I find that we are one of the few family-owned companies left in the industry, so I support those like us who continue to be strong in a world that makes it hard for the little guy to succeed. In these tough economic times, it is especially important that we continue to do our best to offer what nobody else can: health without side effects. So, let’s remain steadfast in our beliefs and continue to follow our missions.
Looking forward, I believe we are entering interesting times. First, all manufacturers must be GMP compliant by the end of 2010, which hopefully, can bolster additional confidence in our industry. And in the coming years, we can look forward to continued positive research on vitamin D, fish oil and folic acid, which the mainstream media continues to cover (and say good things about) and others. We can also continue to be inspired by the charities rooted in our industry like Vitamin Angels and Nourish America. We are very proud to support you and what you stand for.
I look forward to future changes in the industry, especially if we can face them together. I congratulate our past and present staff for 25 successful years of informing and educating and I look forward to many more. I share our congratulations with the many other companies celebrating anniversaries in 2009 such as Palko Distributing, derma e Natural Bodycare, World Organics, Burt’s Bees, Health Food Distributors, Inc., Superior Trading, Best Formulations, Trace Minerals Research and others.
Thank you for all your support.
Heather Wainer, Publisher
Published in WholeFoods Magazine, February 2009