Arthur Rudolph passed away on July 24 at the age of 85 after a brief illness. “The nutritional supplement industry just lost its pioneer,” states Harvey Kamil, vice chairman of NBTY, Inc.

Rudolph began a multi-generation leadership in the natural products industry, and his effect on the industry as a whole was far reaching. Says Kamil, “As a true visionary, he was instrumental in bringing nutritional supplements to the mass market. He saw an emerging market before it was in vogue.”

Rudolph founded Arco Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 1960, serving as its CEO and chairman. He later founded NBTY Inc. as a subsidiary in 1971 under the name Nature’s Bounty, Inc. Kamil notes the significance of this timing, as vitamins were not mainstream at that point.

His son, Scott Rudolph, founded U.S. Nutrition Co., Inc. in 1977, which was purchased by Nature’s Bounty in 1986. At that time, Scott succeeded his father as president of Nature’s Bounty.

Under the leadership of the Rudolphs, the company grew by leaps and bounds through acquisitions, collaborations and its own innovation, becoming the largest supplement manufacturer in the country by 1992. In 1995, the firm became NBTY, Inc. Says Kamil, “Leveraging his motto of ‘never fooling the customer,’ Arthur set the foundation for the development of a company that became the largest nutritional supplement manufacturer and marketer in the United States.”

But Rudolph’s and NBTY’s story is more than just size and might. Kamil credits Rudolph with helping to bring supplements to the forefront of consumers’ understanding of “health.” Says Kamil, “Because of his marketing ability and expertise, vitamins are now an essential part of almost everyone’s daily routine.”

Rudolph was clearly a special person outside the workplace. He was known as a community leader and had a larger-than-life personality, says Kamil, who adds, “He was loved and respected by all who knew him. NBTY associates around the globe mourn his passing, as he will be deeply missed.”


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, September 2013 (online 7/29/13)

Editor's Note: This story will be updated with additional memories about Mr. Rudolph as comments are collected.