Over 60 years ago, my grandfather, Hollis Osborne, bought a feed supply business and built it into one of the country’s largest commercial egg producers. He was always concerned about the waste generated in the operations, particularly broken eggshells from the company’s egg breaker or egg products division. In early 2000, he began working on finding value from leftover eggshells that were, at that time, being sent from egg breaking facilities to landfills—hundreds of thousands of tons each year.
This business has been in my family for generations. My grandfather helped guide the business with integrity and lived out the example of treating people the way you want to be treated.
After learning about the joint health benefits derived from the eggshell membrane, in 2003, he and his team developed a fully mechanical system which used heat and vacuum to separate the membrane from the eggshell. This now-patented process is ideal, as it does not require any chemicals, and the only byproduct of the process is steam.
In 2006, Hollis and his family sold the egg side of their business to Land O’ Lakes and continued in pursuit of this new venture, selling eggshell membranes.
ESM Technologies was founded in 2002, intent upon improving people’s quality of life, without negatively impacting the environment. To this end, ESM sought to produce wellness ingredients from a poorly utilized natural resource: eggshells. ESM developed a patented “green” technology to separate the eggshells from the eggshell membrane, allowing them to produce value-added products from both raw materials.
The first stop in this new journey was creating Membrell, which was a finished product company selling the NEM® brand eggshell membrane ingredient in supplement form. After finding quick success within this new industry, Hollis and his family, who had begun to help run his new venture, created ESM Technologies which supplied the NEM® and ESC® ingredients to the nutrition industry including supplement and functional food and beverage manufacturers.
In 2010, ESM became a “joint venture” between its previous owners and Novus International, who had dedicated a sector of their company,Stratum Nutrition®, to also supplying and distributing branded ingredients worldwide.
Together, ESM and Stratum accelerated new product development and the global sales and distribution of their combined product portfolio.
I began my career in the nutrition industry in 2003, when I decided to join my grandfather in the family business. In 2007, I took over the role as President of ESM Technologies. In 2017, I became the President of Stratum Nutrition with the consolidation of Stratum Nutrition and ESM Technologies under the Stratum Nutrition Brand.
Stratum's Market, Mission & MoreWe actively work with finished product brands to produce efficacy driven, full-service ingredient solutions for supplements and functional foods & beverages as well as support those efforts by providing industry and category leading research and formulation as an extension of their own team. Our mission is to deliver ingredients for dietary supplement companies to enhance the health of both humans and pets.
We know that bringing a product to market has its challenges. That’s why we are intentional throughout our process to identify the unique needs, desires, and pain points of everyone we work with in order to guide their product down an on-target and on-time product launch.
Our process can accommodate custom formulations to fit a customer’s product concepts or we can provide a library of pre-developed concepts that fit within multiple condition specific categories to improve quality of life for consumers worldwide.
Stratum Nutrition is a trusted ingredient innovator and supplier to product formulators for human and pet health. Stratum offers a portfolio of research-supported ingredients and technology that stand out in their respective health categories as being progressive, safe, and effective, including NEM® brand eggshell membrane, Eggshell Membrane Collagen Support Complex, LBiome™LactobacillusLB postbiotic, Ahiflower® - a single plant source of optimally balanced omegas, BLIS K12® and BLIS M18® – oral microbiome probiotics, VitaSperse® ingredient delivery technology, NatAxtin™ – Chilean astaxanthin, Curcumin 95, curQplus®, and ESC® brand eggshell calcium. These trusted ingredients are relied upon by consumers internationally.
Lifting the Entire Team UpI learned the importance of mentorship from working alongside my grandfather. He taught me that mentoring is important for leaders because it brings out the best in others. It helps to generate confidence, inspire trust, and it helps to fast-track the team’s development.
One way our company stays focused on mentoring and team success is through the use of a cloud-based project management system. Our directors set time aside monthly to go over each department’s to-dos and goals and the information discussed is then taken into each department. This promotes a greater sense of transparency, improves communication, and keeps everyone focused on their goals. We can see where there are holes or when someone may need a little extra guidance to complete their assigned tasks. We are in the business of building up others and training them to do their best.
When it comes to working with others outside of our company, I have met many people who have helped inform my business decisions. It is easy to find people in this industry who want to talk about business, give advice, and encourage others towards success. This may sound cliché, but we all have the same goal: to make people healthier.
What Sets Stratum Nutrition ApartThere are two ways we set our company apart. The first is this business has been in my family for generations. My grandfather’s leadership style was rooted in a strong set of values and principles. He helped guide the business with integrity and lived out the example of treating people the way you want to be treated. His leadership and passion have continued on into Stratum’s core values that we pass on to our partners.
Our roots remain steadfast and continue to guide our values. We pride ourselves on being proactive and understand our growth relies on the relationships we build. It’s not always easy to do the right thing, but it is always rewarding to do so. Some of our best relationships have come from a mishap that we’ve had to own and make right. Our reputation in this industry follows the footsteps of my grandfather’s values, and we don’t have any plans to veer away from this.
Another way our company stands out is through the efficacy, quality, compliance, story, and demand of our ingredients. We act as an extension of our partners team by supplying unique, sustainable, eco-conscious ingredients with an emphasis on science and claims that create marketability. We pride ourselves on the investments we make into the science behind our ingredient portfolio.
Serving the Greater GoodOver the years, I’ve had the honor of being on the Council of Responsible Nutrition’s (CRN) board. In 2021, the Board of Directors created the Nutrition Access Task Force to help improve access to nutrition and nutrition education for at-risk populations. Many companies are already doing great things by volunteering their time and resources to organizations. I help lead this task force to help educate our industry of the need many have in accessing nutrition, to share stories of the good many companies are doing, and to connect our industry with groups that are doing good works, such as Vitamin Angels, Feeding America, and Convoy of Hope. We have a campaign coming out in September to help encourage the industry to get involved.
What’s New and What’s NextAt the beginning of the year, we announced our new partnership with Maxim Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm. The team at Maxim shares our values and is committed to growing our ability to supply our customers with high quality ingredients. Together, we will capitalize on the strengths of both companies to expand our ingredient portfolio, both organically and inorganically, and to invest in manufacturing to better serve our global customer base (manufacturers and marketers of supplements, foods, and beverages).
Our flagship ingredient, NEM®, is our core ingredient. With a large focus on science, we’ve been able to extend our NEM® portfolio to about 30 countries and we continue to see it grow. It’s great to see how our company started with an idea and how it is now helping consumers globally.
Focusing on the ScienceBack in the day, my grandfather wanted to own the entire supply chain and sell directly to the consumer. However, when he was building the equipment to make the product, the company realized it would take a long time to utilize what’s been put together. This is what ultimately led us into the ingredient side of the business and investing in the research behind it. We started as a single ingredient company, but needed to grow our expertise in this market. Once we started investing more into the science, we realized it was time to expand our ingredient portfolio. Today we have an incredible portfolio of advanced, research-backed dietary supplement ingredients.
Words of WisdomFirst thing is, do the right thing in your own company. That’s important. Right and good never go out of style. Stick to your core values and do not get caught up in the comparison game. Your values will guide you when times are good and when times are tough.
One of the best ways for the industry to be successful is for companies to get involved with at least one of the many associations available. As mentioned earlier, we’re heavily involved in CRN. It’s a place where we can give back and help others. It’s also great to be exposed to a group of people who have a similar mindset and goals.