Hi. My name is Alan Bougen. I founded Comvita with Claude Stratford in 1974. Over the next few months I would like to share with you my Comvita journey so far. Happy reading and please pop back soon for the next chapter. Cheers Alan.
Chapter 2: All stings and no honey, in 1975 I called on a fellow bee-loving expert from the Bay of Plenty for help - Claude Stratford. Claude was in the early days of his own small basement business venture centred on honey and medicinal bee products – an adventure he called Comvita®. Claude’s idea of a “retirement hobby”.
In his late sixties Claude seemed the profile of picture-perfect health. Despite the forty year age gap between us, Claude exuded a vibrant youthfulness and enthusiasm for life. He also harboured an entrepreneurial spirit which I instantly connected with. Perhaps it was the daily dose of Manuka honey and bee pollen that he had taken from a young age (which Claude, now 100, still refers to as “nature’s Viagra”) that accounts for his zest for life. Either way - Claude and I shared a deep bond from our first encounter that still exists to this day.
Stemming from his days as a sickly adolescent Claude also had similar views on preventative health and had experienced his own paradigm shift around food, health and wellbeing. To me Claude seemed forty years ahead of his time with his thinking. A potential game changer in a stale healthcare system which wasn’t helping people get better - let alone keep people well. Before long we decided that exploring a business partnership together could be a very fruitful idea. Suddenly my Beekeeping 101 lesson turned into Business 101!
It was the perfect accidental love story –if you can speak about a business in this way.