From Bees to Business

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 3:  Less than a year later at the end of 1976 I packed my bags and along with my new wife Lynda, left the hives of Great Barrier Island on a shared mission with Claude to build Comvita® into something really special.  I was young and energetic.  Claude was older and wiser.  But essentially our visions were the same.  We both had a dream of creating great natural health products to help people in their daily lives using our knowledge of health and nutrition. It was then that we began to walk the health-talk so to speak and embark on the journey of transforming the fledgling Comvita® into the company it is today.

Comvita® started out tiny, based in the small town of Te Puke, inthe North Island’s Bay of Plenty, offering a small range of products from skin care to honey and bee pollen – a brilliant nutritional health product that Claude had pioneered some years before. We branched out from there.

It was hard going.  It was the 70’s.  We were in the territory of hippies and the alternative lifestyle movement.  We were definitely on the fringe.  Our products had great appeal to the avant-gardehealth alternative, but most people weren’t so convinced.  We had a lot of ideas and some great products but we were pretty quirky.  The market just wasn’t ready for some of the stuff we were doing, so it took us a while to get going.  But slowly and surely we developed a loyal following – a small one, but a following nevertheless!

By the end of 1989 we had clocked up our first million dollar sales year.  Lynda and I had become insanely busy juggling our time between the constant demands of a growing business and raising our four active children.  The need for international travel came with the territory and at times these trips meant many weeks away overseas.  To say life was busy would be a gross understatement.  But somehow we survived!

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