Lee Wright: The Vitamin Shoppe CEO Thrives in the Shoppe

Lee Wright: The Vitamin Shoppe CEO Thrives in the Shoppe

The Vitamin Shoppe

Our coverage of the 2024 Vitamin Shoppe Brand Summit continues, following up with special guest Jocko Willink on episode #132.

To get a better background on what the Brand Summit is all about, and the direction of The Vitamin Shoppe itself, we went straight to the source — the CEO himself:

A Quick Discussion with Lee Wright, The Vitamin Shoppe CEO

Lee Wright The Vitamin Shoppe CEO on the PricePlow Podcast

Lee Wright, CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe, quickly jumps on the PricePlow Podcast to explain the Vitamin Shoppe Brand Summit and his visits to The Shoppe

Lee Wright, CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe, has very quickly gained a tremendous amount of respect both within the company and in the dietary supplement industry at large. Reason being, he leads from the front and practices what he preaches.

Prior to this podcast, Lee, who’s normally a modest and private man, gave a speech to the company detailing his own weight loss journey, and how The Vitamin Shoppe’s own products and employees have given him an edge.

There may not be another major retail CEO who’s visited more stores in such a short amount of time, and he’s been able to figure out what the stores really need. A big part of it is continued education and training.

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Video: Lee Wright, The Vitamin Shoppe CEO

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Detailed Show Notes

  • 0:00 – Introductions

    Lee Wright

    Lee Wright started as The Vitamin Shoppe’s Interim CEO in January 2023, formally becoming the full-time CEO in May 2023

    This is PricePlow Nation’s first time meeting Lee Wright, who’s had a long career in private equity and private banking, and then running organizations in numerous industries.

    The original plan was for him to serve as the interim CEO of The Vitamin Shoppe starting in January 2023, but then he fell in love with the company, the mission, and the people. Given the opportunity to become full-time CEO, he jumped at it.

    The Vitamin Shoppe is very well-trusted in the health and wellness industry, and it drew Lee into the business.

  • 1:30 – The Vitamin Shoppe Brand Summit

    The Vitamin Shoppe Brand Summit is held every other year, and Lee considers it their “Super Bowl”. They bring in their health enthusiasts and store managers from the field with the corporate teams, 3rd-party brand partners, international licensees, and other media partners. This is an opportunity to both re-connect, re-energize, and get educated.

    Lee lists The Vitamin Shoppe’s three brand:

    1. Expertise
    2. Innovation
    3. Quality

    This means that the health enthusiasts must be able to knowledgeably explain their innovative new products, and training at The Brand Summit enables that.

  • 2:30 – Lessons Learned from Lee’s Trips to Stores

    The Vitamin Shoppe Quality Promise

    Lee visits a lot of stores, engaging with their Health Enthusiasts and store managers on a regular basis. He jokes that part of this was selfish, as he was trying to educate himself on his own health and wellness journey (which he’s doing tremendously with).

    But he’s most interested in what seeing what the customers see, to understand what the front-line employees are seeing. He wants to make sure that all of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Health Enthusiasts are getting what they need, as well as the customers. He doesn’t just want to hear things from the corporate offices — he wants to see it for himself.

    Lee leads by example, not by spreadsheet — this much is very clear.

    He’s also been able to see trends up-and-coming firsthand. Personally working with both Health Enthusiasts and customers enables him to understand what education is needed and where things are hading.

  • 6:15 – Is it Just “Widgets” in this Industry?

    We’ve had other businessmen on the podcast state that “it’s just widgets” in this industry — Lee no longer agrees. He originally came into the industry a bit skeptical, but he fell in love by doing his own personal research, and realized how beneficial these products are. It’s a specialty industry, and it’s very unique.

    With it, Lee has increased his health, including better exercise and energy, and he now definitely believes that it’s much more than just widgets.

  • 7:15 – Regulatory Concerns: Will Lee be Fighting in Washington DC?

    NPA Washington DC Fly-In Day 2024

    The NPA (Natural Products Association) has announced their annual Washington DC Fly-In Day for 2024: May 22! Join us and support the dietary supplement industry.

    Lee has a lot to say about the way the dietary supplement industry is handled from a regulatory standpoint. The Vitamin Shoppe is heavily vested in the New York legislation that restricts dietary supplement purchases.

    Lee’s a strong believer that everyone should have access to nutritional supplements. He wants to protect children and combat bad actors along with us, but it’s not right to limit access to nutrition for everyone else. Many of the things that we’re seeing are not for the consumer good.

    Because of this, Lee will be taking a leading role in trips such as NPA’s Fly-In Day. He’s very passionate about this.

    Note: The Vitamin Shoppe is now named as an example of a company that could be harmed by the law in the NPA’s lawsuit against New York.

  • 9:00 – Learning the Brands and Getting into the Supplement Industry

    Lee’s a relationship person, and strives for win-win situations where everyone can win together. This requires a high level of communication. Lee mentions the company’s President Muriel Gonzalez and Jack Gayton, who work closely with brands and their placement, but Lee knows he has to have a part in this exceedingly-important process as well.

    Lee loves brands that bring innovation and exclusivity — even in terms of flavors — to The Vitamin Shoppe. Lee wants to work with brands that can grow and grow properly. When these brands bring in new consumers, he needs to ensure to those brands that the store’s employees are educated on the products. Dealing with The Vitamin Shoppe is not just a one-way transaction.

  • 12:00 – In-House Brand Development

    The Vitamin Shoppe’s in-house brand, especially the BodyTech Elite series from BodyTech, has put out some great products. PricePlow has covered “basics” like BodyTech Elite Creatine + HMB but also advanced formulas like the Altered Physique fat burner, and the Altered Savage Pre-Workout has quite a novel approach to it. Is Lee getting involved in any of this?

    Lee Wright The Vitamin Shoppe CEO on the PricePlow Podcast

    The answer is no, he prefers to let the smart people do their thing (those smart people will be on a future PricePlow Podcast episode). He tells them, “It’s your choice, but you’ve got to live with your choice.”

    Altered Savage, for instance, has a lot of cutting-edge ingredients, but TVS makes sure they’re compliant. But beyond their own brands, they still only work with high-quality, professional brands.

  • 14:00 – Closing out

    Lee’s goal is to get through The Brand Summit, but there are some new trends they’re keeping their eyes on. You’ll hear more about these in the next episode with the company’s employees.

Show Notes to be continued…

Where to Find Lee Wright and The Vitamin Shoppe

Thanks again to Lee for your valuable time, especially with all of the other employees in town. We’re looking forward to the next meeting.

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