Like many success stories, Optimum Nutrition grew from humble beginnings. In 1987, athletic brothers Tony and Mike Costello saw a lack of consistent and quality products in the sports-nutrition industry and decided to do something about it. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, Optimum Nutrition, has come a long way.
The evidence is everywhere. Take, for instance, its facilities in Aurora, Ill., which have more than tripled in size since adding two new buildings (a 140,000-square-foot building in 2007 and a 250,000-square-foot building in 2011) near the original 168,000-square-foot space. Or you could measure the company’s growth by looking at its increase in staff: In July 2002, Optimum Nutrition had 227 employees, while today it has 381.
But undoubtedly, the most obvious sign of success is, quite simply, the wide array of products across multiple categories Optimum Nutrition offers. In addition to its perennial best-seller, 100% Whey Gold Standard protein powder, Optimum continues to innovate, frequently adding new products to its line. One of the company’s newest products is Platinum Hydrobuilder, which debuted earlier this year at the 2011 Arnold Fitness Expo. “This is the ultimate all-in-one formula for lean muscle construction,” says Tim Weigard, Optimum’s communications coordinator. “It’s built on a foundation of staged-delivery proteins — from fast hydrolyzed whey protein isolates and hydrolyzed egg albumen to slower micellar casein. It’s enhanced with CreaPep nutrient delivery peptides, BetaPower natural betaine and micronized Creapure creatine. It contains more than 13.5 grams of essential amino acids but only 180 calories per serving.”
Another newcomer, Essential Amino Energy, helps build muscles with essential branched-chain amino acids, intensifies energy with only 10 calories, boosts nitric-oxide production, and improves energy and focus. “This preworkout pick-me-up energy drink can replace your morning coffee and afternoon soda,” says Weigard of the product that debuted a year ago at the 2010 Olympia weekend. “Customers tell us that the new orange flavor, orange cooler, tastes like a certain breakfast drink they remember from their childhood.”
Athletes who think green will be happy to know that parent company Glanbia, the international cheese and nutritional ingredients group to which the Costello brothers sold Optimum Nutrition in 2008, employs eco-friendly business practices by taking the byproducts of its dairy business (whey protein) and using it in its supplements. “Years ago, farmers used to dump whey in their fields as leftover waste from the process of cheese making,” Weigard says. “These days, whey is considered a valuable commodity in the sports-nutrition marketplace. So, essentially, we refine the ‘waste’ into very desirable raw ingredients, including whey peptides and whey protein isolates.”
When you look at the past 25 years at Optimum Nutrition, it’s easy to see why Weigard says he only sees good things ahead for the next 25. “People have certain expectations when they buy our products, and we aim to meet them,” Weigard says. “You can be confident that from the moment a product is conceived to the moment it leaves our facility, we put only the best into Optimum Nutrition so you only put the best into your body.”