An unexpected beginning
Trained as a chemist and expecting his career to be in the world of science, Elwood Richard’s life took an unexpected turn when he and his brothers inherited the family business, Fearn Soya Foods, after their father Paul Richard died in 1960.
It didn’t take Elwood long to throw himself wholeheartedly into the natural products industry, an area he had been keenly interested in since his early collegiate days as a distance runner. In 1962 Elwood opened his first natural health food store, Health House, and today the suburban Chicago retail chain, now known as The Fruitful Yield, operates stores throughout the Chicagoland area. In 1968 Elwood founded NOW® Foods as a way for his stores to better compete with grocery stores as far as cost, which he did by purchasing healthy foods and supplements in bulk quantities and maintaining a low overhead. This was helpful to Elwood’s own store, but soon other health food stores saw the value in purchasing from NOW as well.
Empowering extraordinary health
With quality and affordability at the forefront, Elwood led NOW through decades of growth, expanding product lines and adding manufacturing facilities and world-class laboratories. He also ensured that the company’s mission of empowering people to lead healthier lives would never be compromised by short-term profit demands. Although value has always been a primary concern in the NOW business model, Elwood never cut corners at the expense of quality. In fact, he spent more on quality control and assurance than he did in any other area of NOW’s business, even sales and marketing.
NOW has sophisticated laboratory facilities, cutting-edge analytical instrumentation, and several Ph.D.s on staff because Elwood was never satisfied with basic levels of quality and research. He was always an advocate for standards in the health industry. As soon as the Good Manufacturing Practices program was established by the NNFA (now the NPA) in 2000, NOW was one of the first companies to apply for certification, receiving an ‘A’ rating, the highest rating a company can achieve. Because of Elwood’s leadership and guidance, NOW has consistently maintained an ‘A’ rating every year since 2000.
A lifelong passion
Elwood retired as CEO in 2005, but he always remained involved in the business and the industry until his passing in April of 2017. He continued to serve as NOW Board of Directors Chair, and as a member of the NOW Advocacy Team, the NOW Strategy Team and the NOW Environmental Team. He was also on the Managing Board of the Natural Health Research Institute (NHRI), an organization he founded that is committed to informing consumers, scientists, the media, policymakers and legislators about scientific evidence on the usefulness and cost-effectiveness of diet, supplements and a healthy lifestyle to improve health and wellness.
Elwood Richard has been honored by the industry he served for so many decades with numerous awards, including induction into the New Hope Hall of Legends, the Natural Products Association (NPA) Lifetime Achievement Award, the Nutrition Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the NNFA Crusader Award, and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) Visionary Award.
Carrying on Elwood’s legacy
To this day NOW’s management team remains committed to upholding the principles NOW was founded upon – providing value and quality in products and services that empower people to lead healthier lives. Elwood never faltered in his belief that natural is better, and that health-promoting natural products should be available and affordable for all, and at NOW we’re proud to continue his legacy of empowering extraordinary health today.