Tammy Mclver-Gay is builder of brands and teams in the natural products industry. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, she has built and led some of the best sales teams the industry has to offer. She’s had the honor of being a key part of growing several well known natural product brands including Gaia Herbs, Solaray, Heritage Store, KAL, and Enzymatic Therapy.
Tammy is currently Chief Sales Officer at BiOptimizers, where they are on a journey to bring Biologically Optimized Health to people everywhere through their innovative and science based nutritional supplements and digestive aids. She is also the Owner/CEO of Level Up Consulting, LLC.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Tammy McIver-Gay: A veteran of the natural products industry, I have over 20 years experience working for and building some of the best and biggest supplement brands out there – Gaia Herbs, Solaray, KAL, Heritage Store, and Enzymatic Therapy, to name a few. I am currently Chief Sales Officer at BiOptimizers, where we are on a quest to bring Biologically Optimized Health to people everywhere through our highly innovative and science based nutritional supplements and digestive aids.
2020 and 2021 threw a lot of curve balls into business on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past couple years, how can businesses thrive in 2022? What lessons have you learned?
Tammy McIver-Gay: While the past two years have obviously been unusual and disruptive, I don’t believe the basic principles of sound business have actually changed all that much. The most successful companies are those that identify and capitalize on white space opportunities, bring innovation to the marketplace, listen to what their customers are saying, treat their employees well, and run day to day operations in a data driven and financially minded way. Those have always been what sets great companies apart, and those principles remain true in 2022.
Many companies were caught completely flat footed during 2020-21 in regard to supply chain, understanding the changing market and consumer dynamics, and completely misreading trends and market dynamics. Those companies will continue to struggle as they simply are not disciplined to grow and stay profitable in this very competitive time.
The pandemic seems to keep on disrupting the economy, what should businesses focus on in 2022? What advice would you share?
Tammy McIver-Gay: As I mention above, while there are unusual challenges in 2022 around inflation, labor shortages, and ongoing supply chain challenges, companies should be focused on the same things they should have been focused on prior to the pandemic – understanding the market, listening to their customers, utilizing financial and data driven discipline in running daily operations, treating employees well, and strategic planning beyond the next 12 months.
How has the pandemic changed your industry and how have you adapted?
Tammy McIver-Gay: 2020-21 saw tremendous growth in the supplement industry, as millions of new consumers flocked to products to build their immune system in response to COVID-19. Many brands completely misread the long term staying power of those consumers as well as the long term demand of immune items. So many companies made the mistake of shifting significant resources to focusing on immunity and they became over-invested in and dependent on that category.
Those of us that have been in the industry a long time knew this was not a trend that was going to continue on, we knew the supplement industry would eventually level set back to a relative normal state. Unfortunately, many supplement companies did not anticipate this and now find themselves struggling from both a revenue and profitability standpoint. Most supplement brands also came to the realization during the pandemic that their supply chain was not as solid as it needs to be.
What advice do you wish you received when the pandemic started and what do you intend on improving in 2022?
Tammy McIver-Gay: The biggest challenge I faced during the early stages of the pandemic was around human resource issues. At the time I was leading a large field sales force and it was very difficult navigating how the job of our field sales representative changed in those early months. Our field sales team became a phone sales team, and we just were not prepared to make that adjustment for as long as it lasted. It was also very unclear what we could, and couldn’t, ask of our field sales team at a time when there was so much fear and concern about the virus.
Online business surged higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for 2022?
Tammy McIver-Gay: I anticipate online sales will still be strong in 2022, higher than pre-pandemic levels. However, I do see a resurgence in brick and mortar business in my industry, as many consumers have been eager to get back to normal and return to in person shopping experiences. People are craving social interaction, so I believe 2022 will actually see better than expected results in brick and mortar.
How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen?
Tammy McIver-Gay: Eight to ten.
The majority of executives use stories to persuade and communicate in the workplace. Can you share with our readers examples of how you implement that in your business to communicate effectively with your team?
Tammy McIver-Gay: I believe it is critically important to ensure your employees feel connected to the overall purpose and mission of the company. Sure, numbers are important, but companies that lose sight of why they exist in the first place have a hard time keeping employees motivated and engaging; those companies also tend to lose their greatest talent.
I use things like Amazon reviews of our products to remind my team why we do what we do. I also include the team in celebrations of our success, big and small, which helps everyone stay motivated and engaged, and understanding how we are making progress everyday in fulfilling our mission.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as the real challenge right now?
Tammy McIver-Gay: Inflation is the biggest challenge facing business right now. As people struggle to make ends meet, feed their families, pay for housing, and put car in the car, the amount of discretionary income left for everything else is growing smaller with each passing month. Finding ways to attract and retain consumers to your brand during this time of high inflation is the key to staying successful.
In 2022, what are you most interested in learning about? Crypto, NFTs, online marketing, or any other skill sets? Please share your motivations.
Tammy McIver-Gay: I now work for a company that does significant D2C business, which is an area in which I do not have extensive experience. I am learning much already and look forward to continuing to learn more about how to grow a D2C brand.
A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation. 47% of people plan to leave their job during 2022. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. Do you think leaders see the data and think “that’s not me – I’m not that boss they don’t want to work for? What changes do you think need to happen?
Tammy McIver-Gay: I think good leaders completely understand this principle and respond accordingly. On the other hand, bad leaders deflect and blame everything else when talent leaves. Bad leaders are bad because they simply do not understand how to lead and motivate people, and most also do not operate with the humility to understand how their behavior keeps or loses talent.
Honestly, I do not believe most bad leaders can be redeemed. Sadly, there are far too many people in corporate America who are promoted into leadership positions for reasons other than their genuine ability to lead people successfully. Until companies understand how to promote leaders and identify the qualities that make great leaders, many of the statistics above are unlikely to change much.
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Tammy McIver-Gay: If I could see the future, that would take the guesswork out of business decisions made in the here and now. 🙂
What does “success” in 2022 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Tammy McIver-Gay: At BiOptimizers, we are just now beginning to develop new markets for our brands (BiOptimizers and Nootopia) and expand into channels that were historically not explored. Success in 2022 will be gaining some distribution in these new markets and starting to build long term partnerships with new customers. Additionally, we need to build the infrastructure to support these new markets, all of which I hope to successfully complete by the end of the year.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Tammy McIver-Gay for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Tammy McIver-Gay or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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