Guy Michaud had been experiencing knee pain to the point where he had to wear orthodics to participate in the sports he loved. After a friend told the 35-year-old about collagen and its benefits, it not only changed his ability to participate in sports, it also changed the course of his career.
Collagen, he learned, is one of the most important proteins in the human body. It is present in the skin, but also in bones, ligaments, tendons. And as humans age, their bodies begin to produce less collagen, and when that happens near joints, it can cause pain in some people.
“My father was skeptical about collagen’s benefits, but two weeks after taking this product, he never wore orthotics again,” says Frédérick Michaud, who is now vice-president of Genacol International.
A quick convert to collagen’s benefits for joint pain and a salesman by trade, he decided to create his own formula of collagen, which he called Genacol, in 2000. A company by the same name was born that year in Blainville, Qué.
“We certainly didn’t invent collagen and we’re not the first to promote it, but we did enhanced the raw material with some amino acids that we consider the most important for the joints,” Frédérick says, and that’s what distinguishes their product in a field that includes others. “My dad was a salesman and very street smart and he saw an opportunity.”
Now the company works with scientists to continue to improve its current suite of products, which it ships to 38 countries on five continents, including North America, South America, Africa, Europe and Asia.
Genacol has done clinical studies on its all-natural product that show that it shows positive effects in 51.6 per cent of people who try it. And, it has grown almost every year since it launched in 2000, largely due to a slow and steady approach, and substantial investments in marketing.
Genacol reinvests in growth
“My father believed in growing the company slowly,” Frederick says. “He always re-invested in the company, especially in marketing. He believed that every marketing dollar would bring back good returns. A lot of companies are afraid to invest in marketing but for us, the average of what we’re spending is about 25 per cent of sales.”
When they launched the company, there wasn’t a lot of regulation around natural products, but in 2005 and again in 2010, Health Canada introduced new regulations. One meant they had to get a natural product number and in doing so, had to prove that their product was safe and that the claim it makes is scientifically proven, which they’ve done through two clinical studies.
“For the first eight years, we only had one product, Genacol Original Formula,” Frédérick says. “In 2008, we decided to create a new product. Then, after that, we realized that even though we can be proud of having such good numbers, at some point, you need innovation and novelty, because customers want to try new things.” If you’re a company with a single product that doesn’t evolve, you’ll lose your customers.”
Today, the 25-person company sells more than 1 million bottles of seven different products each year. A quarter of its sales are through distributors on the ground, who then sell it in their respective countries.
“We do marketing to keep a similar brand around the world, but mostly we supply them with good-quality product and the best contacts we can. They do the rest of the work,” Frédérick says.
Genacol protects their exports
One of the challenges the company had was insuring its shipments worldwide, and that’s when it knocked on the door of Export Development Canada (EDC).
“Thanks to EDC, we were able to confirm whether some of our new distributors are worth doing business with,” he says. “It’s hard for me to go to China and confirm that this company has a good solid financial situation. For insurance purposes, we sent files to EDC and they confirmed that we could insure them for $100,000. That way, we know and can at least make sure we get paid.”
EDC was able to provide the company with a new online credit insurance product, Trade Protect, which allows a company to customize its shipment insurance based on where it’s sending and it can do it in a matter of minutes because the system is entirely online.
“Genacol has orders all over the world, which leads to insurance challenges,” says EDC account manager Ihab Tadros. “EDC’s trade protection coverage is exactly what this company needed.”
Looking to Increase Your International Sales? 5 Ways Trade Protect Can Help
If your company exports, then using credit insurance such as Trade Protect can protect your bottom line if you don’t get paid for your foreign receivables. It can also help your business succeed in other ways:
- Pursue new customers with confidence With secured receivables, you have more funds and confidence to pursue new business.
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- Protect even small contracts cost-effectively Trade Protect credit insurance is designed for Canadian companies who want to insure a small number of foreign customers (five or less) against the risk of not getting paid. It’s possible to insure as little as $5,000 for less for $30, or amounts up to $500,000.
- Win more deals by offering attractive terms When backed by Trade Protect, you may be able to offer more open payment terms to your customer, helping to win more contracts.
- Free up cash flow When your bank knows you’ll get paid for a U.S. or international contract secured by Trade Protect, it may have more confidence to provide you with additional cash.
To learn more about Trade Protect, view What is Trade Protect.