HEALTH AND WELLNESS
and when did the Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing company begin?
It began about 115 years ago when a group of emmigrants in 1898 moved from the Battle Creek Sanitarium to Melbourne, Australia.
They soon discovered that importing foods from the Battle Creek
Sanitarium and then selling them here in Australia was not economically
feasible. After a short time they
began manufacturing the products in Melbourne. That is also how the name Sanitarium came about. The root meaning of “sanitarium”
actually means “learning to stay well” and this is what was behind the recent
name change from Sanitarium Health Food Company to Sanitarium Health and
Wellbeing. It allows us to move
into health and wellness services as well.
it comes to branding, what do you want consumers to think when they hear or see
the name “Sanitarium” and how successful have you been in achieving that?
We want to build
the consumers’ confidence in the products that bear our name. When they pick up
a product off the shelf we want them to know immediately that it is good for
them and their family, and that it is part of a healthy lifestyle.
The root meaning of “sanitarium” actually means “learning to stay well” and this is what was behind the recent name change from Sanitarium Health Food Company to Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing.
We have a very
trusted brand in the Australia-New Zealand marketplace. On a volume basis, we produce more
cereal in Australia and New Zealand than any other company, so we’re number one
from that perspective. And we have
the number one and two cereal brands, in both Australia and New
Zealand—according to independent research. We are the most trusted health food provider in the
region. The annual Sanitarium
community report clearly says, “Sanitarium Foods provide more than just healthy
products. They actually provide
health education and programs to support one’s journey to health and
well-being.” That, of course, relates to our mission and role as an
organization. With our name change and our move to add wellness services under
the Sanitarium brand as well, we now have 120 of our approximately 1400-strong
group of employees focusing just on providing wellness services around
Australia and New Zealand.
your website you say that Sanitarium believes passionately in the potential of
"everyone"—physically, mentally, and emotionally. That’s a big swath! How
do you go about reaching a whole continent and more?
Well, I think it
comes back to our whole philosophy that recognizes the God-given, infinite
value of each individual. If we
are true to our philosophy as an organization; if we are living out our mission
to inspire and resource our community to experience happiness and health; if
we’re true to the task of inspiring our community to live happy and healthy
lives, then how we interact with them, and the products we develop, then the
services we offer, must inherently reflect health and encouragement for them to
take positive steps on their health journey. For more than 30 years we have
been providing health and nutrition resources to the community free of charge.
to have a high sense of “social responsibility.” How is that shown?
We do provide free
breakfasts in low socio-economic areas in Australia and New Zealand. In Australia we partner with the Red
Cross and in New Zealand with other food companies. I believe last year we provided, across both countries,
1.5 million school
breakfasts. This is a fantastic
program. We receive feedback from
local schools and local communities saying that behavior in class is better, academic
performance has increased and even local crime rates are reduced, simply
because those kids are getting a good start to the day.
Twelve months ago,
the Health Food Department of the South Pacific Division bought the global
rights for CHIP—Coronary Health Improvement Program. While keeping the acronym, we will be changing the name to
Complete Health Improvement Program.
This purchase came about as we searched for a community program that we
could undertake which would have an impact on community health by addressing
the problem of lifestyle diseases. Lifestyle medicine is a rapidly emerging
field and one where Adventists should be at the forefront. If you look at the
history of Adventists and our health message, you can see that we have led some
very dramatic positive impacts on community health. Programs such as the CHIP
program will allow us another opportunity to take the leading-edge again. So it is exciting!
Well, I think that the key differential is that we have an absolute focus on health. Most businesses, on the other hand, see their ultimate responsibility as only focusing on getting a return for their shareholders.
makes Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing different from its competitors?
Well, I think that
the key differential is that we have an absolute focus on health. Most
businesses, on the other hand, see their ultimate responsibility as only
focusing on getting a return for their shareholders.
raises an important question: “Is it possible to be a Christian when working in
a competitive, secular business environment?”
Operating in a competitive environment doesn’t mean that you operate
unethically. It doesn’t mean that you operate in a way to harm another
organization. It does mean that
you operate in a manner that is sustainable, efficient and effective. I don’t
think operating consistently within our philosophy and operating profitably in
a competitive environment are mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe that if focus is given to our philosophy
and we are true to that, then profit will follow. Yes, you have to make good
decisions in terms of investing for
future growth. You have to ensure that you are continually challenging
your cost base, looking at opportunities to improve your efficiency, looking at
the effectiveness of your programs and the return on investment they are
obtaining. It is essential to use
good discipline in terms of the way we do that. If we do that in a manner consistent with our philosophical
position, I am confident sustainable profits will follow.
one thing to have a brand with the community-at-large but how do you do this
with 1400 employees when many are not members of the Adventist church?
Probably the most
important thing we do is to ensure that our culture is aligned to the values of
the Church and we recruit in a way that ensures that the culture is
maintained. So we’re very upfront
in our recruitment process about who we are and what we stand for. We offer a non-discriminatory
work environment whilst maintaining our special character.
orient your employees to the mission of Sanitarium?
vision statement says that “we inspire and resource our community to experience
happy, healthy lives.” And our mission says “we share a message of health and
hope with our community.” So what we do both externally and internally is
important. It is a matter of being
authentic or credible. If we don’t
live this internally we can’t be transparent about who we are or what we do. It
is important for us to ensure that our culture and ethos are reflected
appropriately through all our workplaces.
find it to be a disadvantage as a business by honoring the Sabbath?
No. I think overall,
people see this as an advantage. Certainly there is some commercial
disadvantage from choosing to close factories for one day a week in terms of
operating efficiencies and capacities.
However, we believe that by adhering to the concept of rest that we
actually get increased productivity from our staff. We have a very low staff turnover and a high
engagement level in our mission and vision.
It gives us freedom to be the person God intended us to be. In other words, my value comes from God and stands independent of my achievements or others views of me and that is what we try to reflect.
CEO of a successful business in a very competitive marketplace, tell us what
role stewardship plays?
From a spiritual
perspective, personal stewardship is important. I think we should constantly challenge ourselves by looking
at our resources, talents and skills and ask how we are using them and what
benefit they can bring to the broader church organization and the local
community. We have been given
talents to use and to develop for service. From a stewardship perspective, we
must continually challenge ourselves on how effectively we are using the
talents that have been gifted to us for service. Are we unselfishly doing our best to further the work of God
through the use of those talents?
Our value comes from God and God
alone. Some see their whole value
as being found in their job, what they own or with whom they associate but when
we see our real value being found in God it becomes transformational. It gives
us freedom to be the person God intended us to be. In other words, my value comes from God and stands
independent of my achievements or others views of me and that is what we try to