FLIGHT DEPT PROFILE
DrVita builds sales with new Phenom 300
Vitamin company's latest Embraer bizjet replaces earlier Phenom 100 and is managed by Clay Lacy.
By Mike Potts
Pro Pilot SW Associate Editor
DrVita flight dept members at VGT (North Las Vegas NV). (L–R) Owner & CEO Wayne Gorsek, VP Mfg Eiger Björnstad, VP Supply Chain Bobby Brar, Phenom 300 Capt Dean Sibley, Co-Captain Ismar Avdic and VGT Line Tech & Sales Professional Robert Simpson.
In 1994 Wayne Gorsek started a company to make and sell vitamins. It was both a happy and a sad time for him—happy because of the excitement of launching his new business, but sad because it meant he had to give up his airplane—a Cessna 310Q.
"When I founded the company, I realized I would be living on minimal income for many years until I could grow the business and make it profitable," he recalls, "so I had to sell the 310. I cried when it flew away, but I vowed I would earn enough one day to own and fly a new jet. I was making a short-term sacrifice to achieve long-term gain."
Gorsek's sacrifice paid off. His company, Vitacost, became wildly successful—it made Inc magazine's list of 500 most successful companies for 5 years running—and after taking it public in 2009 he bought an Embraer Phenom 100.
Today Gorsek has come full circle. He recently started another vitamin company, called DrVita, only this time, instead of selling his airplane, Gorsek has traded the Phenom 100 on a new Phenom 300 and is using it to help build his new business.
Gorsek loves to fly and performs the PIC role on most flights, always with another rated Phenom 300 pilot in the right seat. Gorsek developed an early interest in aviation on visits to BLV (Scott AFB, Belleville IL) near where he grew up. His grandfather worked there as a civilian contractor. Gorsek was raised by his grandparents, Fred and Harriet Gorsek, who also adopted him.
With the goal of becoming a pilot, Gorsek joined the Civil Air Patrol while in high school, planning on an ROTC track to a possible Air Force career. A 1-week encampment simulating basic training convinced him, however, that he was not temperamentally suited to military life, and he postponed his flying ambitions for a few years until he could afford civilian flight training.
Owner & CEO Wayne Gorsek (L) and Capt Dean Sibley at the controls of DrVita's Phenom 300. Sibley is employed by Clay Lacy Aviation, which manages the aircraft for DrVita.
In the early 1990s he earned a private license and a multiengine rating and bought a Rockwell Commander 112. Within a year he had upgraded to the Cessna 310, which lasted until he launched his first vitamin business.
Gorsek's grandparents also played a role in his interest in vitamins. "During my teen years they were in their 70s and their health was starting to decline pretty rapidly," he recalls. "Based on what I'd seen on television shows like Emergency, I thought that doctors, hospitals and drugs were truly the solution and would cure them, but I rapidly found out that was television and not real life.
I'd take them to doctor after doctor, drug after drug, surgery after surgery and test after test, but there was nothing cured. It was just a band-aid temporary approach, and my grandparents just kept getting worse. I thought, 'There's some magical cure that the doctors are missing, and I'm going to go into the medical school library and figure it out.'
First I figured out how horrible their diseases were—I studied Parkinson's, diabetes, arthritis and heart failure—but I also found there were no cures from a pharmaceutical prospective.
"But I came across medical journal studies and books written by doctors indicating that diet, supplements and exercise could actually prevent or reverse many of the chronic degenerative diseases of aging."
Eager to test his new-found information, Gorsek focused on his grandmother's ailments, which included Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. In addition, she was taking "a lot of drugs, was depressed and had lost the will to live." Based on his studies, Gorsek assembled an array of supplements and began doing her grocery shopping to provide a healthier diet.
"It worked," he says. "It totally reversed the diabetes and hypertension. She got off the drugs, her energy level and mood soared and she was happy again. It was amazing."
But, as sometimes happens, his grandmother rebelled against the treatment.
"She got stubborn and said, 'I don't want to take all those pills. I want to eat what I want to eat.' And guess what? Her blood sugar went back up, blood pressure back up, she was back on the drugs and depressed with low energy again. So I know that it works. I've seen the medical literature proving it works and I've seen it in real life," he says.
With that realization and the knowledge he had gained, Gorsek developed the idea for his first vitamin business. "Most people aren't going to figure this out for themselves," he says. "They aren't going to take the time to read and research all this, figure it all, go out and buy 8 or 120 different supplements and [put everything together]. So I started my prior company based on a good multivitamin."
Manufacturing VP Eiger Björnstad is responsible for making the products DrVita sells. The company says making its own vitamins is a key factor in maintaining consistency and ensuring high product quality.
Eventually, Gorsek and his associates went on to formulate more than 900 products, all sold on the Internet. After taking the company public Gorsek sold most of his shares, and the new private equity firm in control decided they no longer wanted Gorsek's services. Now he is seeking to exceed his former success with DrVita.
He is joined by 2 of his former associates from the old company—VP of Manufacturing Eiger Björnstad (his father was a climber and named him for the mountain) and VP of Supply Chain Bobby Brar. Both are critical to DrVita's manufacturing operations, which Gorsek says is a critical element in ensuring product quality in the vitamin business.
Better capitalized than in his first effort, Gorsek is able to use his aircraft to help build DrVita. "With the Phenom, we can be pretty much anywhere in America within 4–5 hrs, and sometimes much quicker," he says. "With a 2000-mile range and airliner speed, it's amazing how quickly I can deploy myself and up to 6 employees."