As a Brisbane-based contract manufacturer of health and fitness supplements, Vision Made Co claims a win for local manufacturing with every new customer it secures.
In an industry that once was notoriously US-centric, the company’s co-founder Joshua Spurway has found attitudes changing in the supplements market as Australian manufacturers gain a firmer foothold through a reputation for quality output.
“In the past, the prevailing attitude was you could only get good sports supplements from America,” says Spurway, who started his career in the fitness industry aged 19. “But when I started learning about what was involved, I knew we could do it better here in Australia.”
Now, Vision Made Co is manufacturing sporting supplements at its Brisbane facility for three US companies to meet demand for their Australian distribution networks.
Vision Made Co was founded early last year by Myrrah Balasabas and Spurway, who were named 2022 winners of the Manufacturing, Wholesale & Distribution category in the Brisbane Young Entrepreneur Awards.
The business has posted rapid revenue growth over the past year after securing a raft of new clients from Australia and the US. Revenue increased eightfold in FY22, and it is expected to almost double again this financial year, led by a strategy that Spurway says will focus on established companies looking to bring their product ranges in house.
The business is aiming to expand its manufacturing offering to an even broader market by becoming the preferred manufacturer for major brands in the nutraceutical space. Vision Made Co is hoping the next step, registration from the Therapeutic Goods Administration which it will seek next year, will take it a step closer to that goal.
“Our aim is to keep up with where the supplements industry is going, while also opening doors to new markets through TGA registration which will allow us to manufacture products in pill and capsule forms,” says Spurway.
“Many major companies are starting to use contract manufacturers like us because they can’t keep up with their own manufacturing. These are some of the opportunities we want to explore.”
When Vision Made Co opened its doors in January 2021, it did so with a single client. That number has since grown to 23 with Spurway pursuing opportunities in the US for some time.
“I went out on a limb with these companies and shipped samples to them of what we can do, and that really paid off,” he says.
“We’re now a licenced manufacturer to produce their brands here. They have basically cut out their international shipping costs by replicating their products at our Brisbane facility and then forwarding them directly to their local distributors here.”
Shipping delays during the pandemic were another factor driving growth for Vision Made Co.
“Many of our customers were buying from America, bringing entire shipping containers at a time, but with the extended lead times in shipping and manufacturing, many were waiting 30 weeks for an order,” says Spurway.
“Our turnaround time for a new order is 12 weeks and for a repeat order it can be as fast as six to eight weeks.
“Bringing that manufacturing back to Australia and showing those local brands that you don’t have to go overseas, that we can make it and sell it entirely in Australia, is a big focus for me.”
Vision Made Co has a 4,000sqm production facility at Brendale on Brisbane’s northside which the company plans to upgrade next year. The works will be funded through a planned capital raise expected to occur in early 2023.
“That will get us to the next level and help support the growth we already have coming on,” says Spurway.
“The plans are to upgrade our fit-out, buy new machinery and facilitate warehousing of raw materials on site. Once we have the new fitout done, we will be seeking TGA registration which will allow us to make nutraceuticals in tablet and capsules as well as herbal extracts in powder form. That is what we are targeting next year.”
Vision Made Co currently produces a diverse range of products for customers, from meal replacement powders for weight loss or post-surgery patients who can’t eat solids.
“We make everything from brownie mixes and ready-to-bake components, all the way to protein powders, pre-workouts, aminos and gut health formulas. The list is endless. Anything you can think of in a powdered form we can make.”
Vision Made Co has grown its workforce to 53, including a highly active new product development (NPD) team.
“Our NPD team is constantly researching new ingredients and new ways of making products,” says Spurway. “For example, if you came to me with an idea but didn’t have the ingredients for it, for example a meal replacement, and all you wanted was a low sugar, high protein formula, we would take the brief and develop a product that meets your requirements.”
Spurway started his entrepreneurial journey aged 19, leveraging off his professional kickboxing career to sell training supplements.
He worked for meal delivery service Youfoodz as a business development manager when it was a fledgling company, seeing the business grow from a staff of 20 to 1,000.
“I fell in love with the product side of the business – finding new opportunities, launching products and getting them to market,” says Spurway.
After taking on a role with a supplements manufacturer after Youfoodz, Spurway stepped out on his own as a founding partner of Black Label Blending in 2019. Two years later, he and Balasabas – a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice graduate - partnered in their own journey to create Vision Made Co.
“Myrrah’s love for the fitness industry aligned with mine as we met at our local gym and we are now engaged to get married,” says Spurway.
“Since starting Vision Made Co with me, she has been the rock of the company wearing multiple hats and leading finance, HR and culture. She is the true meaning of an entrepreneur, learning and adapting as we grow.”
Spurway has maintained his long-term relationship with Youfoodz founder Lance Giles who continues to mentor the young entrepreneurs.
Vision Made Co’s ultimate goal is to establish export channels for its white-label products.
“We could export now, but we’ve been literally trying to keep up with the work we currently have on the go,” says Spurway.
“Exports and the TGA accreditation will be the main focus next year, because we really want to drive our Australian made goods into South-East Asia and potentially India.
“India is the fastest growing economy at the moment and the quality of Australian products is what locals are looking for. The kangaroo symbol on goods is highly valued in these regions.”
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