The making of a marketing genius

  • Business
  • Saturday, 18 Jan 2003

DESPITE his personal wealth and eminent stature among world leaders and captains of industry today, Forever Living Products chairman Rex Maughan has not forgotten his humble beginnings. He grew up on a ranch in Idaho, growing grain, hay and tending to cattle. 

Maughan graduated from Arizona State University and got into accounting and then real estate in Phoenix. As a rookie, he started with Del Webb in 1967 doing leasing and managing. One of his major deals was with Prudential in Denver and he managed to move Greyhound from Chicago to Phoenix. 

Since Del Webb was the only local company listed on the New York Stock Exchange back then, Maughan was constantly invited to meetings for various network-marketing companies. He found the companies to be top-heavy designed to benefit the founders more than the distributors.  

That led Maughan to design his own plan for his organisation – a plan to encourage distributors to stay on and pay them bonuses on retail prices, not wholesale. He believes that making a little profit from each large number of people is better than making a big profit with a small number. 

From the beginning, Maughan was interested in health products and has little inclination for non- consumables such as water purifiers or burglar alarms that were rather popular then. A group of local doctors who were unsuccessfully trying to sell an aloe product got in touch with Maughan.  

Maughan tried it and was convinced. 

The key ingredient of the aloe vera (of the Barbadensis specie) is the gel that oozes out when it is nicked. The gel needs to be stabilised to prevent it from oxidising. It is high in vitamins, minerals and amino acids, including vitamin B-12. Among the many uses is that it stimulates the body to optimum function.  

Part of Maughan’s international marketing strategy is to set up a local company in a foreign country.  

In Malaysia, Tan Chong Guan, whose wife Jenny Chua is in charge of the Sonya beauty-care line, heads the local company Forever Living Products (M) Sdn Bhd.  

Tan overseers Singapore and Brunei as well. Although FLP products have been distributed for about 20 years in Malaysia and are well-known among the Chinese community, the English-speaking segment of the market has been largely untapped.  

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