Ecotrend Ecologics Ltd.: Uniting Customers and Suppliers with a Healing Touch

John Harrison founded Ecotrend Ecologics Ltd. (Ecotrend) in 1987, but his family’s legacy in the import-export business stretches back four generations to 1894. John’s great-grandfather established the first foreign-owned import-export companies in Japan and imported the first automobile to that country for a wealthy Japanese businessman in 1902. That company is still in operation, but Ecotrend sets itself apart by specializing in holistic, non-toxic and natural products found in retail health stores and in the practices of alternative healthcare specialists. Every aspect of the company is run with paramount concern for the wellbeing of each client, each employee and the planet.
“Well, 2012 is actually our 25-year anniversary,” says John, president and CEO of Ecotrend. “The company has evolved a great deal during that time, but we still do business the way my grandfather did: on a handshake.”
The company started like many successful enterprises: with just one man, one vision and great ambition. Ecotrend began as an importer and exporter of products between Mexico and Canada, and within a few months John picked up his first brand to represent in Canada, NutriBiotic.
NutriBiotic had only been formed three years earlier to produce a variety of high-quality, high-Vitamin C dosage products as popularized by the work of two-time Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling, Ph.D. Ecotrend continues to represent NutriBiotic products 25 years later, as well as SierraSil mineral supplements.
“SierraSil is my biggest client and the product has taken over the joint pain category in the Canadian natural health sector in the past several years,” admits John. “We have a fantastic relationship with them and it’s all been done on a handshake.”
Along the way, the company also made way for the next generation of natural healthcare products. Included in the Ecotrend portfolio is Holy Crap. Holy Crap is the maker of natural and organic cereal products formulated for those with food allergies, though the company refuses to compromise on taste.
Additionally, Ecotrend has helped numerous brands find success, such as Wilderness Family Naturals coconut products. Ecotrend assisted Wilderness Family Naturals’ sales growth in excess of 30-percent per year, especially as consumer awareness increases regarding coconut oil and the benefit of its flavorful, healthy fats. Likewise, green tea is now globally recognized for its health benefits, and Ecotrend has secured its DoMatcha brand to the No. 1 spot amongst all green tea products in North America.
Ecotrend proudly returns the favor, as in the case of SpeedBolt Printing Solutions, a North Vancouver-based printing services company. Ecotrend has entrusted virtually all of its printing needs to SpeedBolt over the past 25 years, including stationary, business cards with letterheads and product information sheets in between.
Casting a Wide Net
Both company headquarters and a warehouse are located in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the team receives shipments from suppliers and repacks products into orders. The orders are then shipped out for sale in retail locations around the world and through alternative healthcare practices within Canada. More so than the company’s extensive geographical reach, the Ecotrend team’s understanding and commitment to each product is surely represented.
The Ecotrend team now includes roughly 50 professionals and sales account managers peppered across Canada. The collaborative team includes one registered holistic nutritionist, a certified nutritionist practitioner, a clinical herbalist, a medical doctor, a health sciences specialist and one sales accountant manager, who is both an Ayurvedic medicine practitioner and a master herbalist.
“I myself have three degrees, and none of them are really related to the business,” jokes John. John earned degrees in forestry conservation and kinesiology and a teaching degree over the years, which at least partially explains the company’s focus on natural healing and a respect for nature’s resources.
“When not in the office, I live with my wife and manage the business from a small island in the Gulf Island Chain off the coast of British Columbia,” John explains. The home is completely off the grid and relies on a combination of solar power and wood for heating purposes. The home also draws from its own water source and a fully functional organic fruit and vegetable garden, according to John. “It is at this location that most of my inspiration originates for moving the company forward,” he says.
In that vein, Ecotrend is the only health and wellness company to achieve Climate Smart certification to date. The government sponsored program works with small and medium-sized enterprises to measure the operation’s carbon footprint and develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Ecotrend achieved certification in 2011 by focusing the team’s efforts on reducing energy use, paper, waste and shipping. By equipping every warehouse employee with a handheld scanner, products are scanned as they are packed and loaded for shipment. This not only increases transparency and aids in inventory management, but it also helped reduce the number of errors and total shipments. These reductions translated into decreased energy needs, a lower carbon footprint and less waste generated overall.
Complete Client Support
John proudly describes Ecotrend’s role as a full-service boutique distributor, meaning virtually everything is carried out with in-house employees and customers can count on the Ecotrend team to manage accounts with unparalleled professionalism and personal attention. “We’re not a marketing firm, but we understand the pressures of the industry and we offer hands-on help with everything from marketing to industry regulations and branding, simply as perks,” asserts John.
This approach has worked largely because Ecotrend refuses to represent a product its team can’t fully stand behind; either because of safety concerns, quality shortcomings or a product’s failure to sufficiently differentiate itself from the competition. Ecotrend picks up anywhere from three to six new brands every quarter by John’s estimates, which Ecotrend’s product review team whittles down from a selection of 15 to 20 products in total. Hempco numbers amongst one of Ecotrend’s recently hand-picked brands, which boasts a line of hemp protein powders and products that capitalize on hemp’s naturally occurring Omega-3 amino acids.
Ecotrend also picked up Naturally Canadian Superfood’s Real Aloe brand, which includes a variety of aloe drinks. “Aloe Vera has been popular for decades, but this brand stuck out because the company has some unique flavors using only organic berries, with no synthetic ingredients or artificial colors whatsoever,” states John. “The brand is launching in September [2012] at our industry trade show in Toronto.”
Proof of Ecotrend’s total commitment to mutual success lies within the company’s hard work to make itself as transparent as possible. The team will assist clients in navigating the complex world of securing a natural products number through the Canadian government, which is required for any natural health product to be sold. “We also provide monthly sales reports to all of our clients, which is not a common practice in our industry,” adds John. “The reports show our sales in every part of the country and even which sales person is doing well in certain areas.”
In the next few years John plans on expanding the company’s warehouse space and extending its distribution to Finland, the Netherlands, Russia and Austria. Wherever the company decides to wander, the team’s personal touch and deeply rooted belief in natural healing will ensure customers, suppliers and Ecotrend Ecologics Ltd. succeed together.