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If you have any doubt that public interest in natural health products has been on the rise for years, consider the fact that natural products distributor Puresource was named on Profit Magazine's list of the 100 fastest growing Canadian companies three times between 1997 and 2000.

If you have any doubt that public interest in natural health products has been on the rise for years, consider the fact that natural products distributor Puresource was named on Profit Magazine's list of the 100 fastest growing Canadian companies three times between 1997 and 2000.

"In the late 90s, we were growing at breakneck speed," says Matt Lebeau, Puresource's VP of Sales; the company made Profit's list in 1997, 1998, and 2000, and received an honourable mention in 1999.

Based in Guelph, Ontario, Puresource was founded in 1989 by Ron Billings, a former sales manager for a sports nutrition firm. Billings began with a vision of a company that would develop and market innovative natural products that optimize health and wellnessand sixteen years later, Puresource is the leading full-service broker and distributor of natural products in Canada.

Puresource supplies Canadian retailers with quality products from more than 260 worldwide manufacturers, and also researches, develops, and manufactures its own product lines. The company has developed more than 90 original brands representing a total of more than 400 original products, including Herbal Select herbal supplements; Simply Clean environmentally responsible cleaning products; and Just Juice, a line of organic not-from-concentrate juices.

"Researching and developing top-quality products is a responsibility we take very seriously," notes Lebeau. "We have six PhDs on staff, and for every dollar we spend on marketing, we invest $1.50 in product research and development. We inspect all raw materials carefully, and we reject materials as unsuitable on a regular basis."

Puresource is the founding member of the Natural Health Products Technology Cluster (NHPTC), a group that now comprises more than 50 companies dedicated to research and advocacy for natural health products in Canada.

In 1999 the company reached a milestone when it became the first ISO 9002-certified natural foods distributor. ISO 9002 certification is a global standard for quality assurance processes and ensures that a company's products and services are among the best in the world.

"We regularly receive applications from companies such as gourmet food manufacturers who feel that their product has some 'crossover' appeal to the natural health market," adds Lebeau. "We thank them for their interest, but remind them that we are exclusively in the business of carrying natural health products."

Now that Puresource's initial growth spurt is over, the company continues to refine and streamline its operations, ensuring that it can deliver quality products at very competitive prices. In 2003, the company opened a new 20,000-square-foot distribution centre in Calgary, and the following year they expanded their primary Guelph warehouse to 60,000 square feet, also re-engineering it to increase the efficiency of its operations.

As a member of the Canadian Health Food Association, Puresource is dedicated to providing valuable health information to Canadians. On the company's website, they offer a free e-newsletter covering developments in health and natural products, with separate versions available for both consumers and health food retailers; to learn more, visit www.puresource.ca.

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