Yes, you read the title correctly!
In an industry-shifting maneuver, Nutrabolt announced it has purchased Scivation, the undisputed leader of BCAA supplements. As many of you know, Nutrabolt is the parent company of supplement powerhouse Cellucor as well as the protein bar upstart FitJoy.
Adding Scivation to the collection of companies under Nutrabolt’s umbrella gives the company the two most recognizable products in the BCAA and pre workout niches of the market. On top of that, Nutrabolt’s greater supply chain and distribution channels open up a number of other doors for growing Scivation’s reach with Xtend.
First things first – for anyone concerned, we have been told that there are no plans to change Scivation or their product line – if you’re an Xtend fan, Scivation Xtend will continue to be Scivation Xtend with the same great flavors and formula.
With that out of the way, here’s what happened:
Details of the Deal
We got a chance to speak with Doss Cunningham, Nutrabolt’s CEO, soon after the deal was completed. The discussion covered a wide range of topics, but one thing we really wanted to know was “how does a deal like this come to fruition?”
It all started over a quiet dinner between two friends back in November 2016 between Doss and Scivation CEO Mike Hockenberry. While dining, a conversation took place that basically conveyed the idea that Scivation could be up for sale.
As many of you may know (or not), the supplement industry is an incredibly small, well-connected group of individuals who have many pre-existing relationships among each other. Doss and Mike were old friends, and as the two friends began to catch up, one thing led to another, and here we are 5 months later!
Specific details of the deal (ie. sale price and terms) weren’t disclosed, but we can imagine all parties are pleased with the terms given how quickly the deal was completed.
What Happens Next?
The next batch of topics we discussed with Doss & Co. dealt with what exactly is happening with Scivation, its employees, the products, etc. Here’s some highlights of the interview:
On the topic of Scivation’s “place” within Nutrabolt:
Scivation will remain its own separate entity and will continue to operate as is. In fact, Nutrabolt wants to continue to grow Scivation’s brand by continuing to expand the growth and reach of Xtend.
Given Cellucor’s and FitJoy’s successes, it’s hard to argue with the success of the Nutrabolt marketing machine, and they believe they can use some of the things they’ve learned along the way in growing Scivation even more.
Nutrabolt wants to “do right” by Scivation’s customers
Basically, Nutrabolt wants to ensure current Scivation customers aren’t affected negatively in any way by the change in ownership, so particular attention will be paid to consumer outreach and interaction with the current buys of Scivation’s products.
Again, Xtend will stay the same and the flavors will stay the same. More on flavors later.
Nutrabolt is taking their time in assessing Scivation’s current infrastructure and needs. To that end, it’s simply too early to know right now if more resources will be added to Scivation’s current work staff, or if some personnel will be shifted among the various Nutrabolt companies.
The overarching idea that Doss & Co. continued to convey is that they want to grow Scivation, and with that, we don’t anticipate massive layoffs or anything of the sort.
Nutrabolt has a considerable marketing arsenal at their disposal that they are planning to use for Scivation. This includes things such as retail demonstrations at supplement stores, greater sampling efforts, 1:1 customer interactions, and more. So, you can expect to to start seeing a lot more Xtend samplings at your local supp store in the near future!
In addition, you can look forward to seeing Xtend go international. Nutrabolt will use their international marketing machine to bring Xtend along for the ride, since C4 is nearly everywhere.
We all know that Scivation is the king of flavoring when it comes to the BCAA supplements — every single one of them seems to be a surefire winner. So we wanted to know if Nutrabolt plans to use any of Scivation’s flavoring in their other product lines (i.e. would we see a “Blood Orange” flavor C4 popping up soon?!)
When asked about that, Doss said that Cellucor plans to “learn” from Scivation’s flavoring whizzes, but didn’t go so far as to say they would be using the exact flavoring system in Cellucor or Royal Sport’s supplements.
We found it interesting that flavoring came up in both phone calls we’ve had with Nutrabolt, so this is clearly a huge deal with Xtend’s BCAAs.
Doss chimed in with this quote:
“We are excited to be teaming up with Scivation to bring to market the most comprehensive, innovative and proven line of pre-workout and BCAA products. We have been long admirers of Scivation due to its strong strategic fit within our portfolio and talented leadership team, which has built one of the most recognizable sports nutrition brands on shelves today and is backed by a fiercely loyal consumer base. We are confident that the XTEND brand has significant runway and can achieve even greater market penetration and an expanded assortment as part of our platform.”
–Doss Cunningham, Nutrabolt CEO
What about Primaforce?
Primaforce is another brand that the team behind Scivation owns that specializes in bulk supplements, like Peak02, TeaCrine, and many others. When asked if Primaforce was also included in the Scivation deal, Doss replied that Primaforce was not involved in the acquisition.
What happens to Primaforce then?
We don’t know at this point, but don’t worry, we’ll stay on top of the situation and keep you posted on any new developments!
Mike McCandless, Founder of Scivation:
Mike McCandless is the owner and founder of Scivation, who started the company in 2004 in Burlington, North Carolina with a vision to innovate using sound scientific research. It was started in his mother’s kitchen, and it was his mother who came up for the name with the company. This is pivotal, as you’ll see why in our interview below.
Scivation literally created the intra-workout category of supplements with the research they put into BCAAs and the development of Xtend (and all its subsequent iterations).
We reached out to Mike with a few questions, and got a hell of a response:
Will you still be active with Scivation? If so, for how long?
“I will help WoodBolt [Nutrabolt] for as long as needed to ensure transition goes smoothly. We’re based out of NC, they’re in TX. There are a lot of synergies, but plenty of unique things about Scivation to be handed off. I’m looking forward to working with their team.”
What will you be doing next? Under what company name?
“5 years ago my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I had dabbled in funding various performance studies, but nothing on the medical end. I decided to use my resources to fund medical studies in rodents. The research we’ve funded as yielded some interesting results and I’m preparing to take the next step of human trials. My mom passed in September. It was a sign to me, that I needed to focus on a new passion, medical research. This transaction will allow me to fund human trials.
Our first human trial will be for Angelman’s Syndrome. I have over 5 medical patents at this point, all that need human studies. We will be launching a brand in GNC called Ketologic. A university studied high fat MRP and a BHB supplement.
I will continue to support the Primaforce brand as well, one of the top selling commodity brands in sports nutrition. I have a tremendous amount of confidence in these projects moving forward.
Almost 2 years ago I hired a fantastic CEO named Mike Hockenberry. Without him, none of this would have happened. Him, combined with Brian Kinn, who has been with me since 2005 as CFO, I’d be lost. With these 2 guys at my side and the rest of the team we have built, I’m excited about the impact we can make.”
What do you think Nutrabolt’s teams can bring to Scivation that hadn’t been a big focus or strength in the past?
“They’re a well oiled machine. Over the previous months we’ve had the opportunity to work with their executive leadership. They’re experienced in placing product all over the world. Anywhere Xtend is, C4 is already there. Now there is an opportunity for Xtend to sit beside C4 in all of those other locations.
The scale to which they can do things on a marketing front, we were years away from. They have an ability to put a team together on 1 project to see it through. At Scivation, we’ve all wore many hats over the years. Just 3 weeks ago I was crawling on the floor in Australia at the Arnold Classic disassembling booths and cleaning mixers out.”
What was the hardest part of this transaction? I understand that there’s a lot of sentimental attachment to the name, obviously…
“Scivation was started in my mom’s kitchen. She was an important part during the early years of the company. She was incredibly organized and handled my books the first 2 years. Those that have followed me on social know I was incredibly close to my mom. The hardest part of this process was the constant reminder that she is no longer here. We’ve worked very hard to get to this moment and I would have given anything for her to be here to see it.
If you eliminate that component, the hardest part of any transaction is the emotional/physical drain. When we closed, both sides were spent. However hard you think a process like this is, triple it. You have teams of people working non stop 24/7 for months. You keep thinking there is something you missed. Once you close, now the next phase of transition starts. My team did the lion’s share of work pre transaction, my heavy lifting comes post transaction with bringing their teams up to speed and helping integrate Scivation.”
What are your most proud moments at Scivation?
“We did it “our way”. We took a nontraditional approach, the slow game. We didn’t release 300 sku’s. We decided to have 1 core product and be the best in the world at that one thing. There was no intraworkout category when we started. We made constant improvements over 13 years. We funded studies showing product efficacy, which almost never happens in this industry. Having a company get to this point, is similar to a watching a kid grow up. There are different phases that occur. I feel like the past 18 months we became a real company. Now it’s time to hand it off to Nutrabolt who will take it to that next level.
What will you miss most?
“Consumer impact. We always tried to formulate products that worked. I can look back on Xtend, Peak02 and Flexatril and know we made some of the best products on the market. Not me too items. We just released Quake 10.0, which is doing awesome. We would get feedback from consumers about products impacting their lives in a positive way. The same feeling you get from volunteering or donating money to your favorite charity, we would get daily from consumers all over the world. It’s addicting. It’s how I knew it was the right time to move on. I still plan on getting that feedback, just from the medical and keto side of business.”
A big thanks to Mike for taking them time to answer those questions!
Scviation’s CEO speaks out:
Mike Hockenberry, Scivation’s CEO mentioned above, also issued a statement on the sale:
“We are thrilled to be joining Nutrabolt and leveraging their global platform to strengthen and expand our business. Over the past 18 months, Scivation has been deeply focused on innovation, launching new line extensions such as XTEND GO, XTEND Perform and XTEND Free. These new products, combined with XTEND’s current momentum and the immediate distribution synergies Nutrabolt brings, will propel the brand forward under new ownership. I am very proud of our team and the business we have built and look forward to our next phase of growth.”
— Mike Hockenberry, Scivation CEO
This kind of sale is a real landscape shifter in the industry as two of the best known brands are now under a single roof. What kind of things can consumers expect to see?
After speaking with Doss & Co., they gave us some hints of what we might see coming in the not too near future. In their effort to continue to grow Scivation, they are keen to attack the endurance space of the sports nutrition market — does this mean the big dog on the block… going after Gatorade???
Scivation has hit on a real winner with Xtend, and Nutrabolt is looking to expand that to tackle sports nutrition on an entirely new level. That means we may see some sort of new sports drink using Xtend’s popular BCAA ratio along with carbs and some other endurance boosters like Peak02 or maybe even some fun form factors like Xtend Gummies!
Whatever lies ahead, you can rest assured we’ll be on top of any new developments and here with the full analysis, but for now, all you need to know is that Xtend is still Xtend!
Stay tuned for more, and congratulations to Mike, Doss, and their incredible teams!
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