High-tech vitamins, low-tech town
Theres a big vitamin company in the little town of Dover, just two miles west of Sandpoint. Thorne Research is a leading nutritional company with about 230 products distributed worldwide in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia.
If you call any preventative medicine doctor and ask them what the best (nutritional) company in the world is, theyll all say Thorne, President Al Czap said. Were the company that people end up trusting with their lives.
In particular, Thorne gears its products for people with allergies. Thorne is the only company, period, on the planet that takes raw materials and works with them so people cant get allergic reactions to them, Czap said.
The nearly 20-year-old company has 80 employees, including four naturopathic doctors and an attorney. The impressive 58,000-square-foot facility in Dover houses manufacturing, sales and administration. Another 17,000 square feet is rented in Sandpoint for shipping. Thorne moved here from the Seattle area in 1990 and first housed itself in a building a quarter of its present size in Ponderay.
Thornes theme in its sales brochures, You cant lie to an allergy patient, refers to the fillers and binders that people cant tolerate, ugly, unnecessary ingredients such as lactose and peanut oil, not to mention flowing agents that affect absorption.
Thorne products are only available through licensed health care practitioners and pharmacies because of their therapeutic nature. And although it does little advertising, the company grew by 17 percent in 2001 and 13 percent in the first two quarters of 2002. Czap attributes this to word-of-mouth sales.
The Kellogg, Idaho native holds three patents and has a fourth pending. He is also the publisher of Alternative Medicine Review, a bimonthly, indexed medical journal. While Al oversees production, his wife, Kelly, oversees the office and designs all the graphics for the company.
As he shares product testimonials, Czap declares that it makes him feel good to help people. There are people out there who are alive because of what we do, he said.
Billie Jean Plaster