On April 16, 2018, the Jay Robb Corporation celebrated its 30th birthday.
Our first office was the spare bedroom of my apartment in the North Park area of San Diego. We have come a long way since our humble beginning in 1988. Our journey has been a wild and wonderful ride to the top and we deeply thank the millions of loyal fans and customers who have made Jay Robb the #1 Premium Brand of Protein in America. A lot went into our rise to the top, and it didn’t happen quickly. Like I often say, “Our company was a 20-year overnight success.” Becoming #1 required a lot of time, money, and effort, combined with total faith in God.
Success is a journey, not a destination, and we are living proof.
How Jay Robb Protein Became the
#1 Premium Brand of Protein in America
In 1985, I was working in the produce department at Jimbo’s health food store and living in a tent in the backyard of a hippie-house near San Diego State University. My hair was long and my list of possessions was short. My bank account was small but my heart was big. I was poor in money but rich in ideas. I was living the hippie life to the max and loving it. I owned a 1970 Volkswagen Beetle along with six boxes of clothes and personal items. I had a vision to start a company that would put God first while bringing better health to the world. This company would be my life’s mission.
Jay Robb Enterprises was founded with a burning desire to educate Americans to the many benefits of being healthy and physically fit. When I founded Jay Robb Enterprises in 1988, I had already experienced life as a fitness club owner. I loved owning a gym because it gave me the opportunity to teach our members how to exercise and eat right, but I was restricted to just our members. I wanted to reach millions, not a few thousand. So I turned to writing books.
I procured a business license on April 16, 1988 and launched my new business venture. As stated previously, my first office was the spare bedroom of a duplex in the North Park area of San Diego. I purchased a used Macintosh computer from my friend Richard for $2,000 cash—and I was in business! Every morning I would get up at 5:00 AM and begin writing on my book entitled, Loving Health. At 12:30 PM I would walk to Jimbo’s health food store, where I worked in the organic produce department.
In 1988, I began writing a feature column for Natural Bodybuilding Magazine (then called Natural Physique). I continued to write this column for the next 20 years. My column was “The Hardgainers Corner” and I discussed diet plans and exercise routines for gaining muscle for bodybuilders who were not genetically gifted. In exchange for my monthly column, I received a half-page ad that allowed me to advertise nationally. This column and free ad space soon came in handy for everything that was about to happen in my company.
I completed my book, Loving Health, and launched it in January of 1989, selling it at health food stores in the San Diego area. To promote book sales, I conducted seminars throughout San Diego. In my book, and at my seminars, I showed how to make protein drinks for fast and easy meals in minutes. People would often ask me what protein powder I recommended, but there was a problem, which made me hesitate when answering. I could not find a really good protein powder on the market that was a formula I approved of. None! This frustrated me, but instead of getting mad, I took action!
There were only a handful of protein powders on the market at the time. Most of the protein powders sold in health food stores were soy based and most of the ones sold in gyms were milk and egg formulas. And one thing was consistent with all protein powders on the market at that time; they all tasted nasty, gritty, and were often laced with sugars, artificial sweeteners, and/or artificial ingredients. So I decided to create my own protein powder and my objective was to use no artificial ingredients, no soy protein, and no sugar. I also wanted my protein to TASTE outrageously delicious.
I began formulating a product and my first prototype was a milk and egg protein that we launched in early 1990. It tasted good but was not the ideal because it contained casein, which is a milk protein that some folks are sensitive to. So we dropped the milk protein from the formula which made it a zero-carb egg white protein powder. We used a unique natural flavoring, which contained no sugars or anything artificial and Bingo, we had a winner! It was the first protein powder on the market that had a smooth taste and nothing artificial.
I personally went to every health food store in the San Diego area and talked the buyers into carrying my unique protein powder. At the time, the buyers would ask me why there were no carbs or sweeteners in the protein. I said that there would soon be a time when the customers would demand sugar-free protein powders that were low in carbs. I knew this because of my bodybuilding roots. My focus was to bring a high-quality protein powder to moms, dads, kids, families, runners, casual weight lifters, golfers, amateur sports enthusiasts, armchair athletes, and average folks so that they could reap the same health benefits that bodybuilders and strength athletes enjoyed.
To increase sales and awareness, in 1990, I created a carb-cycling diet plan entitled, The Fat Burning Diet, that went against the typical high-carb diets that had dominated the bookshelves throughout the 1980s. I tested this diet plan nationwide through the fitness magazines that I wrote articles and columns for. The diet was a huge hit because it caused rapid weight loss.
Sales of our protein powders were slow but steady over the next few years as word spread of our premium egg white formula. Around 1992, a new technology was developed that could isolate the whey protein fraction from crude sweet dairy whey. Sweet dairy whey is the liquid left over when cheese and cottage cheese are made. This liquid was in abundance and now, the highly prized whey protein fraction could be isolated by removing the lactose (milk sugar) which predominated sweet dairy whey.
Wanting to produce the cleanest and best whey protein possible, in late 1993, we launched WHEY BY JAY, a 100% PURE Whey Protein Isolate. Nothing like it had ever been available before. It was the purest of the pure. But sales were weak for the first year the product was on the market. During this time period, I was writing an expanded version of my book, The Fat Burning Diet.
Within a year after The Fat Burning Diet was released, our product sales doubled, which showed me the power of educating our customers. At the time, having moved from my tent, I was operating my company out of the two car garage at my home. I had converted the garage into an office, warehouse, and personal training center. I answered phones, filled orders, and trained clients in the morning. The afternoons and evenings, I managed Jimbo’s health store (I had been promoted to store manager). My day began at 5:00 AM and ended around 11:00 PM. At the time, my son Angelo was five and would spend the mornings with me pretending he was filling orders, training clients, and counting inventory. I loved it!
All my hard work was paying off and the rapid growth of our company demanded that I lease an office space and small warehouse. It was an exciting time for me as Jay Robb Enterprises was blooming before my eyes. Sales had increase to the point that I could use the profits as my sole source of income. I gave my two-weeks notice at Jimbo’s and went full-time with my budding company. I grew the company on cash, which meant we remained debt free. We grew as fast as our sales grew. This ruled out failure and ensured our long-term success.
About the time we moved to our new location, I was also working on a revolutionary new whey protein powder formula. This new whey protein would allow us to extend our line of protein. We could offer an egg protein formula and a whey protein formula. In September of 1995, the FDA had lifted the ban on the import of the herb stevia. Stevia is an herb that has a sweet taste when mixed with certain foods and flavorings. Sales for our 100% PURE unflavored whey protein isolate were good, but many consumers were wanting a great-tasting flavored product. I was up for the task, and within nine months we launched our new outrageously delicious whey protein formula that featured stevia as part of the natural flavor system.
To the best of my knowledge, we were the world’s first company to use stevia in a protein powder formula. The FDA would not allow us to label stevia as a sweetener, so we included it in our flavor system and claimed no sweetener. The product tasted sweet, yet contained no sugar, artificial sweeteners, or artificial ingredients. It mixed easily and delivered a whopping 24 grams of protein per 30 gram serving. Nothing like it had ever been on the market. Our closest competitor was using acesulfame-k (an artificial sweetener created by heating potassium to about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit).
My carb-cycling book, The Fat Burning Diet, along with other popular carb-controlled diets that came after it, created a demand for protein powder to make shakes as a means to supplement one’s diet. And because of this new awareness, there were now dozens of protein powders on the market, as manufacturers raced to capitalize on the consumers demand for more protein.
My new protein powder formula was absolutely delicious, but I was not content with this. I wanted to create the “best-tasting protein on the planet”, so I continued to refine my flavoring system using various forms of stevia to get the exact sweetness and rich flavors I wanted.
By 1997, I had improved our formula three times until it was perfected. We trademarked the tag line, “The Best-Tasting Protein on the Planet” and I personally hawked my protein at health food stores in the San Diego area, Orange County, and LA. Sadly at the time, I was rejected by almost all health food stores. They simply refused to carry our Whey Protein. The buyers liked my Egg White Protein, which had been a top seller for them since 1990, and claimed they had no more shelf space. Also, many other brands of whey protein began to appear and had already filled up the shelves at their stores. I was typecast as a producer of Egg White Protein and they could not see me producing whey, even though we had pioneered some of the nation’s first formulas.
Frustration set in as store after store turned me down. So I turned frustration into elation by taking action! I leased a space in a strip mall in Encinitas, California and opened Jay Robb’s Nutrition Center, which featured Jay Robb Whey Protein, along with our entire line of nutritional products. I also moved our warehouse and offices to the strip mall so I could run the nutrition center and the company from one location.
This proved to be one of my smartest moves in the company’s history. As customers flocked to our store, I offered them FREE samples of my new Whey Protein for them to taste test. I mixed the protein in water so the customers knew exactly how my protein tasted without having to mix it in juice or something sweet. To make a long story short, our Whey Protein began to fly off our shelves and soon the same customers were demanding that their local health food stores carry Jay Robb Whey Protein.
Over time, the pressure on the stores increased to such a high level that the stores started calling us to order our Whey Protein. We gladly filled the orders, got the stores set up with huge displays, and proceeded to turn Jay Robb Protein into the #1 premium brand in America.
To get our protein to fly off the shelves, I offered tasting demos at every store. I also conducted weight-loss seminars on Wednesday nights at stores in San Diego, Orange County, and LA. This one-two punch really put Jay Robb on the map! But wait, there is more!
Word was spreading across the nation about Jay Robb Protein. With very little advertising, word of mouth combined with the efforts of our sales team, soon Jay Robb Protein was in thousands of stores. With sales going off the charts, we once again moved our offices and warehouse to a larger location in Carlsbad, California. I converted our nutrition center into a fitness center and began teaching the members how to realize the body of their dreams.
Around 1999, the FDA had eased up on the regulation of the herb stevia and we were allowed to list it on our protein labels, but could not call it a sweetener. Now the cat was out of the bag as our secret ingredient was revealed and before long, the copycats came out in droves trying to duplicate the Jay Robb formula. Using stevia in a formula is no easy task, which our competitors soon discovered. Like I always say, “We are often imitated, but never duplicated.”
In that same year, with the help of my friend Kita (KitaFit.com), I landed a weekly spot on KUSI Channel 9 News as, The Fat Burning Chef. Each week, I appeared and showed viewers how to make FAT-BURNING meals in minutes. This gig lasted four straight years and also included a radio show of the same name. With greater exposure, protein sales continued to climb rapidly.
In 2003, due to the high demand for our protein powders, countless customers called to request that we make a high-quality protein bar, so we did! It took three years to perfect a clean protein bar that was void of the usually low-quality ingredients and cheap proteins. We developed three delicious flavors, put as many organic ingredients as possible into each bar, and quickly got our JayBars into thousands of stores. It wasn’t long before sales went through the roof! Now people could experience a Jay Robb protein creation on the go!
In 2005, I created a unique cleansing program entitled, the FRUIT FLUSH 3-Day Detox. I utilized all my knowledge and experience from my decades of using fresh fruits and vegetables as cleansing agents of the body. America went crazy for this cleansing program that could help them lose up to 9 pounds in just 3 days. Within a matter of months, Oprah Magazine listed the FRUIT FLUSH as one of the top six hottest-selling diet books in the nation!
After outgrowing six prior locations (due to rapid growth), in 2006, the Jay Robb Corporation purchased a beautiful 21,000-square-foot office building and warehouse in Carlsbad, California (near Legoland). That same year, I set out on a national tour to promote my FRUIT FLUSH 3-Day Detox. I performed countless sold-out seminars across America that year, quickly turning Jay Robb into a household name.
To the best of my knowledge, I was the world’s first protein powder formulator to use stevia instead of sugars or artificial sweeteners. We were also the world’s first protein company to insist that our whey raw materials be derived from grass-fed cows not treated with synthetic hormones, such as rBGH and rBST. We keep raising the bar higher and higher in our efforts to always improve and offer only the best.
Now, three decades after the inception of Jay Robb Enterprises Inc., hundreds of brands of protein powders line the shelves of health food stores, supermarkets, and nutrition centers. It seems that anyone can slap a label on a generic container of protein and say, “Here is my protein.” Sadly, most of those protein powders contain cheaper proteins, artificial ingredients, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, sugars, and/or fillers. Most protein powders also contain GMO (genetically modified) ingredients such as soy lecithin and corn maltodextrin.
Many of the whey proteins on the market are made with ion-exchange whey protein isolate, which is a denatured protein due to the processing required. We only use a cold-filtered process that requires no heat or chemicals. Ion-exchange processing whey was the original means of procuring a whey protein isolate, but since then, cold-filter processing has been perfected and should always be the method of choice for a whey protein isolate or concentrate.
Jay Robb Protein is now international, as we expand our market to Canada, Korea, Australia, Europe, and many more countries around the globe. Little did I know, when I made my first homemade protein shake in 1966 at 13 years of age, that someday Jay Robb Protein would be an international phenomenon.