Scott Sensenbrenner currently sits on the Strategic Advisory Board of the American Nutrition Association (ANA). His election to the board is a testament to his experience of more than 30 years in the natural products industry, including working as the president and CEO of Enzymedica. These achievements point towards his impact on the nutrition and health care industries over the years.
As president and CEO of Enzymedica, Scott Sensenbrenner proves his leadership ability and his skill and experience as a strategist in the natural products industry. Through the years, he has also shown a “long history of heartfelt support of nonprofits.” His insight and expertise have proven to be invaluable ingredients in the continued success of his company as well as his other endeavors, including sitting on the board of the ANA.
Aside from his work at Enzymedica, Scott Sensenbrenner has also shown consistent support for several advocacies. These include the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC), Vitamin Angels. Not only is Scott a board member of the ANA, but he also sits on the board of the Economic Development Corporation for Sarasota County. He also served on the Board of Directors at the Roskamp Institute, which pioneers research into the “diseases of the mind.”
Scott Sensenbrenner has built a decades-long career out of his passion to help people “gain a personalized approach to good health and nutrition.”
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Scott Sensenbrenner: As a child, I grew up in a household of five children and from an early age, we were taught that if you wanted something in life you had to earn it. To put some color around this early lesson in life, I remember around the age of 12, on a hot summer day, my friends asked me to join them at the neighborhood pool. So, I ran in the house and asked my mother if I could have $1 for the entry and another 50 cents for candy. Rather than simply giving me the money, she walked into the garage and handed me a large bucket and said once I had filled it up with acorns, she would give me the money. I remember being very disappointed as my friends left and went on to the pool without me. Meanwhile, I stayed back and filled that bucket to earn my day in the sun.
I share this story because it was a lesson of learning the value of each $1 and in today’s world that is often forgotten. But beyond the $1 itself, my life and career was built on filling “one bucket of acorns at a time!”
After I graduated from high school it was time for college, and because I had to pay for my own education, I started at a community college. I later transferred to the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh to complete my degree. Looking back, I took my education very seriously and worked extra hard for every credit — since I was the one paying for it.
From that humble beginning in Wisconsin, I never lost my focus moving forward. I intuitively knew that I would continue with that same work ethic by earning my own way in an effort to achieve the best life possible.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Scott Sensenbrenner: Always having to earn my own way, there have been many times that I thought about taking an easier path. The greatest challenge was when I left big business and took an entrepreneurial route with Enzymedica, my present position as CEO, which at the time of my joining the company was a very small family-run business. My ego, at the time, thought I could apply best practices from what I had learned in my prior corporate experiences and quickly ramp up the company. What I didn’t appreciate was how difficult it was to take a company with very few resources and support staff and bring it to the next level. It seemed every time I was dealing with a large challenge that represented another mountain to climb, a recruiter would contact me with an amazing opportunity to be CEO of an even larger organization. It was very tempting, at challenging moments, to return to the safety of leading a company with critical mass, but I was committed to the challenge Enzymedica presented. Beyond the internal motivation of building the company, I felt a strong calling that consumers needed to learn more about the healing power of enzymes for their digestive health.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Scott Sensenbrenner: In the early years of Enzymedica, we needed to raise more capital to fund our growth. Therefore, we hired a banker and started doing road shows with potential investors. After several meetings we became very frustrated because each firm wanted too much control. Then finally we met a private investor, whom I was very excited to meet because he was coming from the natural products industry. When we walked into his office nothing felt right and I couldn’t pinpoint why. Just as the meeting was about to begin, he asked us not to speak as he needed a moment of silence. He then turned around and saluted to nine photographs of generals — some of whom you wouldn’t be proud to have on your wall. The rest of the meeting was learning about his success and ego.
As much as we needed him as an investor at that stage of the business, we didn’t pursue the partnership because the culture match simply wasn’t there. Looking back, that was one of the best decisions we ever made. We ended up with investors matching our beliefs and overall culture of not compromising in anything we do. It’s important for anyone who owns a business, and is considering bringing on investor partners, that they look beyond the money and also focus on ensuring that they are the perfect fit for the mission of your enterprise.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
Scott Sensenbrenner: It all begins with what is your “purpose” as a company and organization? Too many companies will waiver on purpose and lose sight of the very reason why they exist. This lack of focus in many cases will cause a business to deviate so far from their core that the unintended result is that the team itself becomes confused. This leads to a divided purpose, as individual team members will go off in different directions based on their own interpretation of the mission of the company as opposed to acting as one team with one goal.
At Enzymedica, our purpose is clear, and that is to be a world leader in searching the planet for the most efficacious natural solutions to digestive health and total body wellness indications, along with our commitment to being a good corporate citizen of the planet.
Once purpose is defined, it is then important to evaluate your existing team and put in place recruitment strategies to ensure that you are retaining and attracting the best talent. At Enzymedica, a core part of our management philosophy is to look beyond the resume of skills and hire employees who share our passion for natural living. More specifically, we look for people that have had a life-long commitment in their own lives that matches our company values.
This leads to company culture that authenticates the purpose of the organization. Culture itself, in my opinion, is oftentimes forced and unnatural in companies. Instead culture should be like a river — it simply flows throughout the organization and through each of its team members. Within our organization you can literally feel our culture as you tour the company. It’s demonstrated by all of our employees and throughout our working environment. As I mentioned earlier, being a natural health company means that we not only produce products from nature but also are a certified carbon neutral organization. This is demonstrated from our roof top solar farm producing power for our headquarters, to the smallest of details like our water fountains that fill reusable cups so that we mitigate the plastic bottle usage. Just the other day I was in our production facility and drank from one of these fountains. As I did, I noticed the digital meter on that fountain recorded that we had saved over 1 million plastic bottles.
As the team and culture become established, you have to look outside your own internal world and determine how you define and produce meaningful innovation to differentiate your brand from your competition. This is easier said than done because anything that is different from the marketplace can be called innovation. At Enzymedica, innovation is well-defined since we focus on finding ingredients which have been scientifically proven to be the most efficacious. We then use third-party testing such as The Clean Label Project and other testing providers to ensure that our products are meeting all of our stringent quality requirements.
Finally, the greatest hurdle of success is being able to master both internal and external communication. This has been an ongoing challenge for us since we are a very dynamic company and we’re constantly adapting to the changing marketplace, which requires active communication. When we noticed this communication issue, we made it a company priority to define personal communication strategies and goals. In addition, we hired a leadership consultant who first worked on the issue with our executive team, who then defined our communication needs, and we extended the training and communication goals to the rest of our employees. We continue to focus on the importance of communication since it’s a never-ending commitment to improving ourselves.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Scott Sensenbrenner: I cannot stress enough how valuable a purpose driven strategy will be to your enterprise. We have found that it helps us to retain our employees, increases our ability to compete for better talent, and provides us with a clear advantage over our competition in the eyes of consumers who want to purchase from brands which are committed to making a difference beyond their products.
For Enzymedica, our purpose-driven approach is ingrained in our culture as an organization. It’s important that if you take on this strategy, you make sure there is authenticity in what you are doing as an organization to make a difference. This needs to extend not only to how you innovate your products or service, but also into making sure that your team is engaged and the organization keeps its focus on this critical mission.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Scott Sensenbrenner: At Enzymedica, we view conversion as the process of building a relationship with our consumers as opposed to a fleeting one-time sale. This goes back to the authenticity of who you are as a company and brand. Do not miss the key point that consumers today are increasingly becoming more educated about the products and services they consume. For example, product packaging and advertising can often be misleading due to a crafty copywriter in a marketing department. That strategy proved effective in the old CPG world.
In today’s marketplace, consumers are paying more attention to authentic product reviews — they want to read what others are saying about your product. In the case of Enzymedica, our primary focus is on digestive health. What we often say is that the one consumer you cannot lie to is the digestive health consumer who is looking for immediate results. Many of our competitors are full line dietary supplement companies who are good at attempting to copy products, while procuring the cheapest ingredients they can find simply to meet a label claim and lower price point. A consumer who tries those products will never gain the same benefit as with ours since we invest in only the highest quality of ingredients, along with ongoing efficacy enhancements. This strategy leads to our goal of developing a long-term relationship with our consumers by delivering on our promise to provide them with health solutions which work for the needs of their body.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Scott Sensenbrenner: My previous answers addressed this question, but for us it’s all about never compromising on efficacy and quality. Going beyond our products, I wish I could invite all of our customers to tour Enzymedica. They would see a world-class facility and meet a team that is the very best at what they do. You can experience some of this by visiting our Enzymedica.com website that features videos of our staff and facility.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!