David Bunch of Growve talks about Having A Mission and Purpose When Selling on Amazon. In this Prime Talk Podcast Sponsored by GETIDA – David Bunch – President of Growve talks about Having A Mission and Purpose When Selling on Amazon and shares his personal journey into e-commerce.
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Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of Prime talk. Today I have a special guest. Today I’m having Dave Bunch. Dave is the president of Growve, which is a brand aggregator of wellness and beauty brands with an e-commerce focus. So Dave, welcome to the show.
David Bunch 0:20
Yeah, thanks. appreciate you having me.
Yoni Mazor 0:23
My pleasure, really. So alright, so today’s episode is going to be the story of David Bunch, you’re going to share with us? Where are you? Where are you from? Where were you born? Where’d you grow up? How’d you begin your professional career all the way to where you are in e-commerce today. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
David Bunch 0:40
Yeah, perfect. Yeah. So hopefully, this is interesting to all of you. But yeah, I grew up in Utah, in a little town, close to the Idaho border, and Logan spent all my youth there. Before I really began college in university studies, I went on a church mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormon Church, as many know, spent two years in…
Yoni Mazor 1:07
So let’s backtrack a little so you grew up in Logan, Utah, and you grew up in a Mormon family?
David Bunch 1:14
I did. Yep.
Yoni Mazor 1:15
So let’s talk for a minute. I want to touch on your childhood if I may. Your parents were they professionals? They’re in the spiritual industry, or?
David Bunch 1:23
Oh, no, not at all. So my father’s a college professor in animal science, and my mom was in elementary education. She mostly spent her working career at home with us. But she, you know, she was educated and had that elementary education background,
Yoni Mazor 1:41
A large family, a small family?
David Bunch 1:44
So yeah, there were four of us, which is about the average family size in Utah. But a lot of my friends had, you know, seven, eight, you know, I had some that had over 1010 kids. They’re very family-oriented, the community I lived in, and Utah, in particular,
Yoni Mazor 2:04
And growing up. Were you involved in anything that was entrepreneurial? And in spirit or nature?
David Bunch 2:10
Yeah, I mean, just from an early age, you know, my parents always encouraged us to have jobs. And so whether it was a paper route, or, or selling things, you know, we were always kind of thinking, you know, how can we make money?
Yoni Mazor 2:27
That’d because of financial reasons, or more like educational, like, you got to own yourself reasons or
David Bunch 2:33
Yeah, combination. I mean, my parents did well and supported me as well. But, you know, they encouraged us to work hard. I mean, my father, he grew up in a family where he was the first high school graduate, and, you know, came from a family that didn’t have a lot of financial means. And so for my father, it was all about, you know, working hard, and, and taking care of yourself. And so, you know, from a young age, you know, I remember I was six years old when I started my first paper out.
Yoni Mazor 3:05
Really six years old? Wow, doing doors, pretty solid.
David Bunch 3:09
Yoni Mazor 3:11
And so from there, you…read the papers back when you were six years old?
David Bunch 3:14
Maybe a little, it was more about, yeah, making some money. And so that’s, it’s hard to when you’re six, you know that that was one of the only options you know, I had at the time. But yeah, all of my siblings were very much that way. We all, you know, worked hard at a young age to really, and they encouraged us to do so. You know, to explore different things. And so I think that’s really where it started.
Yoni Mazor 3:43
That’s great. I love that Okay, so let’s talk so you finished high school and after high school, you went on a mission or trajectory.
David Bunch 3:49
I went on a church mission so how it works is you turn in your papers to the church, and then they assign you to an area to go to and generally for two years.
Yoni Mazor 4:01
Alone when you say attorney, your papers, what kind of papers are we talking about? I’m just not familiar.
David Bunch 4:05
It’s almost like an application saying yes, I want to serve a mission and…
Yoni Mazor 4:09
Almost like a soldier style. Oh, it sounds like the army because you know, when I was a civilian back in Israel, and adjusted to the army, there was a whole kind of chain of events that happened to an all son of my soldier. I’m a property of his big organization called the Israeli idea for Israeli Defense Force. Was that kind of the dynamic or are just you applying application to intermission
David Bunch 4:29
Yeah, it’s more voluntary so it’s not required by the church I would say encouraged. But you know, you go when you’re 18 or 19 years old, and you turn in your paper so like an application saying yes, I want to go it’s something that you actually pay your own way. So it’s something if you’re going to go and do that you have to really believe in what you’re doing. And so I turned in my papers when I was 18. I got called to Uruguay Paraguay and South America, ah and I spent a little over two years there and living with the people you know serving them Montevideo yeah so I spent about a year in Montevideo but I also spend time in what they call the interior of the country and a lot of the smaller cities still have a lot of good friends there I think for me going there really gave me a perspective on you know what I have in the US you know versus you know, see you know, other people and their circumstances.
Yoni Mazor 5:37
And if I may, can you take us a little bit to the world of org Why Why did you experience what you learn about it take us there for a moment because I’ve been there by just for a short few days two years is a much more you know, I guess advanced I would say or more in-depth so take us there for one because I’m curious.
David Bunch 5:53
Oh for sure. Yeah, so it’s just south of Brazil so I remember getting there and I first day and you get off the plane and I thought I knew Spanish because you go to when you do missions, they send you a training center for two months and you learn you learn more about you know, church topics, but also the language and so I thought I knew a little bit when I got off the plane and I heard some people speaking I couldn’t really even I couldn’t really understand anything and so I knew that this is going to be a little bit harder than I thought and it took a few months to really pick up the Spanish language but it did come eventually and by the end I spoke very fluently but I my first area I served it was right up on the border with Brazil on the Atlantic Ocean and my first my first house you know the toilet was just a whole shower was it heat the water through this electrical device so if you if you reach your hand up close to the showerhead it would shock you and so
Yoni Mazor 6:53
I remember those in South America they’re very ubiquitous.
David Bunch 6:57
Yeah so.It was very different you know there weren’t central layers you know there was an air-conditioned there wasn’t central heating but it was interesting the people there you know very kind and friendly you know, they welcomed us into their homes we would eat most meals with people whether they were members of the church or were just you know, people that became friends of ours.
Yoni Mazor 7:24
Let me understand this so wherever you stayed in around Uruguay there were churches, community churches, more than the ones that you go there and you interact with the community to what do you do day today. What’s your purpose? What’s your mission?
David Bunch 7:35
Yeah, yep so there was a wherever we were at there was a mormon church so we would spend our days working with with members that were already members of the church we also taught people that were interested in the church so they may be you know what we call this investigators they wanted to learn more we also spent a lot of time doing service so we would teach English classes you know, we would we would help in the community whether we’re volunteering at you know, food kitchens or just people in the neighborhood that needed our help, we’d spent a lot of time serving so really it was you know, a chance for two years to really focus on on others kind of outside of myself you know, just the first 18 years you’re very much focused on yourself in high school and you know, sports and you know, dating and all of that it’s really kind of self focus this was a chance to really you know, spend time thinking about others and you know, so it’s a good It gave me a lot of perspective about live I think it helped me you know, prioritize you know, things you know better than then before I left.
Yoni Mazor 8:44
So you would definitely say that after two years it was very impactful to shape you up, your abilities, your mindset, your priorities, your values. Before I was on a mission for two years, it’s not like two minutes or two days or two weeks or two months. It’s three years that’s very purposeful, very purposeful, so I salute you for that.
David Bunch 9:03
Yeah, no, absolutely yeah so it’s something you know, I think about almost every day just you know, bits and pieces and unfortunately through social media you know, there are several people that I still interact with and become kind of long you know, lifelong friends.
Yoni Mazor 9:18
And while yours were there if I may so let’s put that let’s put some dates into the top progression so what what what was, you started there and what was your finished?
David Bunch 9:26
Yeah, so I started in January of 1995. And I came back in March of 1997.
Yoni Mazor 9:32
Got a mid 90s Very good. Okay, so let’s move on to the next station after two years in a row. Why served the mission really well. What was the next session for you?
David Bunch 9:42
Yeah, so you get back from being a missionary and it takes a few weeks to adjust because you’re on this full-time schedule of being a missionary and then you’re back into the real world. So back at home with the parents. It’s when I really started the College studies I went to Utah State University where I did my undergraduate degree. I initially was going to do medicine with my brother’s cardiologist. I wanted to kind of pursue that path with my grandpa’s doctor and some of my uncles.
Yoni Mazor 10:19
But quickly this probably goes like your grandfather’s a doctor from your mother’s side because you mentioned your father was the first to graduate high school right?
David Bunch 10:23
Yep. From my mother’s side. Yep. That’s a good point. Yeah. So from my mother’s side, so very, you know, you know, lots on the medical profession. But I got in, I did well in the classes for pre med, but I think kind of going back to the paper out just some of my, you know, starting small entrepreneurial businesses, just that business mindset. So I decided to make the switch. And I went into finance in accounting, I felt like, whatever business I got into, I needed to have a clear understanding of, you know, financials. You know, I felt like it didn’t matter what I did, that was the most important thing. So I decided in terms of business, that I wanted to focus my effort there. And so I got a degree in finance from Utah State, minor in economics. And so you just said it is based on what Salt Lake City, Utah states based in Logan, so it’s about the home? Yeah, for you. That was that home. That’s where I grew up. And so I did my undergrad there. I, I live with my parents for the first year. And then I got married a year into my studies. So I got married pretty early at 22.
Yoni Mazor 11:38
Nice. Did you meet your wife at the university or from the community?
David Bunch 11:41
Yeah, so she actually was from the community too. We went to the same high school. I knew who she was, but I didn’t know her until I was in college. And we met through some mutual friends. We dated for about a year. And then we got married in 1998. And you know, this year we’ll be married 23 years, and so very good.
Yoni Mazor 12:02
So in University will you marry in your graduate year?
David Bunch 12:06
I graduated in 99. So I went through pretty quickly, it took me about two and a half years when summers and kind of accelerated I think being married to, you know, is more focused on life. You know, my wife and I made sure you know, I got through quickly, and so I didn’t spend a ton of time in school. So I finished in 99 and had a lot of job opportunities. I ended up going to a company called nutraceuticals, where I started my career and nutraceutical is an aggregator at the time, you know, nutraceuticals was focused on the health food and specialty channel. And that was primarily these mom-and-pop health food stores. And back in 1999, there were 1000s of these stores. And there’s been some consolidation, you know, now Whole Foods and sprouts and some larger retailers, you know, dominate more that channel. But at the time, there were lots of independent healthy stores, and there still are some today. But if you look at the market share in that channel, there are lots and lots of brands, and none of those brands really represent a lot of market share. And so nutriceutical felt like there was an opportunity in that channel to do some consolidation. And so I joined the accounting and finance side and quickly, you know, got involved in their m&a. And, you know, towards the end well towards the last 10 plus years in my career that I was actually there for 21 years.
Yoni Mazor 13:37
I oversaw 91 years from 1999 until 2020 That’s right, yeah, we’re gonna have to unpack this a little bit long time, just give me one but I just want to bring some context into the mix so late 90s 1999, it wasn’t as advanced or the awareness of consumers wasn’t as strong as it is today, you know, we’re near 2021. Today, you know, supplements, well, wellness and beauty is really on high awareness, at least in the United States. And then in the Western world, people are really attentive to that. You know, preserve your body, enhance it, make sure you reach longevity, much more than the 90s it was, I want to say early beginnings, but it was just gonna get momentum in the late 90s. And that’s when you kind of went into the mix. And you’re saying because it was kind of scattered all over. You know, you were with a company that kind of saw the landscape and said, let’s start consolidating it and create more traction, more bodies, more movement, something that’s more cohesive, and it’s a powerhouse or a juggernaut and the industry so take us from 1999 to I guess your your progression in the company, what was your first position was an expert position inside the company to give us understanding of your your evolution within the industry?
David Bunch 14:44
Yeah, sure. Yeah, that’s a great explanation of the landscape at the time and you know, people were going to these health food stores to get their supplements because they weren’t commonly found elsewhere. Or at least a wide variety and you know, that’s Obviously changed but I started out in actual cost accounting and so not necessarily something I wanted to do long term but I liked the company, nutraceutical at the time was publicly traded.
Yoni Mazor 15:12
You said there was already a public company right?
David Bunch 15:15
We were a publically company traded on the NASDAQ yeah and just had gone public in 1998. So so…
Yoni Mazor 15:22
It is even though it’s wealth and beauty, I want to once again bring some more context, early, late 90s or up to 2000 2001 was the.com the NASDAQ was booming. That was like a bubble that was going on. Many startups’ first companies were going to the NASDAQ and getting amazing valuations until I kind of collapsed. I think there was an 80% drop or meltdown throughout the market. Were you guys weren’t technology per se were more of the wealth and wellness and beauty. But you mentioned you already have a public company freshly minted in the NASDAQ for the most part and then you come in and you cost accounting. What’s that?
David Bunch 15:55
Yeah, so really kind of managing product costs. You know, we were a manufacturer so all accounting to you all the factories, we did Yep, we did almost 90% of all of our manufacturing we did in house. And so as a really a very entry level role. But I like the company, I like the industry, you know, the types of products and I knew that, you know, people were starting to think more about what they put in their body and about their health. And so I liked directionally where that was going What was interesting you know, I started in and quickly on our CEO and you know, I credit a lot to him the founder CEO CEO bill gay and that he you know, people that worked hard, he gave opportunity to and probably ahead of, you know, your experience and so he got me involved early on in a lot of the m&a transactions that the first one I was involved on was you know, less than six months in in 2000.
Yoni Mazor 16:57
And at that time pulled out of cost accounting and said “ I want you to hit this deal, this merger, m&a, merger and acquisition deal and that was your first dive into the water.
David Bunch 17:04
Yeah, so yep, yep. So he got me involved there and I remember I was in Fort Lauderdale and we were going to a company and I couldn’t even rent a car because it wasn’t 25 but he gave me the opportunity to go there and surrounded me with some good people. And that’s where I really started to learn you know more about the industry about the m&a process and you know from there.
Yoni Mazor 17:27
But take us take us to the first deal if you can make the numbers if it’s a public company shouldn’t be smarter maybe there was pressure leases involved also
David Bunch 17:36
Yeah, and this was a small deal so it was a you know less than a million dollars we bought it from a company called wraxall and they actually had put a pause on the brand and so we went in and acquired it we liked the brand name and so it was a small deal and my initial roles were things like you know you’re counting the inventory with and you know your so all the things that they didn’t want to do which we’re good to do you know a lot of the you’re going out to the warehouse and participating in the physical of the inventory make sure it’s done right.
Yoni Mazor 18:07
You know the doing the due diligence or after the purchase.
David Bunch 18:11
Yeah so up before so a lot of the due diligence so counting inventory, you know going through bank statements and what we call proof of cash and making sure that you know the financials are accurate really tracing it to the cash the ins and the outs.
Yoni Mazor 18:29
You know that it’s a successful deal eventually then emerges nicely.
David Bunch 18:33
Pretty good and we were the brand they had. They had stopped the brand and so we had to restart the brand. And so in terms of what we paid for it, you know, for what we got out of it was a good deal. Yeah, and then the thing that we did at nutriceutical so one of the things that made it nice is we have the infrastructure in place. So when we bought this brand we didn’t actually take any people with it, but we already had people in place and all the functional areas we had manufacturing we had a retail sales team you know, at the time there was very little e-commerce you know, going on so it’s mostly you know, brick and mortar stores, but we had regulatory so we had all these things in place and so you can automatically as you bring it in, you know, you realize significant savings just by being part of the nutraceutical platform.
Yoni Mazor 19:21
Nice. Okay, take it to the next station, there is a progression. So he did the seminar, take us forward, let’s see a progression.
David Bunch 19:28
Yes, what happened is, you know, initially the first few deals I did, I was more, you know, learning process, you know, doing a lot of the due diligence, a lot of the, I was in, in deep in the detail. But over time, you know, they got more confidence in me where I actually got involved in the negotiation, to the structuring of the deals. I was involved a lot in sourcing, as I got to know more and more people in the industry. And then you know, a lot of times I would actually run the brands for a time Before they were integrated into the nutraceutical platform, and so I’d have them…
Yoni Mazor 20:05
Tell me about the nutraceutical during the.com bust that stock fell down or do you guys take any financial hits or what was the secret of…
David Bunch 20:12
The nutraceutical went public in 98 you know, early on we had missed initial earnings and we dropped significantly and so, you know, the market cap went way down you know, and it was just a gradual climb over time until in 2017 we were acquired by a private equity group and at that time it sold.
Yoni Mazor 20:37
Did you guys get delisted or you probably became public?
David Bunch 20:41
Yeah, we did fine, you know, the business did fine and we were actually able through acquisitions and organic growth we were able to grow top and bottom line when the company in 2017 was acquired by a private equity group. We sold for about 430 million at the time we were about 43 million of EBIT da you know so about a 10 multiple and you know it one of the things that we didn’t probably do a great job you know is we didn’t really get involved on the e-commerce side and take advantage of where the growth was going we stayed pretty true to that health food specialty channel which is a great channel to be in but it’s really a channel that a struggling mom and pop stores you know they’re going out of business a lot of the business the supplement volume is moving online into bigger retailers into other…
Yoni Mazor 21:40
Why did you start noticing that now looking back into you know, the time horizon what was you know, we just touched the early 2000s you know, 20 years into the mix maybe you want to take us out of the dynamics you see or that things are shifted in the industry
David Bunch 21:53
Yeah so even early in the early 2000s we started to see some consolidation even at the retail level so mom and pops getting acquired you know by bigger and becoming part of you know, bigger chains so there was consolidation there we started to see some brands move into you know, more traditional channels like grocery and mass type of accounts.
Yoni Mazor 22:17
And now you go to Walmart, you go to any food store, you’ll find a nice robust supplements category instead of like you know, maybe 20 plus years ago is nothing to a lot of presidents.
David Bunch 22:28
That’s exactly right yeah so no longer a lot of those consumers didn’t have to make the special trip to the health food store because they could find it in traditional retail.
Yoni Mazor 22:37
Did that affect you or you guys expanded into selling to you know, the big box stores?
David Bunch 22:42
It did affect us we expanded that probably not to the degree that we should have and you know so in hindsight and some of that you know it you know that it was differing opinions on what to do just internally on the management side on really to go after the e-commerce in some of these other channels The other thing too that we had to be cautious at the time is healthy stores were very protective and so if they saw you take your brands into to other retail channels they don’t