SENEGENCE: The Challenge of Growth

Finding solutions to hyper growth has given Senegence a strong foothold on the future.

Founded: 1999
Top Executives: Joni Rogers-Kante, Founder, CEO and Chairwoman | Ben Kante, Chief Strategy Officer | Alan Rogers Kante, Chief Experience Officer
Products: Health and Wellness
Headquarters: Foothill Ranch, California
Employees: 400
Operation & Manufacturing Centers: California and Oklahoma
COUNTRIES: Currently operating in 14, expanding into Hong Kong in April

Impressive growth is usually a wonderful situation—business owners rarely object to people clamoring for their products. However, when a demand for product exceeds the ability to fulfill orders, business seas can roil. It takes a steady, innovative hand at the helm to keep the business on an even keel and moving forward when hit with such a gale force. This is what SeneGence International, based in Foothill Ranch, California, experienced starting in 2015 when the phenomenon that is social media catapulted the company’s products into a veritable typhoon of demand.

“We just went back to ‘always do the right thing and do it in the old-fashioned way’…we were open like 24 hours a day.”
— Joni Rogers-Kante, Founder, CEO and Chairwoman

Founder, CEO and Chairwoman Joni Rogers-Kante says this overwhelming situation continued into 2016 and became a “full-blown disaster” in 2017. Rogers-Kante, her husband (and Chief Strategy Officer) Ben Kante, and son Alan Rogers Kante, chief experience officer, found themselves awash in orders and no way to quickly fulfill those orders. As the family members and principals of the company, Joni, Ben and Alan addressed the situation head on and made sure their Distributors were kept in the loop throughout every phase of solving the dilemma.

Pick up the printed issue in which this article is found.

Social Media’s Amplification Effect

According to Rogers-Kante, issues began when the company started responding consistently to social media bloggers with information about the products, which quickly increased sales and Distributors. When this surge hit the same time as the company’s exponential growth, SeneGence had no way to handle the huge volume of distributors coming on-board. “The company was not prepared with its system, we were not prepared with any kind of backup for raw materials and inventory,” says Rogers-Kante. “Of course, we find solutions—we never considered anything else.” They were helped when companies sold SeneGence their additional raw materials while other companies put their product production aside to give it priority.

Ben Kante says their vendors went above and beyond to help them. “All of our vendors did double shifts, worked Saturdays and Sundays,” he explains. The Kantes also took action themselves. Joni and Ben flew to Europe and designed a machine for high-speed manufacturing, and they acquired additional facilities and began putting the plans in place not only to sustain their current volume but also to accommodate future growth.

Taking Complete Control

Rogers-Kante says it was a blessing that everything happened at once since it forced everyone—from distributors and suppliers to vendors and employees—to realize SeneGence needed to control everything from beginning to end. They created “win-win” situations for all those involved and, notes Rogers-Kante, “It gave SeneGence complete control globally over the expansion, the volumes, the production, the creation, the quality of every single thing that we sell.”

This sudden product demand affected 98 percent of the company’s product line. Given that Rogers-Kante founded the company in 1999 and SeneGence now features over 300 products, that’s a lot of SKUs. Of course, excessive demand also means fast and furious online ordering, a situation that put a serious burden on the company’s computer system. “We’d get over 10,000 orders within 30 minutes and our computer couldn’t talk to the merchant processor fast enough,” explains Kante.

Rogers-Kante says this situation turned into a positive. “We just went back to ‘always do the right thing and do it in the old-fashioned way’…we were open like 24 hours a day,” she says. This required calling Distributors to make sure their orders were placed correctly and even double shipping items if there was any doubt an order had not been fulfilled.

Harnessing Technology

Today SeneGence’s computer system is in the Cloud. “We moved web pages, order pages, streamlined the pages for mobile,” says Kante. “We were able to move to the largest credit card merchant processor in the world …[it] can handle 10,000 to 20,000 orders in an hour.” The company still uses a few outside manufacturers, but most of the manufacturing is controlled by the company. Kante says they have kept some of the best vendors (for fulfilling small orders), so if they need extra help in the future those vendors can assist them.

SeneGence also has a contingency plan for handling another exponential growth spurt: The company has vendors in various countries who can provide components and raw materials if a production problem develops elsewhere. Plus, the company has third party contractors ready to produce products when needed. “We’re very cautious about ensuring we have backup so we don‘t go through the same thing again,” adds Rogers-Kante.

Transparency Kept Distributors Loyal

Keeping the Distributors apprised of the situation was critical for Rogers-Kante and her team. “Our volumes literally broke everything we had in the company,” she points out. Therefore, she and her family knew they had to be completely transparent if they were to retain the Distributors’ trust. They regularly made videos of new processes and upgrades, held conference calls and webinars, and shared photos detailing what was happening within the company. “We’re very grateful for the Distributors who believed in the company and the fact our heart was always in the best place to serve them…to find solutions to our growth and our challenges,” says Rogers-Kante.

In addition, the company took steps to improve its day-to-day operations. Alan Rogers Kante explains: “We brought in professional management from both Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 [companies], enhanced our employee benefits incredibly to showcase to them we really do care for them, and managed to take these professional ideals and attitudes and just put as much as we could into the company to make sure we could withstand future growth.”

Current & Future Operations, International Expansion

SeneGence now has three buildings in California and three in Oklahoma to handle all phases of its operation and a roster of 300 employees in the U.S. and another 100 in other countries. It will start construction in 2019 on a 300-acre facility in Sapulpa, Oklahoma (Joni’s hometown) that will serve as the company’s main campus. This site will include manufacturing, distribution, a convention center and other support facilities. Plus, the Kantes are restoring three historic buildings in downtown Sapulpa that will house a hotel, bakery, ice cream parlor, steak house, sports bar and retail space.

Always looking to the horizon, Rogers-Kante says their plan is to open three to five countries a year (the company operates in 14 countries). The company opened in Mexico this past fall and in New Zealand in January and will open in Hong Kong in April—the company’s 20th anniversary—all while keeping a wary eye on the company’s growth.

Celebrating 20 Years in Business and 16 Years Helping Others

SeneGence turns 20 in April, and to highlight this milestone it is holding a celebratory seminar event April 11-14 at the COX Business Center and BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Billed as the biggest company training and networking event of the year and led by SeneGence Founder and CEO Joni Rogers-Kante, participants will hear the latest updates from the executive team as they discuss the company’s future. Breakout sessions will offer training skills for effective business building, and event sales and specials will be offered.

In 2002 Rogers-Kante created The Make Sense Foundation to help women and children in need. Now celebrating a “Sweet 16” of helping others, the foundation donates to deserving nonprofit organizations throughout the country that are committed to making a real difference in the lives of women and children.