Hamilton takes reins at OmniActive as company reconfigures for next growth phase

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

OmniActive sources much of its raw material from small holder fields like this in India.  Here turmeric grows in Tamil Nadu state. NutraIngredients-USA photo
OmniActive sources much of its raw material from small holder fields like this in India. Here turmeric grows in Tamil Nadu state. NutraIngredients-USA photo

Related tags Dietary supplement industry Carotenoids Turmeric Curcumin

Indian ingredient supplier OmniActive has brought industry veteran Jim Hamilton on as its new CEO as part of a corporate restructuring.

The company, whose formal full name is OmniActive Health Technologies, is based in Mumbai with R&D and manufacturing operations in several locations in south India and with a North American office in Morristown, NJ.  It announced Hamilton’s hiring today.

OmniActive, which was founded in 2004, is announcing a corporate restructuring along with Hamilton’s hiring, which becomes effective June 1. Founder Sanjaya Mariwala will step back from day to day operations to take the title of board chairman.  In addition, the company is expanding its board of directors. One of the new additions is Guru Ramanathan, PhD, who spent many years as the chief innovation officer of GNC.

Mariwala said Hamilton, “Is the right leader for OmniActive for our next phase of growth. He has a proven track record of successfully driving businesses forward and positioning them for success.”

For more than nine years Hamilton was the president of North American operations for Dutch multinational ingredient supplier Royal DSM.  Following that for more than four years Hamilton was the CEO of Neptune Wellness Solutions.

At Neptune Hamilton led the company’s transition from a supplier of bulk krill oil for dietary supplements into a producer of hemp extracts.  Hamilton was part of the team that negotiated the sale of Neptune’s krill oil business to Norwegian competitor Aker Biomarine, this bringing to a close the most contentious aspect of the so-called ‘krill wars’ which saw several companies fight each other over patent rights in courts around the globe.  Hamilton stepped down from Neptune in mid 2019.

Configuring a company for future growth

In his upcoming position at OmniActive, Hamilton said he will help configure the business for continued growth as it evolves from one with the founder’s hand on the tiller to one relying on a group of leaders recruited from the wider industry. 

“Great companies go through stages of evolution,”​ Hamilton said. “OmniActive has just gone through a really nice phase.”

“But businesses can grow beyond the capability of the founding team to deal with them.  I had been talking with Sanjay for a while about how the next phase needs to be approached differently.  It has probably been about a six month conversation,”​ he said.

“He has established a board of directors with highly relevant and deep experience within the dietary supplement industry.  The next adventure is opening up for OmniActive and it needs to a different way to lead,”​ Hamilton added.

OmniActive has as it base ingredient LuteMax 2020, a proprietary lutein ingredient derived from marigolds grown by thousands of small holding farmers in India. The company also features Capsimax, a capsicum extract from chili peppers in the weight management market, and curcumin ingredient CurcuWIN in the sports nutrition and active lifestyle market and enXtra, a caffeine free energy ingredient  that consists of a galangal (Alpinia galanga​) extract.

Staying part of an essential industry

Hamilton mug
Jim Hamilton

Hamilton said after stepping down from Neptune he found he wasn’t ready for retirement after all.  

“I think this industry provides great value. I learned that in part by being involved in Vitamin Angels.  You read the papers and you go to the lectures.  And then you go to places like India where you see people who are truly nutritionally challenged.  Then you really see the essential nature of nutritional products this industry provides,”​ Hamilton said.

Even though these are trying times for many companies, Hamilton said the dietary supplement industry is a good place to be.

“Historically the demand for the products this industry provides have been almost inversely correlated with hard times. We provide healthful and helpful products.  And in the context we find ourselves in today as we look forward there is going to be a growing recognition of that need.  I think our regular consumers will become more loyal, occasional consumers will become regular customers and new consumers will come into the category,”​ Hamilton said.

Highlight on corporate responsibility

Among the things Hamilton said he intends to continue to nurture at OmniActive is the company’s commitment to corporate responsibility.  OmniActive contracts with thousands of small holdings farmers to grow it raw material including marigolds and turmeric.  The relationship the company has with those farming communities can either be a blessing or a curse depending on what story the company can tell in that regard.  Hamilton said he intends to continue OmniActive’s good record in this regard, which he sees as a must-have for future success in the market.

“My 28-year-old daughter told me, ‘Why would I ever want to buy from any company that wasn’t doing good in the community?’ I think these attributes will be important for younger consumers in the years ahead,”​ Hamilton said.

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