Wallingford's HerbaSway Makes And Bottles Concentrated Liquid Supplements

The Hartford Courant

Before Robert Wolfson took over the helm of a growing manufacturing firm four months ago, the company's founder gave him a list of nutritional supplements he should start taking, including a liver enhancer and pomegranate for prostate health.

Isn't that getting a bit personal?

Not at all, said Wolfson, 43, president of HerbaSway LLC. The 13-year-old company makes and bottles 25 nutritional supplements in liquid concentrate form, including six kinds of green teas; creme de chocolat, an antioxidant; and a liver enhancer made from shiitake mushrooms and goji berries.

"It tastes good," Wolfson said.

Most of HerbaSway's products are sold in 2-ounce bottles that sell for $20 to $25 at retailers such as Whole Foods Market and Vitamin Shoppe, as well as online and at independent health food stores across the country. Each bottle of concentrate makes about 60, 6-ounce servings, and can be added to water, milk or other liquids.

"A lot of women carry them in their purse," Wolfson said.

The concentrates are sweetened with the herbs stevia and lo han gua and don't contain sugar, caffeine, artificial sweeteners, fats or calories.

The company recently developed a powdered supplement, Thre, that can be added to water to make an energy drink. Whole Foods will begin selling Thre at 18 stores in the Northeast in June.

Because HerbaSway is privately owned, Wolfson declined to give any financial details about the company. But Wolfson said its sales have increased since the economic downturn.

"People are relying on our products more than ever," Wolfson said. "When people lose their jobs, they lose their benefits. They can't afford to go to the doctor anymore, so they're trying to take better care of themselves."

Franklin St. John, 70, a metallurgical engineer, and his wife, Lorraine, founded HerbaSway in 1996 after she introduced him to herbal supplements and traditional Chinese medicine. The couple launched the company in their garage. The company now employs 25 people and over the years has developed liquid supplements intended to ease digestive disorders or provide the anti-oxidant effect of 25 glasses of red wine — without the alcohol. And should customers imbibe too much alcohol, the company makes Kudja, a concentrate that it says can ease a hangover.

On a recent morning, Jonathan Selzer, a company researcher, appeared in the doorway of Wolfson's office. Selzer, wearing a bow tie and long white lab coat, described the task ahead of him: improve the "flavor and efficacy of a couple of products."

Selzer, a former marine biologist, chuckled when he described his first career: creating highly nutritious food for crab and lobster larvae. Now, he's making nutritional supplements for people.

HerbaSway makes its products on site. One morning recently, workers were about to begin bottling a 45-gallon batch of the company's flagship product, HerbaGreen Tea, enough for 2,500 2-ounce bottles of concentrate.

"We pull all the ingredients the night before," said quality control manager Lloyd Lirio, 24, as the bottling machine roared to life. "At 6 a.m. we weigh and mix them. At 8 a.m. we start cooking. At 10:30 it's ready."

Copyright © 2018, CT Now