A.S.I. International: The Ingredient Specialist
Besides being the founder of A.S.I. International, Watchung, NJ, Roland Larbig is an adventurous risk-taker who loves the action of the business world. Fueled by this passion, he came to the U.S. from Germany in the 1980s as an employee of Merck to oversee a new company it purchased in New Jersey. Eventually he moved on to the world of nutrition and established A.S.I. International in 1993.
Over the years, A.S.I. has grown into a premium supplier of raw materials to the animal nutrition, beverage, cosmetic and nutritional supplement industries worldwide. Maintaining warehouse facilities in New Jersey and California, the company is in the unique position of being able to ship products on short notice.
During his journey in the business world, Mr. Larbig made the acquaintance of Joseph Campis. Today they are longtime friends and business colleagues at A.S.I.
Describing the evolution of their relationship, Mr. Campis said, "Roland and I worked together at the same trading company - he was involved in sales of raw materials and I was involved with the operations side of the business. Eventually we both moved on and then joined forces again in 2001. We've worked together on and off for about 30 years."
Given their varied experiences in the nutritional market, they have compiled a wealth of knowledge and expertise in several key areas. Amino acids, for one, is a market both Mr. Larbig and Mr. Campis know extensively, in addition to other ingredient segments. "A.S.I.'s strength lies in our collective knowledge of the market," Mr. Campis said.
Comparing the market of the early 1990s to today, Mr. Larbig said, "Back then the industry was in its infancy. For example, people were not as familiar with amino acids as they are today. And there weren't as many companies dealing with raw materials."
Today, Mr. Larbig pointed out, the market is very accessible and competitive, especially with China and India getting more involved in the nutritional business. Further, Mr. Campis added, regulations and GMPs have changed the landscape considerably - which is a good thing. "Regulations have become stiffer and that is definitely positive from a safety and quality standpoint," he said.
Still, Mr. Larbig firmly believes success ultimately hinges on the continuing development and maintenance of business relationships founded on trust and honesty. "Relationships are very important in this industry," he said. "That's why our quick responsiveness and knowledgeable customer service are such major components of our success. We conduct a lot of follow-up, which many companies neglect these days."
For A.S.I., the best way to navigate today's market is with "specialized" products that cater to specific health needs, often on an exclusive basis. "We have cut down our product lists tremendously and have decided to focus on building a few great products," Mr. Larbig commented.
Currently the company is concentrating on joint health. "Right now A.S.I. is focusing its efforts on expanding our joint health business," Mr. Larbig said. "Additionally, we are putting a concentrated effort toward promoting our sales of different standardized extracts of maca, a key energy and well-being ingredient."
For the future, Mr. Larbig believes the industry in terms of products will grow but that there will be consolidation of companies and suppliers. Given this almost certain reality, Mr. Larbig said A.S.I. will continue looking for reputable niche products and building relationships that will carry the company well into the future.