Rand Skolnick, a leader in the dietary supplement industry, died on July 4, 2008 at the age of 50.1 Rand Skolnick was well known for his work within his family business, Solgar Vitamin & Herb Company, of which he was president and chief executive officer.
Skolnick was born in Long Island, New York, in 1958. He began training for his eventual CEO role in his family’s company when he was five, according to an anecdote in Whole Foods Magazine.2 “At the age of 5,” the article quoted him, “I can remember being at the dinner table, and Dad trying to convince my brothers and me how much fun we would have after dinner, counting out tablets and putting them into bottles. One of my most unforgettable moments came when I had just washed my hands, which were still a little wet, and had begun counting the tablets. My father scolded me, pointing out that water could be the most reactive substance when it comes to vitamins. All I could say in my own defense was ‘Dad, I didn’t know that; I’m only 5!’”
This set the trend in Skolnick’s life for an unwavering amount of accuracy in his business dealings. Though his parents Allen and Connie Skolnick began the business in 1947 and had tremendous success, the business was even more successful after Rand became the CEO.3 Skolnick began work at the company immediately after graduating high school in 1975, but not as the CEO initially. In fact, he spent his early years there doing odd jobs like painting floors, unloading trucks, and stocking shelves.2 According to Whole Foods Magazine, his father referred to this as his “executive training,” since “a true executive understands his company from every aspect.”2 Skolnick joined Solgar full-time in 1979 and became the CEO five years later after successfully expanding the business nationally; this made him one of the youngest CEOs in the natural products industry at that time.3
Skolnick had great passion for the dietary supplement industry, and passion for perfection and quality in the finished products manufactured for the consumer, according to Carl Germano, RD, CNS, CDN (Certified Nutritionist/Dietitian). Germano is executive vice president of research & product development for Millennium Biotechnologies, and he worked with Skolnick for 8 years as Solgar’s vice president of research (oral communication, August 26, 2008). Germano added that from the onset, Skolnick adopted and followed the belief that research in product development should drive sales. “He worked to follow in his father’s footsteps, who was also tremendously successful, to uphold the standards set for Solgar that eventually became the gold standard by which many others followed,” said Germano. “He breathed the business. It was his life.”
According to Michael Shuck, Solgar Vitamin & Herb Company’s vice president of sales, Skolnick was the main force behind the internationalization of the Solgar® Brand (e-mail, August 22, 2008). Because of his work in this area, Solgar is currently distributed in over 40 countries. Shuck met Skolnick in 1983 and joined Solgar in 1988. “He was the most passionate person I ever met both in business and in life,” said Shuck. “He was also a natural born leader with tremendous charisma.”
Skolnick was this year’s recipient of the President’s Award from the Natural Products Association (NPA), one of the association’s highest honors for those who have contributed greatly to the natural products industry.4 The award was presented posthumously at the NPA Natural MarketPlace 2008, on July 17–19 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Shuck accepted this award in his stead.
“The moving tribute he received when his colleagues and staff accepted the award on his behalf spoke volumes about the respect and affection those who had the opportunity to work closely with him felt,” said David R. Seckman, executive director and CEO of NPA (email, September 10, 2008). “Clearly, he will be missed.”
Rand Skolnick is survived by his parents Allen and Connie, his brothers Mitchell and Barry, and his partner Terrence Meck.1 Skolnick was also a philanthropist. His own personal foundation, Palette Fund, is currently accepting donations in his memory at PO Box 865, Lynbrook, NY 11563.
—Kelly E. Saxton